Annika Chaloff is the founder of Married & Bright,a line of handmade lingerie designed to make women feel wonderful about their bodies and themselves. Designed and produced in Nashville, TN, each piece seeks to inspire, uplift, and encourage the wearer to love themselves a little deeper and have a bit more fun. We caught up with Annika about her business.
Burgundy Fox: Tell us how Married & Bright got started?
Annika Chaloff: Before I had my lingerie business, I had a line of maternity wear and children’s clothing (The opposite end of the fashion spectrum!), called Expect. I operated it for a little over three years before I reached a breaking point and realized that essentially it wasn’t fun for me anymore.
I made the hard decision to shut it down at the end on 2014. Closing Expect felt like such a total and utter personal failure to me that I vowed never to run a business again. But… just a few weeks later, I felt a creative itch. I decided out of the blue to use some of the leftover materials from Expect — the elastic I was using to make baby headbands — to make a bralette. I took a photo of that sparkly bralette lying on my bed and the requests for duplicates came rolling in. On a whim, I set up an Etsy shop to take orders, and suddenly I was back in business! It was a really unexpected turn for me, but I've found that running a lingerie business is so deeply gratifying and meaningful to me. I'm glad I took the plunge!
BF: How did you come up with the name and what does it signify?
AC: Before I got married, I had a blog that I ran under my maiden name. While my husband and I were driving down the coast of California on our "minimoon," I was contemplating changing the name of my blog now that my own name had changed.
“Merry & Bright” is a family inside joke, and given that my wedding quickly followed the holidays, the phrase was floating around in my head. I decided to change my blog name to Married & Bright to fit my new status as a Mrs. When I opened shop about a year later, I decided to just use my blog name and change it later when I thought of something better. I bet you can guess how that ended. It seems like most things with Married & Bright happened by accident at first, and later became imbued with meaning. I think those two words describe myself and my customer. Whether they're married to a partner, their career or just committed to having fun, my girls are sparkly, intelligent rays of sunshine!
BF: What's your philosophy on lingerie and boudoir?
AC: I believe that lingerie should be designed to make the wearer feel good, first and foremost. I've always subscribed to the look good, feel good philosophy. I always apply that to my work. If wearing Married & Bright impresses your partner or friends, I consider that a fringe benefit. At the core of my design approach is putting an extra bounce in someone's step, making someone feel more confident, sexier and better about themselves.
BF: What inspires your new design concepts?
AC: Inspiration for me comes from one of three places: materials, my customers and myself. I love walking through fabric shops, or browsing the work of surface designers, illustrators, and graphic designers to find my next favorite print, or fun colored lace. When I see a new fabric or pattern I haven't worked with yet, ideas usually start flowing in. I also so hearing what my customers and clients have to say. Adding high waist undies was a special request from a custom order and that one style of panty completely changed my business. And, selfishly, I like making things that I myself want to wear. When I realize that I can't find what I'm looking for out in the world... I like to make it myself.
BF: Tell us what we exciting things we can look forward to from Married & Bright?
AC: I'm really looking forward to my next couple product releases. The summer collection is going to be filled with quirky prints, bright colors, and new, fun textures. After that, is my favorite season, Fall. I'm looking forward to more velvet, and rich colors.
BF: Amidst your packed schedule, how do you take care of yourself?
AC: My resident studio dog, Bucket, keeps me from losing my mind. Taking a pause to scratch his belly, or being forced to walk him at least twice a day, affords me a little time without technology to slow my brain down and breathe. Plus, he is always good for a laugh!
BF: Name one person who inspires you and why?
AC: I can't name just one, I have to name two: my sisters. These two women are a force of nature. One of them is a multi-lingual mother of two who still somehow finds time to make the most exquisite quilts, Pinterest worthy preschool birthday cupcakes and have the most perfectly decorated home. Plus she works for a non-profit -- she is spreading so much goodness in the world! My other sister is a college professor. She teaches physics and calculus. She is all of five feet tall and still commands a room full of young adults with such gusto and grace, it astounds me. I strive to live up to their legacy. They blazed an amazing trail that I hope to follow.
Edited by: Nicole Fallert
Leslie Wong is the Founder of Burgundy Fox, a subscription lingerie brand on a mission to celebrate all bodies and empower women to love themselves. Burgundy Fox strives to create a more inclusive fashion experience and a kinder message about beauty for women now and in the future.