Portrait | Be Your Own Muse : An interview with Lingerie Curator and self-love advocate Sabrina Cassis
I met Sabrina a while ago, when I used to own an art gallery and event venue in Saint-Henri, Montreal. We use to rent out our space for events and Sabrina contacted me to organize a pop-shop for her lingerie brand, Alice Kass. I remember seeing her walk-in, in a big leopard patterned fur coat, sitting down at my office and talking business. When I think about it now, I’m like wow, we were two young female entrepreneurs making shit happen. I was 24, she was 26. I had an art gallery and she was throwing a huge pop-up shop for her lingerie brand. Not bad for two young adulescents.
I also remember her coming into the gallery wearing sweat pants, messy hair and no make-up on. From that point I knew I liked her even more. I kind of recognized myself in her because well, as much as I can show up to a casual dinner at a friends place in a fur coat and velvet pants, I can also turn up to a party in my PJ’s the next day.
She and her friends Charlotte at Deux Lions Jewelry and Ivy Rotchin a contemporary artist, beautifully transformed the gallery space. They brought in wooden pallets, white leather couches, firefly lights, artwork and organized a sexy, yet elegant body paint show…I was impressed to see these boss ladies completely transform the gallery into their own, very-feminine space.
In my search for inspirational women, I remembered Sabrina and contacted her for an interview. We met up 4 years later, at her apartment/studio where she lives and offers a unique personal shopping experience to her customers.
I discovered a multi-layered women with a deep sense of spirituality and self-awareness. We spoke about self-care, esoterism, mushroom coffee, anxiety, entrepreneurship and sobriety. I learned how thanks to Alice Kass, she was able to heal her wounds around her femininity, sexuality and sense of self-worth.
I hope that she will inspire you as much as she inspired me to be your own muse, love yourself and go after your dreams.
Her message : celebrate yourself and don’t wait after someone else to do it.
Tell me more about your path to becoming an entrepreneur. What was your career before you launched your brand?
Before launching Alice Kass in 2014 I was a fashion buyer at SSENSE. I studied both business and fashion in University but never had a clear idea of what kind of business I wanted to start. I learnt a lot from working for other people but always knew something was missing for me.
I'm an introvert and an empath and never felt at home in a corporate environment, it felt too cold and impersonal and inauthentic. On the other hand, super creative environments didn't work for me either. I've always straddled both worlds and being an entrepreneur really allows me to touch on all my interests.
What motivated you/pushed you towards what you are doing now? How did you make the shift?
I was unhappy at my job, was overworked and underpaid and decided I'd much rather be underpaid working for myself. I quit my job unexpectedly, took some time off, started a blog and travelled a bit, trying to reconnect to myself after having felt out of alignment. I worked on a business plan and applied for a grant. It all just kind of came together.
Why Lingerie ?
I always say that lingerie chose me. I honestly was never into lingerie, it was always a world that intimidated me. I was a tomboy growing up, nerdy, had a more masculine, tough style. Leather jackets, boots, ripped jeans. I never felt comfortable in my femininity and lingerie was the epitome of that. I always felt it was for a different type of woman. A woman in a relationship or just in touch with her femininity and sexuality.
I thought you had to be some sort of perfect bombshell and I was very insecure when it came to that side of myself. But the fact is, women wear underwear every day. Why should beautiful underwear be reserved for a man or for a special occasion? Should women not be connected to their femininity, feel beautiful and sexy even if they are the only ones seeing themselves in lingerie?
I discovered a whole world out there of women designers creating quality lingerie that appealed to women, no padding, no pushups, just comfortable yet still super hot styles. When I put on lingerie for the first time, I totally lit up. I felt sexy, empowered and confident. I felt like a woman and I liked it. It really transformed me and changed how I saw myself and how I thought about lingerie.
Any woman could have access to that feeling. Every woman should! Lingerie carries an erotic charge and it really opened up my eyes and helped me heal some wounds and fears I had around my femininity. I learnt how important loving yourself and embracing every aspect of yourself is. Women are shamed when it comes to their bodies and sexuality to this day, we're told we can't be sexual and be taken seriously. That we have to cover up and that our sexuality should only be reserved for one man and that we're not respectable if we enjoy and celebrate our bodies. I hadn't realized how afraid of that side of myself I was until I started exploring the world of lingerie. I learnt how powerful our femininity really is and that it is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Discovering the power of lingerie changed me.
And that's how my mission was born! I wanted to help other women connect to their inner goddess through lingerie and self-love the same way that I did!
When you took the decision to launch Alice Kass, did you have any doubts ? Fears ? Or were you 100% confident in your decision.
I was terrified. I still have doubts. Not in my mission and not in what I'm doing but more in the fact that I'm often misunderstood and that I don't have the marketing budget I would like to have. I 100% believe in what I'm doing and know I am contributing and that I am helping women feel confident and powerful. And it's so worth it for that. But of course, there are days where I'm worried. The instability can be terrifying. One month can be amazing and the next I think it's all over and that I'll have to shut down. It's very volatile.
But security is an illusion anyways so I'm learning to embrace the uncertainty and have faith in the process.
What would you consider are the biggest challenges for you in this project?
The nature of the product. People are still a little close minded, I still get banned by Instagram and FB when it comes to advertising, and there is a lot of competition.
Also the comparison game. My business is pretty much 100% dependent on Instagram so I'm always on. Also trying to find work/life balance is impossible. My personal and professional life are pretty much one and the same.
What are perks/rewards of being a business owner?
Getting to share and talk about whatever matters to me. Being able to pour my heart and soul into something, feeling like I'm actually making a difference in other women's lives.
The freedom is nice too, being able to change my return flights when I travel, getting to go for runs at any time of the day, getting to hide under blankets for a whole afternoon if I feel like it. It's a gift and a curse because it also comes with a lot of pressure and if I'm not on, not working, I don't make money. Everything really rests on my shoulders.
What advice would you give to people hoping to make this shift in their career?
Start right away, even if it's small. Surround yourself with supportive people. It's hard alone. Stay authentic no matter how much temptation there is to cave and do what everyone else is doing. Don't be afraid of getting personal. People want to connect with a human. The second I started putting myself out there in a personal, vulnerable way, that's when things started to happen for us.
What are your hopes for the future?
On a larger scale, I hope that women can express themselves fully without being shamed or worrying for their safety. I want the feminine to rise so that we can end the toxic masculinity that is still dominant in our society. On a personal/business level, I want to have more time to focus on the things I love like writing self-love articles, launching my Bed Talks podcast, creating a self-love workshop and launching our line of sustainable bamboo basics.