Broods interview with the Curvy Kate Australia Star In A Bra 2011 winner Julia McLean!

With the Curvy Kate Australia Star In A Bra competition now open (enter here) I wanted to talk to some of the ladies who have been apart of it all and to give you the encouragement to enter this year, first up is last years winner and first Australian SIAB winner Julia McLean!

Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview, it is so
great to finally get a chance to chat. For those who don’t know Julia won the first Curvy Kate Australia Star In A Bra competition last year and will soon be handing over the title to this year’s winner, can you give the readers a bit of background info of who you are and what you do please?

I’m Julia, I’m 20 years old and I live with my family on Brisbane’s north side. I’m
currently studying business and law at QUT and I’m half way through my third year.
When I’m not studying, I do some work at my mum’s market research firm, I play
hockey, dance, cook, play with my two beagles and spend a lot of time with friends
and family.

Last year you entered the competition through Facebook, what was it that motivated you to enter?

Last year I was motivated to enter by a friend Robyn, the owner of Arianne on
Edward (a lingerie store in Brisbane’s CBD), who suggested that I enter SIAB. I hadn’t
heard of Curvy Kate before the competition, so I did a bit of research on previous
competitions in the UK and just fell in love with the entire concept. It was so
refreshing to see that the brand of Curvy Kate was using everyday women to model
their lingerie. At once, I knew that I would love to be able to support the brand’s
positive ethos. I just wanted to spread the message of being happy and confident
in who you are, and that curves should not be hidden, but instead be accentuated,
celebrated and supported by fabulous, well-fitting lingerie!

A big thankyou to Robyn then for getting you to enter.  Once you finally bit the bullet and decided to have a go, how easy was the process and how did you enter?  (You can now submit your entries via this link)

It was actually quite easy – it was all through the Curvy Kate Australia Facebook page. There are heaps of instructions on the Facebook page, the Star In A Bra website, on the Curvy Kate blog and on independent blogs, so there’s lots of help out there!

A great list of resources there, you went from being accepted into the Top 20 and then voted into the Top 5 which meant you got to go for a professional photo shoot wearing the Curvy Kate lingerie with the other 4 ladies, at most of the shoots a lot of the ladies are re-fitted into their correct size, did you need to be refitted?

As I mentioned before, I had been shopping at the specialty store Arianne before the
competition. About 6 months prior to SIAB, I had been properly fitted – I went from
a 12DD/10E to an 8FF/F! So at the shoot I was lucky enough to already be wearing
my correct bra size.

Wow a considerable difference in bra sizes there, at least now you are in your correct size which is so important.  Quite a few of the ladies who make the top 20 and top 30 (overseas) become great friends afterwards, do you still keep in touch with any of the other finalists?

I only got to meet the top 5 finalists, all of which were such beautiful women. Given
that we came from different cities and from very different walks of life, it has been
difficult to keep in contact after the competition. So generally we just connect on
Facebook, keep up to speed on what we’re all up to, and have the odd chat.

That is nice to hear there is still some communication.  After the photo shoot came the campaigning, how much time did you put into
promoting yourself and how important is self campaigning for the ladies this year?

I came into the SIAB competition with the mentality that “I’m only going to have
this opportunity once, so I’d better put in my absolute all!”. I didn’t want to have
any regrets or think that I could’ve done more or put more effort in. With regards
to campaigning, I hit the ground running. I was able to contact local print media
who ran a few stories. I also visited Curvy Kate retailers, put up posters and spread
the word via Facebook. My friends and family were great too; contacting extended
family, old friends and just drumming up support in general. It is so important to
expand your networks and take advantage of every contact you have!

When campaigning, one thing I learnt is that you have to have a thick skin, especially when dealing with media and press. Some people will be interested in your story, but others will simply turn their nose up at you. During the competition, I just thought that the more places I hit, the greater my chance would be to get some press coverage and exposure!

All that hard work definitely paid off!  Jumping forward to the day of the winner announcement, when you found out that you won what were you most excited about and how did you celebrate your win?

When I found out that I’d won, it was just all very surreal. It didn’t sink in for a while.
When it finally did, I think I was just incredibly excited to meet everyone at Curvy
Kate. I couldn’t believe that I was going to meet, let alone “model” beside the two
main CK faces, Laura and Lauren! I think at the time I had a bit of a crush on both of
them! I was also pretty excited about the prospect of going to LONDON to shoot the
catalogue. Having never been to England before, I was ready to seriously “get my
tourist on”.

