Getting To Know: Frances Rather of Flat Frances

MaggieGentry interviews Frances Rather, founder of Flat Frances, the lingerie line for flat-chested women with a sense of humor.

I hardly even know how to start this post because I am SO. FREAKING. EXCITED. Today is the official launch of Flat Frances, a lingerie line for flat-chested women with a sense of humor! I first met Frances about a year ago when she first moved back to Texas from New York City, and when we first met, the idea of Flat Frances hadn't even been hatched yet.

When Frances decided to take the steps forward to make it a reality, we got together so that we could build a solid branding and marketing strategy building up to the launch. This was the first time I've gone through the entire production process with someone, and it was remarkable to see just how much is involved, how much patience you need, and how much you really have to want it to persevere through all the kinks along the way. (Having a wicked sense of humor and a cute cat definitely helps you get through the rough patches!) 

This project has definitely stretched me creatively, and it's been such a fun ride to hang with Fran this entire way through. Go give her some love today, AND you can shop her launch special - 25% off everything for the first 48 hours!! 

 

Share with us a little bit of your background and what inspired you to start Flat Frances.

I grew up in a small town in Texas. I had a lot of interest in art, and there wasn't much opportunity for me there. One summer, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the summer fashion program at Parsons. I loved New York and ended up going to Pratt Institute to earn my BFA. I lived in New York for 12 years and in that time worked for an architecture firm, a vintage store, a fashion website, I did styling for magazines and runway, and a lot of other random things - at night I would do stand up comedy. I like doing things that scare me a little, and after moving to Austin last summer I decided to launch a business, and Flat Frances was born!

I have never been capable of filling out bralettes because I'm flat-chested. So I'd been buying tween bras from Target, and making fun of myself. I'm "flat Frances." So I decided to make bras for myself and others like me. The idea behind my company is to detract from the big retailers' notion of sexy, which more or less stems from the male-gaze. Sexy can be strong, cute, beautiful, or maybe even a little fucked up and gross. I wanted to make something that makes your lover laugh when you take your clothes off. Flat Frances is funny, cute, a little weird, and I think that's the kind of sexy worth creating.

What aspect of your work is the most life-giving for you?

Working toward the goal of creating something you believe in is amazing. I'm not solving world huger or anything; I'm making some pint-sized brassieres. But I hope that the existence of Flat Frances makes people smile, and creates a fun space for women to be themselves.

Was there ever a time when you happily ignored external validation or outside advice about your business so that you could follow the True North that you created for yourself? If so, how did making that choice to follow Your Why impact not only you, but your business?

Not necessarily external, but I've certainly gone back and forth in my own mind. I'm a Gemini (like Maggie!) so I tend to feel very dual about things; to argue with myself. I had to make the decision to say political-ish things on the Flat Frances Instagram. But my concentration is on small breasts, and as women, our bodies are inherently political battlegrounds. One of the reasons I started Flat Frances was to make women feel empowered, to give women a voice. Otherwise what's the point if I don't use my own? Plus I really loath small talk; there are only so many times I can stand to caption something about my panties being in a bunch because it's Monday.

I know that creating Flat Frances has been a true labor of love with lots of teachable moments along the way. What was your biggest takeaway that you would share with others who aim to start their own fashion line one day?

Oh yes, for sure! I believe in doing things before you're ready. But that comes with a lot of quick learning, and growing pains. I've always been on the styling end of fashion, and knew nothing of tech packs or factory runs. I've worked for big name designers in the past, and I never understood their stress levels till now....and Flat Frances is very minuscule in comparison, so I can't imagine. You have everything invested. You want everyone to be as invested as you are. Sometimes you get really lucky, and work with someone like Maggie. And sometimes you work with people that do the most mediocre work they can get away with, and honestly that sucks.   

My take away is: plan on everything taking three times longer than you think it will. Bring desserts to your pattern makers. "Touching-base" should be done often and with kindness. Don't complain, work harder. Keep your receipts. And when you get burnt out: read, drink wine on a hammock, go for a walk, paint your nails a crazy color, look at art. The best ideas don't happen when you're beating yourself up. There is a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic that says, "You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures." And that has been my mantra.  

Now that it’s finally out there in the world, what aspect of this work are you most proud of?

I'm proud of the community I've built surrounding Flat Frances, and I hope it continues to grow, and women feel like they are included, and part of the brand. I'm proud to create a space of inclusion and togetherness.

The inaugural Flat Frances line includes three bra designs. What was your inspiration for each one?

Right now we have three styles: a triangle bra, shelf bra, and halter bra. I like the idea of a bra being part of your outfit look. The idea of being able to see your bra straps, or bra under a shirt. I had this idea in mind when creating the shapes. The triangle bra is a shape that can be easily worn under a slouchy tank or a spaghetti strap top; I think it's a fun look to show off the criss-cross back. The shelf bra was inspired by all things 90's, specifically the scene in Clueless, where Cher is at tennis practice. It's the sportiest bra, and while Flat Frances bras are not sports bras, I've definitely felt comfortable wearing this bra to cycle and yoga classes. The halter bra was vaguely inspired by an old Norma Kamali swimsuit top I'd wear as an actual top. I just love the idea of a bra being a top, especially in the dead of Summer. All of our bralettes are also lined with a complementary pattern, and that's sort of special because only the wearer can see it.  

Can you share with us any hints of what we might expect from the next Flat Frances line?

In the future I see us adding a high waisted granny panty (Granny Franny) and a selection of leotards. I'd love to do some artists print collabs, specifically female artists! I'd also like to eventually add an xs and xl size option.

I’ve gotta know; who are some of your style icons?

Oh gosh, so many! My father is the most fashionable person I know, and has always been my big style icon. He gives me his hand-me-downs to wear (most recently a silver bow tie). I'm also inspired by interesting female characters in film. Young Gena Rowlands in Minnie & Moskowitz, Sissy Spacek in Badlands, Ali MacGraw forever and always. Also Jane Birkin, but that's everyone I assume.  

Let’s get dreamy for a minute. If you could take a look at the future, what do you see for not only yourself personally, but also for Flat Frances? What are you doing today to help you realize that vision?

I want to find as many ways as possible for Flat Frances to support women, and I don't just mean supporting boobies. I was listening to a podcast and Martha Beck said something like, "I'm showing up to serve the world, rather than showing up to serve my own ego." I love that. I think it's such an exciting time for women, specifically female entrepreneurs. I hope to connect more with that community. To learn, and grow together. I'd love to do collaborations; I think it's a great way to grow and expand. It's challenging for me because I'm such an introvert, and sort of a big time recluse. My ideal life is to be a house cat, owned my a widowed perfume heiress, living on a veranda in France. But I'm really trying to be better about reaching out! So if you're a female entrepreneur reading this, please let's get coffee! Also, I'd love to have a real office and tiny showroom space.   

BONUS: Please feel free to share anything else that is coming to the surface or that you’d like to share. 

I'm so grateful for this space you created. Thank you for existing Maggie, this was fun!

 

Want to know more? Eager to connect with Frances? Here's how:

Have a collaboration idea? Get in touch with Frances directly:

frances@flatfrances.com

Fun little extra:

Get free shipping on orders over $65 with the code SHIP65 till September 1st!