the making of, behind the story, ethical manufacturing, shop local, comfort bra, self love

The Making of BaseLayer

Designed to be your best friend while lounging at home, the motivator in a morning yoga class, your go-to casual outfit bestie, your confidence boost underneath that power suit and also your alter ego during a night out in the city. Here is how moving to Toronto brewed up the idea of a comfortable versatile bra made to uplift your confidence came to life - 450 days later. 

The Idea

BaseLayer was a project born from the pandemic and the need for everyday comfort that promotes self confidence.  In 2020, I found myself ditching the conventional bra, in search for a more comfortable option.  Out of the lack of options, I resulted to wearing sports bras 24/7 which only flattened my already limited chest action rather than flatter it. Bralettes were cute but didn’t provide me with the oomph and shape that I wanted.  Wireless bras were suffocating and too structured, which made me wanting something lighter and easier to move in - to wear under or as is!  

During the pandemic, my husband and I moved to Toronto.  We lived in a small one bedroom condo just over 500sqft.  I had to be wise with my wardrobe choices.  I looked in my closet where I had conventional bras, sports bras, bra tops and lounge wear bra tops.  They were all taking up too much valuable closet real estate.  So I set out with the goal to create a comfortable bra that is able to give the IBTC the much needed lift with the option of removable shaping pads, while also having the versatility to wear it under or over as part of the outfit. It would be the one stop bra top that does it all without compromising comfort, shape and quality.  

Finding the Perfect Team

So I set out to learn as much as I could about the apparel industry - from how garments are made and designed to the manufacturing process through online research, reading and interviewing experts in the industry.  At the time I had limited connections in the industry and so I resorted to Fiverr to search for a freelance technical designer to assist with the design and pattern making, which only yielded poor results and left me $1000 poorer than before.  

A month later I was fortunate enough to have connected with Ryan, a well established fashion designer known for his work with Vancouver’s best home grown brands like the Aritzia, Oak + Fort and Lululemon through a friend who had also started her brand several years ago (you may have heard of Leze the Label - which I absolutely adore!).  Ryan brought the much needed expertise to help bring the vision for a comfortable, versatile and functional bra top to life.  Ryan and I worked together with a goal to create something that is timeless, effortless yet offers comfort and most importantly, quality.  It took multiple rounds of samples to get each design perfect.  Ryan’s keen eye to detail, craftsmanship and quality suited the brand well.  The focus has always been exceptional quality and while this wasn’t very wallet friendly, it was necessary to reflect the brand values appropriately.  

While teaming up with Ryan for product development, Pivot & Pilot took the reigns with branding.  Their team assisted with the brand identity and voice which now has become BaseLayer.   

Manufacturing Choices  

While continuing to educated myself on the apparel industry, I was heartbroken to see the conditions and the low pay workers have to endure in Asia producing our fast fashion brands.  Many in search for work will tolerate poor working conditions simply because they are need for work to support their families.  This really made me want to push for fair and ethical employment to the people who need it.  Rather than taking away employment opportunities for workers which most brands do, I decided to keep employment in Asia to the people who need it most BUT support the factories doing it right (read more on our “Breaking the Stigma” blog post).  

Starting a Business in the Middle of a Pandemic

Starting a business during the height of the pandemic didn’t come without its challenges.  There were constant delays with our various sample modifications, manufacturing batches and, of course shipping.  Our costs more than doubled when numerous factories had to shut down during China’s energy crisis, leaving us with very limited vendor choices that met our quality standards.  We could have chose to manufacture in a much cheaper Country such as Bangladesh or India with fewer labour regulations, but we chose ethical manufacturing practices while maintaining quality over cost.  Near 450 days later, this journey has just started.  

BaseLayer was designed to be your best friend while lounging at home, the motivator in a morning yoga class, your go-to casual outfit bestie, your confidence boost underneath that power suit and also your alter ego during a night out in the city.  Most of all, BaseLayer is meant to allow each and every one of us to fully embrace our base, to be comfortable and proud of the bodies that has done so much for us.