I've started this letter in my head a million times. The long and short of it: La Vie en Orange is closing at the end of the month.
What that means for you: you have 2 more weeks to place orders, ask for repairs on previous orders, reach out about that custom order you've been dreaming about or finally take the plunge for the first time.
This April marks 8 years of making underwear for people that aren't me. I don't make this decision lightly. Hours of tears.
You have meant so much to me, and being a part of your life has changed mine irrevocably. You have made me a better person: more confident and less scared to have opinions or rock the boat, more affirmed in my voice and its value, a better artist, more honed at my craft, a cis advocate for the trans community, less ableist and more intersectionally feminist and more body positive. I am so grateful to have gotten to know you through your orders and comments and emails and I love you.
Quite simply, I am exhausted. And that's enough of a reason. My stress levels are untenable, and I joke about "flirting with burnout" but the truth is, burnout and I have been bedfellows for the last couple of years.
I had some mobility struggles last year that made it difficult (read: impossible) to keep up with orders, and my full recovery has made me value my health and mobility in ways I didn't a year ago. I have neglected my health since I started making undies publicly 8 years ago. For 5 of those years, I've had a demanding 40+ hour/week day job in the non-profit sector.
LVEO was my first business, and I made some mistakes, like neglecting my health for 8 years :). But also, I set income goals and a timeline with my family for giving this business a shot, that I was ultimately unable to meet. Running this business took a financial and emotional toll on my marriage. After spending 3 years focusing on LVEO I needed to reenter the formal workforce to stay married and keep the vows I made to the person I care about most. And I love making undies on nights and weekends. And it is too much. So I'm saying goodbye. For the foreseeable.
I love you.
If I've done custom work for you, I'll be emailing to see if you'd like the pattern in my studio with your name on it.
If you sew, and are interested in purchasing a digital pattern, please email me. I've been thinking about digitizing them. :)
If you are someone I've been working with for years, I'll still make your underwear, just email me. I know I'm sending mixed messages, and I don't care. I'm still making undies for friends and family. You know if you're friends and family, and I still want to make undies for you. Forever.
If you live in Kalamazoo and want to come celebrate (please do!), join me at Up & Under on Tuesday, 4/30, starting at 4:00p. It will be a ridiculous celebration- a mix of clients, artists, entrepreneurs, and friends. I will be there until at least 9p, and will be getting drunk (I've heard I'm entertaining), and there will be underwear cake made by Dessert First.
There is so much to celebrate. And so many things I'm still figuring out how to put into words. Mostly, I just want to thank you for coming on this weird handmade underwear journey with me. You took a chance, and trusted me, and together we built something really special.
I'm not doing any markdowns. Lots of shelters need underwear, so I'll be able to find a good home for any remaining stock. Mostly I just wanted to give you a chance to place an order before the shop goes quiet. While I will be slow to fill orders placed in these next two weeks (it'll take you months to get your order), of course I'll honor the Hot Booty Guarantee. I'll be working past April, just not taking any new orders from that point on.
Thank you for taking this wild ride with me.
P.S. These photos (RIP) from my men's shoot last summer never saw the light of day with all my health issues. Enjoy! Photo credit: Kaitlin LaMoine Photography