MARVELL LANE'S founder Rachael Calvert, has an 8G bust, and from a very young age she discovered the lack of functional and fashionable pieces on the market when it came to swimwear. From this, MARVELL LANE was born, in Byron Bay in 2017 specialising in 8D-16H swimwear that is designed to enhance and celebrate a woman's gorgeous curves. It is their mission to produce ethically and sustainably made garments, which make their customers feel confident, sexy and supported. We caught up with Rachael and found a little more about what makes her tick and how starting your own business can be pretty daunting, yet so rewarding!
Tell us a wee bit about your younger years and how these have impacted on your life now?
I grew up in a little bush town on a river. I was always very active, played a lot of sports and loved swimming. However, when I hit puberty, I grew hips and breasts very early on (10C/8D at the age of 13 years old) and the way my male peers and men noticed me and interacted with me really changed. It was horrible! So I've always been very aware of my breasts and the sexualisation of breasts. It really feeds into the narrative of MARVELL LANE (my swimwear label) and how I want to teach my customers and audience that they don't need to be ashamed of, or cover up, their breasts. Which society often tells us we have to be!
Your first major profession was law. Has this helped you in any way to create Marvell Lane?
Being trained to work as a lawyer is very helpful in business - we actually study a lot about business as a by-product of the corporate law, commercial law, contract law and employment law subjects. I developed a strategic way of thinking and a very strong work ethic from my 3 years as an intern (whilst I studied) and then my few years in practice. These are all essential skills for when you're starting your own business because believe me, you're never going to work harder! My law degree did not help me creatively though! haha.
You moved from Sydney to Byron Bay, what was your main reason for the switch?
I always wanted to move home to the Northern Territory (Australia) but my husband likes to surf - so he was never going to move there (no surf and lots of saltwater crocodiles!). haha. When my youngest brother died unexpectedly in 2015 it catastrophically shifted my world, what I wanted out of life and really bumped me off the "rat race" of the corporate world. So I gave it all up, moved to Byron Bay, worked little jobs for a while and I've never looked back or had a desire to go back.
Was there a moment when you decided enough is enough, its time to create ‘Marvell Lane”
YES! My one swimwear top that fit me (I'm an 8G, size 10-12 dress size) broke and I couldn't buy a new top in my town (Byron Bay). I did find another swim top but it was horrible. It had moulded padded cups (so added bulk), you had to squeeze the excess water out of your top for so long after getting out of the water, and it was ugly (and conservative)! It just didn't reflect me, my tastes or my age at all. I knew I couldn't be the only one having issues, so I decided to do something about it.
Tell us what makes Marvell Lane so special for women?
MARVELL LANE is the intersection of supportive swimwear for fuller busts whilst still being fashionable. I've taken everything I ever wanted to see in swimwear for busty women and incorporated it into my designs, i.e. underwires for support, light coverage (not too conseravative), youthful silhouettes, current/stylish prints & colours and sustainable manufacturing principles. Because my styles are deliberately more revealing than most swimwear brands, so much of MARVELL LANE is about encouraging women to not be ashamed or feel the need to cover up their bust.
Has fashion/design ever been something you saw yourself working in?
Not necessarily, however I have always loved fashion as an interest and I've always been creatively inclined (I still can't believe I became a lawyer. haha) so transitioning in some ways hasn't been that hard.
Are there any specific fashion styles you feel are better suited to bigger busted women?
I always think women should wear what they want however for myself, I tend to stick to a low-cut square neckline or v-neck option (not too much fabric) for tops or dresses. One thing busty women tend to do is cover up their bust with more fabric, which actually makes it look even bigger, so I avoid excess fabric. I try and stick with bias cut silhouettes for skirts and dresses as well - they look gorgeous on women who have curves to enhance (which is most of my customers) and they don't shoot off at our curviest points which a lot of straight-cut options do - resulting in us wearing a tent-like dress or skirt. I also love nothing better than a bias cut skirt paired with an oversized shirt that's knotted at the waist or under my bust - nice and relaxed but can look a little more polished if need be!
You’re an amazing inspiration to women especially those with bigger busts, has this been a reason for your continued motivation for Marvell Lane
That's a very kind thing for you to say. I keep going with MARVELL LANE and our online community because I just try to create the space that I needed when growing up - or even now! It's very fun, light hearted and we all need to be present and standing up for ourselves if we want to see anything change!
Having a family and your own business can be a juggling act…any tips or mantras you live by to make this more manageable?
I don't always have balance - and I'm about to have my first child, so I don't think "balance" is something I'm going to nail. haha. I'm lucky though because my husband also works for MARVELL LANE now, so we're going to try 50:50 with contact time and the new baby. We also have other full time staff - thank goodness. To be honest, my business is only just over 3 years old and still requires a lot of attention to keep growing. Check back in 2 years time and see how I'm going with time management. haha.
Owning your own business can be hard. Have you ever experienced self doubt and if so, how did you overcome this?
Yes, of course I experience self-doubt - that's a natural and normal experience. If you don't ever experience self-doubt then I'm concerned you've got grandiose perceptions about yourself. hahaha. Just kidding. One of the things I have learnt though is that ideas are usually borne out of a need, so sometimes you can doubt yourself because bringing something to fruition can be hard/difficult/feel impossible, but you also need to remind yourself why you're doing it in the first place - always return to your why. If you can't answer your 'why' with what you're doing then do you need to be doing it? Oh, and there is nothing like self-doubt once you've paid your deposit for production and then think about everything that could go wrong. haha.
Who’s your biggest inspiration?
I always look to hustlers for inspiration. Nothing anyone achieved in life is easy, even if they make it look like it is - I can guarantee they've worked their backside off. The most inspirational women are Mia Freedman (of Mamamia), Julie Bishop (former Australian Foreign Minister), Celeste Barber (comedian), and my mum (midwife and mother of 5) - she's the biggest hustler of all!
You ooze confidence, do you have any mantras that help you with body confidence, self-love or just something that makes you feel like a goddess?
I am not always confident, but I have made a huge effort to not talk negatively about myself (out aloud or internally) and it has really changed the perception I have of my body! For example I talk about my juicy or strong thighs instead of my "fat" thighs and it has totally changed the way I look at them. I used to resent them but now I don't even think they're fat - they're just juicy and strong - which is the truth! I'm a strong believer in knowing that we have to do the work to rewire how we feel about our bodies!
You are an expert when it comes to creating swimwear for bustier women. When shopping for bras, what is the one thing that is a must-have?
A professionally fitted bra will change how you look and it will also change whether you can wear a bra all day or have to rip it off as soon as you walk in the door, so if you can, go and get professionally fitted. I also love a good underwire, slightly thinner straps and a lower cut neckline so I can wear my bras under nice dresses and tops - which is my fashion style!
You’ve tried a few Hotmilk nursing bras. What is favourite and why?
I have two favourites! One is the Lunar Eclipse Nursing Bra (wirefree - 10H) - the fabric in this bra is so buttery and soft. I can literally wear this bra all day and night - no digging in and it has a lovely sleek fit. The other bra I love is the Warrior Balconette Black Contour Nursing Bra (flexwire - 10H) - this bra is very sexy but low cut enough to go under lots of my tops and dresses (I just had to trim off the bust straps). I don't feel frumpy in a bra like this at all. That being said, I can't wait to see the Warrior Plunge bra go up to a 10H because I would buy that immediately as it will go under more of my clothing!