INTERVIEW: Eternal Reign founder Emily Liptak

Eternal Reign founder and entrepreneur Emily Liptak talks to Kat Slowe about her new lingerie brand Eternal Reign and her journey from life as a Korean orphan to forming the starting blocks of a new business empire.

“I don’t think I was born ambitious. I was born to be self productive,” says Eternal Reign founder and serial entrepreneur Emily Liptak.

“I was raised in an orphanage in Korea. The odds are stacked against any child who is in an orphanage. I was taught to survive at the age of one.”

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Liptak was adopted at the age of five and a half and brought by her new family to the US, where she proceeded to prove that she was not going to let her difficult start in life stop her from creating a glittering future for herself. In fact, her story isn’t dissimilar to that of a heroine of a Louise Bagshawe novel.

“You see all of this plenty,” she says, “and you learn from your parents that if you want to aspire to that, you have to work hard. That is what pushes me every time.”

And work hard, Liptak has. Since graduating from a girls-only college in fashion in Massachusetts, Liptak’s biggest problem has not been a lack of success, but rather a little too much of it. She has worked as a personal trainer, earned money as a lingerie and swimwear model, acted as a sous-chef at Nobu, owned her own property company and, this year, founded her own lingerie label.

“My jobs have only lasted about a year and a half or maximum three years,” she reveals, “but I like new challenges and I seem to quickly succeed at them, so I need something else to stimulate my curiosity.”

Liptak recently designed bikinis for high-end club Jalouse’s annual Cannes party, selling out all 150 pieces at a price of £300 each. She is currently in the middle of creating an entrance outfit for close friend Alexis Rufus, the current IKF world Thai boxing champion.

“I just notice that the last one that she had was a bit too masculine,” she says, describing her inspiration, “so I added a little bit of lace and silk to it to give it some feminine kick.”

The Eternal Reign label only soft launched a couple of months ago and the website, eternalreign.com, went live in June with the first three pieces.

Liptak started the process of forming the brand over three years ago when she moved to London from New York. At the time of her departure, she was working at Plan B, a foreclosure firm which she founded with four other partners.

“I was tired of giving 50 percent to a big corporate company when I could have it all to myself,” she says, laughing.

Lingerie design was not – to begin with – anything other than a side project for Liptak, driven by a frustration over not being able to find lingerie that sufficiently matched up to her designer wardrobe.

“I’m Korean American,” she elaborates, “and I’m not like the average Korean American – I am a 34C naturally. I am also a fitness buff and I couldn’t find anything where the wires didn’t stick me in certain places or the materials shrank, and then the dyes also ran, so I got really frustrated.

“Some things just don’t fall right when you have natural boobs, so I decided to create my own.”

After her friends began to show interest in the project, Liptak realised she had the foundations of a good business concept and, in what was beginning to look like typical Liptak style, gave up her job in New York and travelled to London, where she enrolled in the London College of Fashion and proceeded to follow her dream.

Two years, a couple of short courses at De Montfort and multiple samples later and Liptak was ready to realise her new brand. Not content with this work load, she simultaneously re-opened her distressed property real estate company in New York, called Reign Properties.

This year, Liptak is looking to develop her brand by gaining stockists and expanding her product line. She will be launching a new cruise line, this Autumn Winter, and will be gradually adding fresh pieces to her online lingerie offering.

“It is going to be kind of drip of designs,” she explains, “so you will see like two new designs at a time, because I am a perfectionist and I want to make sure that before I put them on the site, they are perfect.

“I want to give something new to the modern woman, unparalleled comfort, but also beauty… My pieces have different personality… different personalities. I feel that every day I am different, in a different mood.”

Within the next five years, Liptak hopes to have at least five stores, operating in Miami, St. Barts, the UK, Spain and New York.
She wants to maintain a maximum of three stockists per country in the belief that ‘too much of something is not good.’ Her target retailers are the likes of Harrods and Liberty in the UK, and Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys in the US.

Next year, Liptak will also be launching a new restaurant concept in the UK, called Eternal Health. A break with the Reign name, but maintaining the ‘Eternal’ theme, she says the restaurant and hotel company is something that already exists in the US, but will translate well to the UK market.

And Liptak does not plan to stop there. She describes women, such as David Bowie’s wife Iman and Mohammed Ali’s daughter Laila as her inspiration, respecting anyone with the ability to break records and tear down boundaries. While she may not wish to own the biggest business, it seems she does want to run the best, and not just for reasons of personal ego.

“I would hope to have achieved a level of achievement where I could make a difference,” she says. “I want to start setting up charities and start donating and making a difference in regards to education doing what Microsoft does, giving computers to schools, giving money to fun Arts… I know in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, that a lot of women there are being suppressed, so if they do say no to a date or to a marriage that has been set up, they get acid poured in their face. I want to create a charity where I pay for these women’s surgeries.

Liptak’s biggest legacy may not be her burgeoning business empire or even her likely success, for the success of this ambition entrepreneur is almost certain. No, her legacy is more likely to be the empowerment of women – acting as a perfect example of what you achieve from humble beginnings.

“I came up with Reign,” she says, finally, “because every woman has her own domain. We all have our own small kingdom. And who is the matriarch of every single family? The woman. That is how I came up with Reign. I am not about too big, I am always about just enough. Those are my favourite two words, ‘just enough’.”

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