Body positivity and inclusivity are fast becoming part of the norm and for it to make a significant imprint in the fashion industry is a BIG step for women of all shapes and sizes!
One such wonderful lingerie company is Dream & Drive – a South Australian-based feminine label that brings all the elements of sass, class, sensuality, and a hint of playfulness. With an array of choices from PVC to delicate lace, Dream & Drive offers its customers with the opportunity to enjoy lingerie that can be customized to their liking and presents with effortless underwear that hugs and supports your best bits seamlessly.
I was fortunate enough to score an interview with the lovely Carly Morrison, who is the brains behind this oh-so-fabulous business – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: How did Dream & Drive become a reality?
Carly: The truth is – I needed to do more with my life! Once I came back after studying overseas and specializing in underwear design, I lost my job. While this was unexpected, I knew I needed to start working on something that I loved, in order to stop me from going into another deep mode of depression. It was also something that felt right to do. So, while I looked for another job to get some savings for a deposit towards my house, I also budgeted an amount that would go towards assisting the rundown of my business from home. I built my business by slowly buying what I needed, bit by bit – from supplies to machines. No one in my family has sewn – I’m the first to take this step, where I undertook studies and learned the skills through my own practice and research. It all comes down to persistence and I’m glad to have kept on going with it to this day!
Tema: Can you please tell me a little bit about yourself, Carly?
Carly: I’m 27, I live in and grew up here in South Australia. I design and manufacture all the lingerie you see in collections, organise photo shoots, work with models, and design the look books. Every piece of lingerie is handmade by myself with love and care and is finished with a lovely handwritten note, which is wrapped in tissue paper.
Tema: What made you start up your own business?
Carly: I wanted to continue what I had learnt in fashion school; both here and overseas. I simply didn’t want to stop! Studying underwear design in Milan reinforced that pursuing my idea of having my own business could be a reality. Within a month or so of arriving in Australia, I started designing and I’ve been going ever since.
Tema: Is there a story behind the name of your business – Dream & Drive?
Carly: In my graduation collection at TAFE (2012) was named the same, I based my designs on shapes and patterns of 1950s concept cars. It was named after a book called Dream & Drive – when thinking about naming my label, it seemed fitting. Dream & Drive Lingerie evokes something dreamy yet strong and driven.
Tema: Is Dream & Drive an SA-based business? Where do you source your fabric and other materials from?
Carly: I am based here in SA, so it’s all made here – from design to finished product. As for fabric and other materials, I source mostly from within Australia and a lot of my limited edition pieces have been end of rolls/off-cut remnants I’ve bought, which otherwise would have been discarded. I do my best to reduce waste, so it’s great to reuse my own off-cuts or others into lingerie; like quarter cup bras. Everything can have life again.
Tema: Why did you decide to base your business on lingerie?
Carly: I’ve always had an interest in lingerie since I was a teenager. It wasn’t until I began studying fashion that I did my own research. I started pattern making and sewing lingerie in my own time and I haven’t stopped since, so, it is a sector of fashion I’ve always been drawn to, more so than anything else.
Tema: What do you think makes your brand of lingerie stand out from what’s already out there? What do you think is your selling point?
Carly: I’m one of the very few lingerie designers and manufacturers here in Adelaide. Everything you see in collections are all handmade with love and care. The ethos has never been to be mass! There is a sense of uniqueness in design and personal service. Many of the designs are a modern take on different eras of fashion and their shapes and silhouettes in the form of lingerie.
Tema: How would you describe your style of lingerie to someone who has never shopped from Dream &Drive before?
Carly: Dream & Drive Lingerie is a feminine label, sheer sensuality and hints from vintage aligned with dark and light playful undertones. Think delicate yet strong silhouettes. The purpose is simple, locally based and a positive attitude to the physical form – lingerie as self love.
Tema: What inspires you to create the designs / patterns / styles of lingerie? What does the creative process look like?
Carly: I think a lot about different shapes, so the Golden Flowers collection was based on bows and flowers and I thought a lot about the shapes and broke them down into designs. So for example in the Evolve Bralette, I added pleats each side of the bust, wrapping the centre in delicate lace to give the impression of a bow and flower. I usually will be thinking designs over in my head for a while and then draw sketches. Design is 10% of what I do, a design might look great on paper, but once I begin pattern making and sewing, a sample it can start to change and adjust. Once again, after fitting, they take a new form.
Tema: Is there a new collection in the works and if so, when will it be released?
Carly: I’ve just released a new collection Dark Paradise. I’m working on designing and making one main collection per year, with limited edition pieces in between.
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience when purchasing from Dream & Drive?
Carly: Often a more personalised service – if it’s not through custom orders, which require more conversation – I always write a nice personalised note to each order. People feel comfortable approaching labels like myself, especially lingerie is very niche in a way that people who are into lingerie are interested in every detail and are very specific about their needs like sizing and fabric. There is definitely a sense of community on Instagram surrounding lingerie, which is quite unique, so there is a personalised touch to it. Often, people contact me after they receive their purchase and are absolutely in love with it!
Tema: What are some of your most popular options of lingerie?
Carly: Anything high waisted!
Tema: What do you think is the ideal form of lingerie that women can enjoy best?
Carly: The ideal lingerie is what feels comfortable for you. We are all different, different shapes like different textures, colours and styles – it is totally up to the individual and there is no right or wrong.
Tema: Do you do custom orders as well as stock-ready items? If so, what does the process typically look like?
Carly: I do custom orders. I work from measurements and make changes to the closest pattern size. I try to do majority of my cutting on one day of the week and space out my sewing and packing during the week. It doesn’t always work that way, but generally yes! I make to order, once I make an order I’ll make more of the same style to replace to stock on a shelf. I keep all my orders on racking, with a post-it labeling, that details what style and size it is. Once complete, they move to the top shelf to be sent.
Tema: Is this your full time work or do you do something in addition to running Dream & Drive?
Carly: I work full time in another job, so I spend on average 15+ hours on my business per week.
Tema: Are there any hopes of setting up a physical shopfront or do you prefer to run your business solely online?
Carly: I love the idea of a physical shopfront! At the moment, I do everything from a spare room and solely being online is the best platform for me.
Tema: Do you primarily tend to produce lingerie in neutral tones or do you offer colorful options as well?
Carly: At the moment, it’s all neutral and black.
Tema: What do you think is one of the most rewarding features of being a small business?
Carly: I feel being a small business, the connection to customers is closer and people often contact me freely with questions and feedback. It often feels like we’re just having a friendly chat. I love that there is something far more personal about being an independent brand.
Tema: What do you think is one of the most significant challenges of running a small business?
Carly: There are times I will have to admit it can take a real toll mental health. I do most things on my own from cutting, making lingerie and marketing to updating my website. All of those happen regularly, so becoming ill (for example) can be a real setback.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like your customers / our readers to know about Dream & Drive?
Carly: In October, orders over $100 will include a free pair of knickers – these are any style of knickers in your size (think of it as a lucky dip but for lingerie!).