Home / A Little Help From Her Friends: Scarletta’s Inspiring Backstory
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Can a sexy name foretell success for a new fashion brand?

Well, probably not — unless that name is ‘Scarletta’, which happens to be a new British lingerie brand that will serve fuller-busted women when it launches later this spring. ‘Scarletta’ might just be the best possible name for a fashion startup.

This radical notion comes from a recent poll that tried to rate the “sexiness” of popular names. The website BabyNameWizard surveyed tens of thousands of visitors over a five-year period and found ‘Scarlett’ was considered the sexiest name (among hundreds rated) for a girl.

Some other fascinating details emerged from the survey. Names ending in an “a” (for girls) consistently ranked highly because it’s a classic gender signifier; and girls’ names with double letters “amp up a name’s sexiness”. Names with multiple “soft” vowels and those rooted in romance languages also had wide appeal.

This bodes very well for Scarletta Lingerie, which hit the bullseye in the sexy-name department. But that’s not the only thing this UK startup has going for it. Founder Ije Nwandu has an inspiring backstory, driven by relentless determination and helped by some well-known friends and supporters in Britain’s lingerie industry.

Scarletta‘s debut collection includes several bra and brief combos in bright jewel tones that Ije says reflect her African roots growing up in Nigeria. The line was created with the help of Bok Goodall, the designer behind the very successful brand Claudette, known for its colorful bra styles in hard-to-find cup-and-band size combos.

Ije (below) moved to London at age 16 to pursue her education and earned degrees in politics and entrepreneurship. After graduating, she returned to Nigeria and launched her first lingerie company with big ambitions but little industry training.

Ije

“I was really passionate about it and saw myself as the next Victoria’s Secret,” she told Lingerie Talk. “But unfortunately I lacked any real experience and so struggled with the everyday running of the company.”

(That company was called La Pooza which, not surprisingly, doesn’t show up anywhere on the sexy-names list.)

The solution? Pack it in and start again, this time with proper training and industry supports.

She returned to England and contacted fuller-bust trailblazer Curvy Kate, offering to intern for free in exchange for “learning about every aspect of running a lingerie company.” Ije spent eight months with Curvy Kate‘s sister brand Brastop, an experience she calls “life-changing.”

She also enrolled in business school and set out to fine-tune a business plan to create a new brand offering sophisticated lingerie for fuller-busted women — a market demo once badly underserved but now increasingly targeted by a new generation of lingerie entrepreneurs.

Ije then got her next big assist, this time being mentored by Emily Bendell, the founder of Bluebella lingerie.

“She really helped me build my confidence,” said Ije, who interned for six months for the renowned upstart brand that famously snagged the 50 Shades lingerie licensing deal. “Her story inspired me to focus on my strengths, not my shortcomings. I decided to launch Scarletta right after.”

Scarletta‘s launch also gets a substantial boost from well-known fashion photographer James Lightbown, who shot the lookbook, and its bright-eyed model Lazara.

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Scarletta offers bra sizes from D-H cup and in band sizes from 30-42 and says it is appealing to “fuller bust women who know what it feels like to wear the wrong bra.”

There are hints of vintage glamour in the satin/mesh/lace collection, and hints of Ije’s heritage in the colour choices inspired by African sunsets and a sleek crocodile-skin print.

Her decision to pursue a career in lingerie had its roots in personal experience that many women will find familiar. Ije says she got her first corset-like longline bra at age 12, the same style worn by other women in her family.

“We all love … the shape it gives under clothing, but to be perfectly honest it never really fit me well,” she said, “and I found out over time that it has never really fit most of the women in my family and my female friends.”

Even worse, Ije says it was difficult to find bras that made her feel confident and “strugged to accept her curves because the lingerie available made her feel too sexy or too frumpy.”

Scarletta, she hopes, will offer better options for “the woman who refuses to be confined by the stereotypical styles available on the high street for her size range.”

“There is a bit of Scarletta in every woman,” she adds.

Below are more shots from Scarletta Lingerie‘s autumn-winter 2015 campaign, which will be available to buy in July. Watch their website for information on retail stockists.

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