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Meet
Love & Swans Owners
It all started as an Love between Maria & Ivan...
It all started as an experiment. My beloved one and I were traveling the South of Russia, near the Black Sea, talking, eating seafood, enjoying first stars on a sunset background.

These days I was thinking what to do after graduating the Master of Finances. After an internship at the Big Four audit company, it became clear to me that this path is not for me...

Maria LEBEDEVA
Love & Swans Founder
— I am always very interested in how people find their business, which way they go in search. So the question is: what did you do before Love & Swans? Did you study at a college or university, what specialty, if you did? In short, how did you get to where you are now?)
Maria: I studied Accounting, Finance and Audit. I planned to become a financier, and during my studies, I worked for the Big four audit company, PwC. After a while, I realized that I was not ready to work for a Corporation, in a "white-collar" office with a rigid corporate culture, and spend my entire life in an embrace with EXCEL... A career as a financial director in someone else's business didn't appeal to me either.
— When and how did you start Love & Swans? And why lingerie?
Maria: In summer of 2019, my partner Ivan and I went to the sea. The fresh wind, the vineyards, and the sunset sky made us almost blissful. At that time I was already doubting the path I had chosen, and the uncertainty bothered me. I kind of tried to become a financier, but I became disillusioned with the profession. I didn't know what I wanted, who I was, whether Finance was my personal desire or an imposed one.

On the way to the Bay, Ivan asked me what I liked. I answered without any doubt – lingerie. And it was true, since childhood I loved to look at it and try it on, even stealing thongs from my older sister from the closet! At a more conscious age underwear was a significant part of my budget. I could literally not eat for two days, but I always bought a new collection of Agent Provocateur.

Lingerie is so beautiful, fascinating, interesting, tender, intriguing, daring. I loved experimenting with style, looking for new images and unusual combinations, and I also loved (and love) to "play" and get used to these images. As a child, I dreamed of becoming an actress and even auditioned for Tabakov's school, perhaps this played some role.

I have a secret black box in my apartment (it used to be a box, now it's a whole compartment in the wardrobe), where I store my "treasures". When my friends come to visit me they often ask me to show them my collection . I feel that these things and my choice inspire them, considering and trying on images from my collection, they behave differently than in ordinary life, revealing their feminine and artistic sides. In general, underwear is not just an accessory or an item of clothing, it is something akin to theater and art.
— By the way, I saw in you profile that you have men's underwear too. Why don't you put it in your range?

Maria: Oh, it was a fun gift for Ivan, so I just decided to make fun of it. It turned out cool, but now I'm not ready to display, since the main focus is still on the women's collection. Everything will happen, but gradually!:)
— Do you come up with the design yourself?

Maria: Of course, all designs are created and developed by our team:) Everything from the name and logo to the packaging was born within our walls.
We also work with other artists and illustrators. One of our areas of work is collaboration. We are looking for young and talented artists who are given the opportunity to participate and implement their ideas in our project. I think it's very cool when your ideas are not just digitized but exist in the real world and bring benefits.
— Do you remember this moment when you decided to create your own project? What was the first step?

Maria: It was a hot summer... Right after we got back to the city I was taken by the idea of making a multi-brand online boutique, a la Farfetch or Net-a-Porte, but with underwear, but some of the key brands refused (probably for the better), and I abandoned this idea.

Almost immediately I decided that buying cheap underwear in China or India and then sell it at a markup (which is what many modern Russian clothing brands do) is not our option, since I have always considered quality to be the most important value. For us, it is always a priority, it is better to do less, but better quality and with attention to detail. Plus, quality is the best way to be eco-friendly.

Our production is located in Krasnodar, I can control the creation of the product at every stage. If I worked with China, this would be impossible. The first step is to choose a direction and move steadily, without deviating from the course. Yes, your own production is difficult, I remember how in my head there was only a ghostly image, I did not imagine how it could be done, but thanks to insistence and work, everything turned out.
— How did the name appear?

Maria: Everything is simple! Love & Swans is a literal child of love. And my last name is Lebedeva, in Russian — Swan :)
— The Love & Swans Instagram is very different from others, I would not even call it a store account. You not only show your product, but also write about movies, fashion history, share music and tell love stories. Why? Is this an elegant marketing ploy or something more?
Maria: I would not call this a marketing ploy. It rather reflects the concept of our project – to share impressions and experiences with your loved ones. Who can be closer, at least to the body, than a favorite brand of lingerie?
— Does Love & Swans have its own philosophy? Its mission?
Maria: The brand's philosophy is a reinterpretation of cultural concepts and stories in a light and concise performance of our underwear. Our mission is to give girls unique, meaningful things that are usually available only in single copies or in the haute couture segment.
— How long have you been doing business?
Maria: As a result, after all the creative and design work, we launched in the spring of 2020, at the most fun time:)
The idea was that underwear is a kind of treasure, something that a girl can admire ad infinitum, a kind of thing-in-itself. In a word, as the piece of art.

We decided to create collections of underwear that convey stories, concepts, images — and to realize this in embroidery, not decorative, but as objective and concrete as possible. Technologically, it was not easy...
Ivan KUKKOEV
Love & Swans Founder
— What is future of Love & Swans?
Ivan: The idea was that underwear is a kind of treasure, something that a girl can admire ad infinitum, a kind of thing-in-itself. In a word, as the piece of art. We decided to create collections of underwear that convey stories, concepts, images — and to realize this in embroidery, not decorative, but as objective and concrete as possible. Technologically, it was not easy.

Then we have invited our first team members — technologist, seamstresses, shaper. Together we perfected the product. Now we continue striving for the ideal. We have experience in launching international business, and It helps us to grasp the immensity, to move forward and believe in our brand.
A simple question has been asked — what do I love?
I immediately answered — lingerie.
Our sketches for the new set Japan Chapter Two.
Follow Love & Swans on Instagram.