Laura Schoorl and her friend Rachel Corry were on a road trip to Santa Barbara when they started talking about the ideal underwear: minimal, sturdy, beautiful, locally-made; the kind of thing people could feel good wearing.
Today, Laura runs the California based company solo, but the intention was set, resulting in minimal colorful and ethical undies for feminine, community-minded women all over the world.
I/O: How would you describe Pansy?
Laura Schoorl: Pansy is minimal, comfortable, ethically-made underwear.
What is your mission as a brand?
To create comfortable products made ethically from organic local fibers. To be good.
Today, thanks to brands like yours, we are finally seeing body positive lingerie imagery. How do you cast the women you shoot for your visuals?
When we started out, we worked exclusively with friends - the very people we had in mind when we started Pansy. A majority of our models are still friends or part of our community. If we send pieces to photographers, they are mostly shooting their friends or women in their community.
Is authenticity one of your brand key values?
I always follow my intuition and do what feels good. We end up being authentic because I can’t help but follow my own heart all the time. I also try to only work with and promote other artists who are deeply connected to their art and the images they produce. I’m not moved by the typical Instagram blogger aesthetic. I fall in love with images taken by people who are inspired by something other than ego and consumerism.
What’s your policy regarding image retouching?
We don’t retouch our models in any photos. There is nothing we would want to change about any of the women that model for us!
A few words on your campaigns?
I like to have fun with our shoots and try to evoke worlds that I would want to live in.
On your social strategy?
Again, we try to be as inclusive as possible and only work with photographers that inspire us. I only post images that I find truly beautiful. Most of our portraits are taken on film and most of our still-life photos I take myself on my iPhone. I make it a part of my daily ritual to find a photo that day that I love and/or take a photo with Pansy in my world.
On your e-commerce and distribution globally?
I’m not that business minded. I didn’t start Pansy to make money; I just wanted to make the underwear that I wanted to wear. This said, we do sell online and we do sell around the world. We ship internationally and we also are starting to sell to little shops globally as well.
What are your long term projects or dreams for your company?
Our materials are entirely grown in the US and we sew and dye everything locally in California. I hope to continue to grow slowly and sustainably. We are remaking our website and I want the new site to have space that will educate people on caring for their garments and show them how to repair things and eventually compost the pieces at the end of their life. We have such amazing customers and fans and I’d love to be able to connect with everyone outside of Instagram. I’ve been dreaming of having a Pansy pop-up shop in NY next year for a few weeks.
How you reconcile underwear as a self-care piece and an empowerment tool?
Taking care of yourself and wearing minimal cotton underwear that makes you feel good is empowering. I am an intersectional feminist and I believe firmly in the empowerment of women around the world.
What does your community consist of?
I feel connected to many other female small business owners (many of whom you can find at the Echo Park Craft Fair in Los Angeles). I have a bond with everyone who endeavors to create a more beautiful world.
What experts do you admire? Who are your teachers?
I feel more connected to social justice leaders than I do to anyone in the fashion industry. I can be inspired by the beauty other women in fashion create but my life goals are more attuned to doing good in the world.
Who or what helped you get where you are today?
Following my heart and trying new things.
Particular challenges or obstacles, past or present?
Growth as a company. Until a year or two ago, it was just me running Pansy and now there are a couple more people who help me do everything. It was really hard to let go and now I’m trying to figure out how to run a business.
What particular challenges do you find women are facing and how can this be improved?
I think that women face different challenges in every part of the world and women of color face even more challenges. A huge issue for women in most of the world is economic freedom and access to education. We are in a moment in the US where our basic reproductive rights are being threatened and this will only be improved by changing who is in power and making sure we elect more women here and all over the world.
What role does travel play in your life?
I love to explore and travel. I find other cultures endlessly beautiful and inspiring. I travel to Latin America often. My family is from South America and I feel really connected to the culture. I’d love to go to Japan and Iceland next year. I just had a baby last month so traveling with a little one should be an adventure!
Tell us about your rituals.
I never set alarms and have hot chocolate and oatmeal for breakfast. Most other rituals are all in flux since my baby was born.
How do you achieve harmony in your life?
I try to enjoy life as often and as deeply as I can. I feel so incredibly lucky every day.
What inspires you more than anything else?
The natural world, plants, and landscapes.
What makes you happy?
Love and delicious food.
What do you do when something makes you unhappy?
I cry or throw a fit.
Let it go.