Abigal Slone is one of those rare people who makes you think, What the heck am I waiting for?
At 5-foot-10, she is every bit a model—tall, blonde, stunning.
And at 23 years old, she’s every bit the business owner: smart, well-spoken, un-overestimate-able.
Yep, while most of us were still realizing we’d never have summer vacation again, Abigail was forming her first LLC.
Abigail founded the ethically conscious online lingerie boutique, Willow Layne, in August 2017, just a few short months after graduating from The Ohio State University.
With a herniated disk that shattered her dreams of dancing professionally, she knew she couldn’t take a regular 9-to-5 position that required long bouts of sitting. She also knew that whatever she dedicated her life to had to be for the betterment of women.
All these thoughts were swirling when she saw the “Women’s Appreciation Day” episode of The Office. In the episode, Michael takes all the ladies shopping at a popular lingerie store as his treat. Most of them start browsing, but Pam hesitates and picks up a bathrobe and says, “I’m kind of in between boyfriends, so I don’t need anything sexy. Maybe I can cut up this robe into bath towels or something.”
Enter Willow Layne.
Skim a piece of Willow Layne’s mission and you’ll know why I had to meet Abigail not now but right now: “Here at Willow Layne Lingerie, we believe that every body is beautiful and every woman deserves to feel beautiful, confident, and sexy in her own skin. … We are greatly disheartened at the objectification and over-sexualization of women’s bodies that major lingerie brands employ as a major marketing strategy to sell their products. At Willow Layne, we believe that no matter what size you are, you deserve to have beautiful, sexy lingerie available to you that is marketed in an ethical, non-objectifying way. YOU are beautiful and you shouldn’t have to have a partner to ‘allow’ yourself to buy something sexy. You should be able to buy it for yourself because you deserve to feel like the sexy, confident, and empowered woman you are. Because you are more than worth it.”
I sat down with Abigail to hear more about the business that is becoming her passion.
Fox & Bloom: What were you doing before you founded Willow Layne and how did that lead to starting your own business?
Abigail Slone: Before Willow Layne, I was in school at Ohio State. I used to be a professional dancer and that really played into Willow Layne because I was always interested in the design of leotards, especially the backs. And I always was fascinated by that purely from a design aspect.
As far as the more ethical side of things, the more classes I took in college on women’s issues as a women’s gender and sexuality minor, those issues really started to come to the forefront of my mind. I also dealt with sexual abuse and rape in college. I think it’s hard to be fully sympathetic to an issue until you’ve dealt with it yourself. And then once it does happen, you’re extra passionate and you want to help other women.
And so, that’s when I realized I really wanted to make women’s rights a big part of whatever job I took because I wouldn’t really be happy unless it helped protect women and promote women’s issues.
F&B: What are some things you’ve learned on the path to starting your own business?
AS: It’s really just learning as you go. The biggest thing I’ve learned is it’s a lot of hard work, time and Google. Honestly, everything can be achieved through Google search. I never thought it would be so simple, but it is. That’s how I figured out how to file a DBA form, federal EIN and register my LLC.
F&B: So, would you say that if you have a dream, whether it be starting your own business or something else, there’s really no excuse?
AS: There’s no excuse. I think the hardest part is starting and taking that first step. I know for so many people, you put it on your to-do list or in your planner—everyone has that one thing that they keep transferring from list to list to list. I know for me, it had been to start a business. I think that for so many people, you need to just take the first step and then from there, sure, it will be hard but at least you did it.
F&B: You’re coming out with your own line of bralettes this spring. Was it challenging to find someone who could produce them ethically?
AS: Absolutely. First of all, there just aren’t that many factories in the U.S. that even produce lingerie. It’s much harder to produce a bra-like structure, so that is challenging because my design is going to be lightly padded and have some structue—it’s not just going to be a flimsy fabric bralette without support.
I finally found a factory in San Francisco that would do it and I had to make sure that they followed all the laws and codes, that they had good references and treated their workers fairly. Once all those boxes were checked, I was able to move on and make sure the fabrics they were sourcing would be obtained from ethical sources. They were 100% amazing about getting the fabrics from a place here in the states that sources modal, which is one of the most sustainable fabrics on the market right now.
F&B: What has it been like creating your own designs?
I have no fashion background whatsoever, but ballet really played into it because I always had very strong opinions on the backs of my leotards. I was very into the lines and how the back played into it. I always liked the backs a little bit lower and I would change the straps and sometimes sew them on myself. So I played around with some of the samples the factory sent me and came up with a design I really liked that’s based on the leotards I used to own.
F&B: How will your bralette be different from other brands’?
AS: It will be the only bralette on the market that will be available in your actual cup size instead of small, medium, large. It will go from 30AA all the way to 40GG. The first layer will be like a very lightly padded bra without wire, so it’ll be similar to a very comfortable, everyday T-shirt bra that’s super light, but it will be supportive.
And then the overlay will be a really pretty, lacy bralette with a thicker lace strap that will be very comfy. So for chestier ladies, it will still be super supportive and hold you up so that you can have the comfortable bralette feeling while still feeling very supported. And women who want a little more coverage and not just a see-through bralette, you’ll have the lightly padded bra. It’s really the best of both worlds. Plus, there will be rose gold hardware on the adjustable straps and hook closure.
F&B: Can you speak to women’s confidence and how you hope Willow Layne will build into it?
AS: A major thing with lingerie, in general, is that people think it’s something to be worn privately and that women’s sexuality is something to be hidden. What I’m trying to do is say, no, feminity and women’s sexuality are beautiful and are something that should be celebrated. It’s not just something for men or our partners to consume. It’s not just for them, it’s for us, and we need to take that back and own it. Women deserve to feel beautiful and confident because when you feel confident is when you feel the sexiest.