This month, in celebration of women, we've created a series honouring inspiring women who we have serious crushes on. From artists to entrepreneurs, all are passionate about what they do - we hope that sharing their stories will inspire you to turn your dreams into a reality.
For our third #WomanCrushWednesday we’re featuring Nadine Woods of Mayana Genevière, a luxury lingerie line that's designed and made in Toronto, Canada. After having her daughter, Nadine was inspired by the lack of lingerie options designed for new moms. With no fashion experience, Nadine created a beautiful line of lingerie so women can recapture a feeling of self-confidence and femininity.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi everyone, I’m Nadine Woods I’m the founder of Mayana Genevière. We’re an ethically made luxury lingerie line that's based out of Toronto. We produce everything locally here in the junction and a portion of every garment goes towards our not-for-profit partner maternal goddess. At Maternal Goddess, we work with industry experts to advocate for the emotional, physical and mental well being of women postpartum.
What inspired you to get your start?
Having a baby. I had my daughter and the undergarments that were out there for women after they just had children was horrendous, ugly, uncomfortable, not functional. That’s what really motivated me. I started researching why is this not out there for women, and there's a bigger conversation to be had. A lot of women aren’t prepared for what happens after they have children. The reality is, once we’re postpartum, we’re postpartum for life. It is a temporary moment right after we have children, but your body is changed forever. That's how I got started, based on the need, and also the feeling that there was just nothing out there.
Who was the first person you hired?
When I started my business I really focused on working with a lot of different people that I contracted, I didn’t hire full time. The first person I hired was my technical designer, I wanted to make sure what I was doing was possible. We ended up getting patents for what we do, It’s unique and one of a kind in the world. I definitely needed somebody with technical experience to do that. I knew how I wanted it to function and look, so we worked together to make that happen. And here we are today!
Knowing what you know now, who do you wish you hired sooner?
I wish I hired somebody in Marketing. I spent a lot of time developing my product and perfecting it. I think a lot of people who own a business are very focused on their product or their service and developing it to make sure it's perfect. But when you’re ready to market it, there's a gap there. So I think I would have hired somebody to focus on that while I was in the development stage.
What were some early signs at the beginning that made you feel confident that you were doing the right thing?
I knew when all my friends, girlfriends, random strangers, were telling me “that's such an easy way to breastfeed”. I then did a lot of research. I sent out a survey that was almost 10-15 minutes long and there was no incentive. But I got over 200 full responses from women after they had children and were very interested in what it is we’re doing. I then did research in the industry, flying to different countries, trade shows, and there was nothing like this on the floor. I thought to myself, you know what? I'm either really onto something, or this is really not needed. When we got everything going and heard the response from women, we realized we are 100% on to something and we have to keep going.
Tell us about your studio. What does your typical day look like?
My studio like I mentioned is here in the junction. I love it! It's a small space, It's almost 2,000 sq ft. We have a lot of different machines, It takes about 8 different machines to make a bra. On one side we work on marketing, communicating and social media. Then on the other side, the factory, we work on developing. A typical day for us is either development or checking orders to make sure everything is organized in terms of sewing. We don’t pre-make a lot of orders, except for sizes we know we get a lot of requests for. It's almost like its made to order when people place an order or when our stores call in.
Tell us about your work process.
I first look to my experience of what happened to me after I had my daughter. I wrote down quite a few things that I found was missing from the undergarment industry. I also do a lot of research. I run a not for profit (Maternal Goddess), with that we do a lot of education and awareness. I make it a point to meet with industry experts to find where the gaps are in education and awareness. As a woman every pregnancy is different and every postpartum experience is different. We take a look at the common factors in research, what are the things we know people need and develop from there. It's important to get feedback from different people and look at how we are designing. We also roll out new designs slowly. We are really focused on producing quality designs, not on a high turnover.
What advice would you give to another woman looking to do what you do?
Collaborate! You find so much strength, inspiration and support when you’re grouped with other women who understand what it is to be a woman running a business. It's very different for us, a lot of us have families. We are in a position right now in society where we juggle a lot of different things. I think when you have a group of people who understand what you’re going through it makes it easy and is less isolating.
Best advice you've received:
It's been a collection of different experiences. What I’ve gathered is collaboration over competition. I think it's so important for people to celebrate our differences. Don’t look to others to see how far you’ve come or where you should be. Just look at where you are in your journey and how you can work with other people to get to another stage and not tear down the other person in the process. It's really tough not to compare yourself to others, especially with social media. But that's the best piece of advice I’ve heard that I pass along to other women.
Nadine Woods, wearing The Dressy Sweatpants
Did you have any important female figures in your life, or was there anyone in particular who inspires you?
I really love Louise Hay. She wrote a book called ‘You Can Heal Your Own Life’. Anyone who knows me knows that I will recommend that book to anybody. It's just this whole concept of mindset that changes and thinking of everything from a place of love and acceptance. There are many women who are very vulnerable and put themselves out there. Even within my field I have been blessed and grateful to be around some very incredible women who are willing to work together. Whether it’s in a mastermind group, whether it's in a mom entrepreneur group, or just a boss babe group. It's just women coming together, and those women inspire me. We all come from very different backgrounds or different experiences and we all bring that together. You get inspiration from other women who are doing really well, it inspires you to keep going.
How would you define female empowerment?
Collaboration over competition. I can’t stress that enough. We already have enough going on as women, we have to work together to lift each other up so that we can all get to that place that we are trying to get to collectively. When we see that other women don’t have enough access or don’t have the same opportunity that we do I truly believe it's our responsibility to make those doors open for those women.
Describe what you wear to feel most confident and comfortable when you are working.
A pair of underwear I designed 5 years ago that I absolutely love, and we are launching soon! It’s my go-to underwear. It has a little bit of support, lined with organic cotton, and you can’t see them. They’re full bottoms, my take on the granny panty. After I had my daughter I had to wear that type of underwear out of necessity, not by choice, so I made a change to that design. They’re my most comfortable undergarment. I seriously can’t live without them.
What is the most important thing to you when getting dressed?
Comfort first. I'm on the go a lot. I could be running around the city, or doing after school pick up. I can’t do that in high heels anymore, those days are reserved for fancy dinners or car to restaurant walks. I focus on being comfortable and choosing pieces that reflect my style without giving up who I am completely. I have this pair of high top converse that I really love. And they pair well with anything. If I’m doing a trade show, running around NYC or here in Toronto - those are my go to and they still look trendy.
Thanks so much, Nadine, for welcoming us into your space. Loving #WomanCrushWednesday? Subscribe to our YouTube channel to never miss an episode!