1. Dear Leonie, I am very pleased to be able to introduce you and LIAPURE as part of our Female Founder Community. Please tell us a little about yourself and your company.

I am also very happy that I can be a part of your Female Founder Stories. My name is Leonie Isabel Appels, Lia for short. I am the founder and designer of the Munich fashion label Liapure Design Studio from Munich. The name Liapure is made up of my initials and my philosophy of a pure and authentic style. With me you will find simple, reserved basics in the three basic colors off-white, beige and black. All pieces were 100% manufactured locally here in Germany.

I've always wondered why we actually invest the least in what we wear most often - namely good essentials. On average, we wear at least one essential every single day, which we combine as an overall look. My goal is therefore to combine craftsmanship and essentials and to develop timeless classics that last longer than one season, are therefore timeless and, thanks to their well-thought-out fit and high quality, are long-lasting. Of course, comfort shouldn't be missing here and the things also have to be easy to care for so that they bring lasting joy! Within my Essential collection I work exclusively with innovative natural fibers such as: Modal and Lyocell. These fibers are very absorbent (you sweat less in them), extremely dimensionally stable, incredibly soft on the skin and of course 100% sustainable and certified.

I think what makes Liapure unique is being able to offer essentials with the perfect fit through a high investment in cut development and fabric selection and therefore not reinventing the wheel, but doing it better than others. Instead of 30 collections a year, I try to create products that we wear and need all the time, every day, and that we have the most of in terms of cost per wear. Products that are timeless, comfortable and therefore guarantee longevity on all levels. On top of that, each fabric was individually dyed for Liapure using three Pantone colors, meaning we can offer perfectly coordinated monochrome looks. I also think that the local production of the products in Germany is something very rare. In this way, we reduce transport routes to a minimum - entirely in the spirit of sustainability.

2. How is a new LIAPURE garment created?

Material Research
Everything starts with the material. I already have my rough designs ready with sketches and an idea in my head - we're off to the trade fair. This is where we found all of our great sustainable materials from Italy and Portugal in 2019 (before Corona).

Fabric tabs/samples
After speaking to a few wholesalers, we had fabric tabs and price lists sent to us. If we liked a fabric, we ordered 1m of it and sewed it, washed it and tested it for robustness.

Lab dips
If we were still impressed with the fabric, we sent the manufacturer our three Pantone colors and asked him to send us lab dips (these are color samples for the respective fabrics). Because our Essential collection is based on three basic colors (off-white, beige and black) and all fabrics are dyed explicitly for Liapure according to these colors in order to achieve a perfectly coordinated monochrome look within the collection. All lab dips are then compared with each other, because every material absorbs color differently and so that everything is harmonious in the end, we sometimes have to request the lab dips from the wholesaler 3-4 times until they all really fit together.

As soon as I have a rough overview of the materials, their feel and weight, etc., I can finalize my designs. Draping on the dress form often helps in the design process. Sometimes I also construct the cut directly. In the next step, I sew my design as a test to explore the volume and be able to view my design as a real product (in order to make any changes if necessary). All these steps happen in my studio.

Master tailor - cutting refinement
With this paper cut and the prototype we go to Regensburg, to my master tailor Silke. Silke completed a 5-year training course as a master tailor and therefore has a different level of expertise in cutting technology than I did with my 3-year design studies in Berlin. Precisely because my basics have to fit perfectly, I rely on Silke's refinements and so we go through all the cuts together again and perfect them.

For the Atelier collection, we then continue directly with Silke, because she sews all of these limited and special pieces by hand.

Cutting digitization

For our essentials, however, we go back to Munich to Ms. Borgmann. She is the cutting director and digitizes and grades (creates cuts in different sizes) the paper cuts made by me and Silke and makes them ready for production. The whole thing is created using a CAD program on the computer. In addition , Ms. Borgmann then creates 20-page PDFs - Tech Sheets - in which every single processing step is recorded, including dimensions and length information, so that nothing goes wrong during production. At the same time, I then create so-called labeling mock ups - here I describe exactly (with a technical drawing) where and how my care labels and labels should be sewn into which item of clothing and how - there is then a technical flat drawing of each product with a front and back view from me too.

production precursor
Finally the time has come! The digitized cut goes to production. But before the entire product range is produced, we first have to have a production precursor sewn. This is done so that you can see whether the production has taken all processing steps into account correctly, whether the fabric has warped and whether the cut actually fits correctly. There is also a washing test to calculate and take into account the shrinkage of the models/fabrics.

