QOTW: Empowered With Bare Arms

Deborah Millington// Donna Benjamin Photography

Deborah Millington// Donna Benjamin Photography

Embracing your insecurities and accepting them as part of your beauty isn’t easy for everyone, and not many people turn that into a business, but for Deborah Millington, it was the best way she could learn to feel body confident while encouraging other women to do the same. Millington founded RIGHT to Bare in September 2018, after a year of planning, and has since designed and produced a rainbow of camisoles, fit for all shapes and sizes. Her message is clear: feel confident while being a super role model. Millington chats with Qweens about her journey of self-love and body positivity through her company and how she hopes her brand does the same for others.

What inspired you to start RIGHT to Bare?

Primarily, it was to tackle the social issue of Body Confidence and promoting healthy attitudes to the way we, women in particular, view our bodies.

Why did you want to start with camisoles?

For me, the main part of my body I had the greatest issue with were my arms. When wearing a camisole, the arms have no hiding place, and so it made it the perfect choice for me.

Kristianah Fasunloye modelling camisole Persian Blue // Donna Benjamin Photography


Kristianah Fasunloye modelling camisole Persian Blue // Donna Benjamin Photography

How did you come up with the name “RIGHT to Bare”?

I have seen so many images and read countless articles commenting and questioning about a woman’s right to bare arms. These are generally depicted in a negative and unhelpful way. So for me, I wanted to reinterpret how that headline is received by women.

What sets your camisoles apart from others on the market?

The empowering message which comes with the brand and thanks to lifestyle experts like Marie Kondo, who advocates her KonMari Method approach to tidying up. Through this method, Kondo advises about detachment from items which no longer speak to our hearts which supports this current movement of investing and being more consciously aware of our sartorial choices where, as consumers, we are more inclined to invest in fashion items which resonate and connects with us.

Yes, you can purchase camisole from Reiss, Karen Millen, Cos, LK Bennet or any other high-end retailer. But RIGHT to Bare camisoles are hand made with a purpose of female empowerment and the promotion of body confidence, which is a message RIGHT to Bare advocates for our customers to take forward into their everyday lives until it becomes who they are.

Was there a specific reason you chose to make camisoles in the colours you’ve chosen?

Kristianah Fasunloye modelling camisole Tangerine Twist // Donna Benjamin Photography

Kristianah Fasunloye modelling camisole Tangerine Twist // Donna Benjamin Photography

Yes, colours are so uplifting, and with bright hues, there is no hiding place. I want our RIGHT to Barers to embrace their visibility fully in any scenario or environment. The vision is that you will recognize a RIGHT to Barer when you meet or see her!

Your Instagram bio says “SuperROLEmodels, not Supermodels,” is that your brand’s message?

Yes, thanks for picking that up. I believe all women have a role to play in promoting healthy and positive messages about their bodies. If not, we then get into a vicious cycle where we unknowingly and negatively influence and pass on these negative perceptions on to others around us, particularly young girls.

Aside from that, what else do you want the world to understand about your brand?

RIGHT to Bare is a coming of age brand (any age), it is a fun brand with a lot of creative energy and drive behind it. I feel we are in the right era to break the cycle.

How do you stay motivated as an entrepreneur?

Friends and family have been a tremendous help always encouraging, I also do a lot of yoga, which helps a lot in particular when I may be having a low moment.

Did you always want to be a designer and own a clothing brand?

I have always wanted to be successful, and I also liked the idea of creating a product/brand. I wasn’t sure exactly how that would be realized or manifest.

What ultimately pushed you towards designing?

I think the components of the brand were always there the dots just needed to be joined up through a series of events which occurred in my life and to be honest, which I could not have planned out.

What is something you know, now, you wished you knew when you first launched RIGHT to Bare?

How long the process from concept to manufacturing to distribution takes, you only really learn these things by thrusting yourself into it.

What is one piece of advice you would give other black fashion entrepreneurs?

Design and create fashion for people who wear clothes period. Clothes by a black fashion designer should be accessible for all. We live in such a multicultural world we just never know who is buying for who.

Who inspires you most?

The women in my family for a myriad of reasons, not least of all because they are strong, smart, hardworking and loyal women.

In the business world, I really like Julie Dean of the Cambridge Satchel Company, Tamara Melon who started Jimmy Choo and the late Dame Anita Roddick who founded The Body Shop. They have all created successful brands which I admire. But the ultimate doyen of business for me has to be Oprah Winfrey.

What does representation mean for you, in the fashion industry?

That I can access imagery and products of items of interest to me online within 10 seconds

Why do you think it’s so important to have representation in the fashion industry, not only from the models but the products sold?

From a social perspective, we get to learn so much about other cultures when they are given a platform to shine. Thankfully we do not live in a one size fits all society so to be able to access products which help to celebrate who you are at your most natural should be a choice afforded to all. As a businesswoman, it also makes commercial sense.

Do you see yourself expanding your brand to include other clothing options?

Yes, I don’t see why not. I regularly get requests to include shorts within the range. For me RIGHT to Bare is about feeling confident to bare parts of your body you may otherwise harbour judgement about, arms are one, but I am sure there are other parts like legs etc., so at some stage, it would be good to explore products which aim to spotlight those as well.

What’s next for you and RIGHT to Bare?

Well, this is our first summer of trading, so really it is about getting out there and introducing the brand to the wider public. A key part of this is to bring it offline by meeting people face to face where they can interact and be tactile with the product and find out about the story of RIGHT to Bare**. I have set goals for the business so I really just want to make sure we are on track to achieving those and then I will look at the future growth strategy for the brand.

If you were stranded on a desert island what are 3 things you would need to have with you?

Solar powered music device of any description which has been amply uploaded with 90’s and noughties classics, a picture of my adorable nephews and a tweezer.

**RIGHT to Bare will be hosting a meet and greet with founder and designer Deborah Millington April 28th at the South Place Hotel in London, UK. Tickets and info here.

Purchase your own RIGHT to Bare camisole here.