BoPeeps, a British lingerie brand that became inspired by Mary Portas and her 2012 Made in UK documentary, has ceased trading, Lingerie Insight has learned.
The London-based company, which manufactured many of its garments in the UK using Nottingham lace, quietly closed for business in late November, seven years after it was founded. All stockists, which were based online, have been informed.
Founder and co-owner Bo Macdonald said that she and her business partner, Monique Van Steenkiste, became victims of their own success, attempting to run a company made up of two people, after gaining unprecedented coverage in the press and releasing a line for goop, the online lifestyle company founded by Gwyneth Paltrow.
“We were initially too slow out of the gates and then we gained such speed with the British press, Lana Del Rey on tour in our Made in London Frilly, and awards and nominations that we just imploded,” she said.
“It became so difficult for us at every turn that all of the brand’s great potential to move forward stagnated while we scrambled to keep up with ourselves. The big picture was fading from our peripheral vision because our focus had to be task oriented; we could only handle what was right in front of us demanding our constant attention.
“Crucially, it was at this time that we should have been seeking an investor to help us build a team. Timing continued to be ridiculous, just when we were discussing putting the company to bed, we’d win an award and then ride that wave a while longer. We needed a team and for that we needed investment, but investors want to see growth and although we had growth in terms of brand awareness, the immense pressure of keeping up with day to day operations, made it impossible to grow the collection.”
Macdonald said she empathises with Headen & Quarmby, the manufacturer behind Mary Portas’ brand Kinky Knickers, which recently fell into administration.
“When a small domestic industry is in decline, there are few players left. The ones you work with end up meaning a lot, and it can become quite personal especially if your name is on it or attached to it,” she said, adding that she studied Portas’ documentary Mary’s Bottom Line when it aired on Channel 4 two years ago.
“I recorded it and watched it up to 10 times in certain places. I was in the industry and I knew some of the people on her show,” she said.
“At that moment in time my company was experiencing some of the same scenarios that were playing out on Mary’s show. I wanted and needed to see how they (as a team) handled those situations. In a sense I studied Mary Portas and gained immense respect for her after seeing how she conducted herself.”
Macdonald is currently clearing out the BoPeeps headquarters from her home. As for the future, she said she has received some “compelling propositions” for work in the lingerie industry, but added: “I felt very close to our customers. I’m not sure what I am doing next.”