As soon as we have received the precursor from production, I meet with Ms. Borgmann and we measure everything using our table from the technical documents, fit the part on the tailor's dummy and on me (sometimes also on other people) and take a look. what still needs to be improved. Afterwards I wash the model, measure it again (entry) and we enter everything into our table and then adjust the cut again if necessary.

On average, with my forerunner, the improvements from Silke and then Ms. Borgmann and the fittings, we need 3-5, but sometimes with more complicated models 5-7 forerunners. Hard to believe, right? But until a cut is perfect, it really takes a lot of development time. Each precursor costs a 300% surcharge on the later regular production price, as the seamstresses have to equip all machines with the right thread for just one model and also have to cut them individually. Overall, a lot of money goes into the development of our essentials - but we think it's worth it - because the cuts speak for themselves!

Free for production
Once the production precursor is approved, I create an order sheet and send it to production. All models, the number in the respective sizes and colors etc. can be found here and the models are then ready for production. We currently produce just under 30 pieces per model and color. The small quantities guarantee that we do not pump unnecessary products into an already oversaturated market and only produce them in line with demand.

Et Voila! – that was a very rough overview of the creation of a product (plus the development of labels and labels and much more).

3. What is your biggest challenge in your everyday life as a founder?

The biggest challenge for me is definitely mastering everything on my own every day. Since I don't have a co-founder, I often reach my limits. Work processes and tasks cannot be divided and the whole thing quickly becomes overwhelming. As a founder - as you know - you have to handle all the jobs that are usually split up into various positions in other companies all by yourself, every day - for example, marketing chief, business analyst, production planner, merchandiser, social media content Creator, Ceo, Brand Development Manager, Customer Service, Designer, Supply Chain Coordinator... etc. In order to keep a cool head with all the tasks, I always make to-do lists, which I then work through one after the other every day - completely It is also important to set priorities here, as unfortunately you usually cannot do everything. Flexibility and spontaneity are also very important here, as no day ever goes exactly as planned and many things always come up.

4. What are you most proud of?

I'm proud that I made it this far on my own and had the courage to start Liapure. I was often at my limits, but I always got up and kept going because Liapure is my heart's project - my dream. With my small studio, not far from the Viktualienmarkt, I managed to make my dream of a small shop/studio come true despite the incredibly high rent prices - not as a shop on the street (financially not yet possible), but all the more dreamy all in one beautifully idyllic backyard. This means I can take my customers with me on the journey - because my studio is not just a shop, but also my workplace, meaning all of my drafts and designs are created here. I'm proud of that, because it means I can show all of my great customers my cuts, explain the entire process of creating a product, and as a designer myself, illustrate and explain all the designs and hopefully enable a deeper and honest look behind the scenes make a small contribution to a more sustainable fashion world in the spirit of enlightenment.

PS: And of course I always feel a little proud when I see someone wearing my designs - I mean, what better compliment could there be for a designer?

5. If you could give other female founders 3 tips for starting their own business, what would they be?

1. Stay true to yourself - there will often be crossroads where you have to choose a direction - always remember to stay true to your vision and philosophy, no matter how tempting some offers may be.

2. Hang in there! There will often be days when you wonder why you're doing all this. Days when the valley seems infinitely deep and the way up seems so far away - always remember, good things take time and these are exactly the nasty moments - when things get difficult and everything feels insurmountable that we can grow!

3. Have a plan! Even if self-employment never goes exactly as you imagine, there has to be a rough roadmap! By that I mean: set limits for investments, plan your budget and set deadlines - because without a certain structure you will quickly lose your way, not only financially...



If you would like to find out more about Leonie and Liapure, please take a look here:

To the website: www.liapure.de
To Instagram: @liapure