It’s ok I have bit of a crush on the gorgeous girls as well.  Not long after you were whisked away to the UK for your big catalogue photo shoot with the other gorgeous Curvy Kate models, what was going through your mind while standing on set right before your first photo was taken?

I was pretty overwhelmed! Just before I stepped in front of the camera, Hannah
from Curvy Kate had shown me an old catalogue and told me that I could pull
some of the trademark “CK moves”… So when the camera was pointed my way,
my mind was just trying to co-ordinate my limbs (right arm here, left leg there) and
concentrating on trying not to look completely ridiculous!

Hannah is awesome, walk us through the day of the shoot and what it was like meeting Laura, Lauren and Lizzie and the rest of the CK team?

The shoot was such an incredible experience. It was so fast paced, from beginning
to end. I loved meeting Laura, Lauren, and Lizzie, even though I was a tad intimidated
standing between the “seasoned professionals”! But they were all so lovely and I
could not have asked for a better group of girls to spend those two days with. The
Curvy Kate team, including Alison their photographer, was an incredible bunch of
people to work with. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the people who put so much
hard work into building this brand that I have grown to love. I also really enjoyed
experiencing first hand the process that goes into shooting an entire catalogue.
After the two-day shoot I was so exhausted and a bit sad that it was all over. I truly
wanted to do it all over again!

You could tell in your photos that you were having the time of your life, how was the experience over in the UK?

The UK was great! I was in London for about 10 days, so I was able to do a bit of
sightseeing and shopping after the shoot was all wrapped up. I was also really lucky
because my dad was in London at the time travelling for work, so we were able to do
some sightseeing and exploring together.

How lovely, you looked stunning in your shoot and look like you have been a part of the CK family for years, which photo out of the shoot are you most proud of?

Thank you!! You are too sweet Brood! I was so happy with how the AW12 catalogue
came out, but I think my favourite photo is probably the one of Lauren and I in the
white and nude Emily bras. I’m also really proud of the photo on the inside cover
where I got to wear the new teal princess bra. I think I just look really happy! It
brings back such great memories from those two days.

Both of them are great, I can definitely see why you love them, what did you enjoy the most out of the UK trip?

I’d have to say the shoot! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never

I bet it would have been hard coming down from that high and returning home to a normal life, was life different for you after the competition and did people treat you differently?

It was a bit strange coming back to reality after having such an incredible experience.
People didn’t really treat me differently afterwards, which I was really relieved
about. The only thing that was a bit different was that I got a lot of questions and
comments from people asking how the competition went and wanting to hear all about the trip! I was so lucky that I had an overwhelmingly positive reaction. My family, friends and even extended networks of acquaintances were incredibly supportive but also very inquisitive. It was a great opportunity to spread Curvy Kate’s message of encouraging a positive body image, and it was also a good opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of bra fitting, especially for a fuller bust.

Is lingerie modelling or any modelling something that you would like to pursue or are you happy to hang up the heels and focus on your university work?

Trying my hand at modeling was something I thought I’d never get the chance to do,
given I’m only 5 foot 6 tall! I’m open to any new opportunities that may come my
way in the future, but I’m also content with the great experiences that I have had
with Curvy Kate.

That is the beauty of the comp, giving every day women the chance to be a model, I love it.  You also got a year’s worth of free Curvy Kate lingerie, what did you choose?

There was so much beautiful lingerie to choose from! I picked a few basics – Emily,
Portia and Daily Boost, as well as an Elegance set for those times where I want a
bit of va-va-voom. I also put my name down for some of the divine pieces in the
AW12 range – pretty teal Princess, a lovely Gia, leopard print Wild and Entice! I’m
so excited! Ooh and also, word along the grapevine is that there’s a Curvy Kate
convertible bra set to come out in the SS13 range… so hopefully I might get to try
that one too!

Fantastic choices there.  Being the Australian face and body of the brand, have you been recognised in the street?

Not quite Brood! Although during the SIAB competition last year, a couple of people
that I hadn’t met before came up to me at uni and told me that they had voted for
me! I didn’t realise that so many ‘friends of friends’ were showing their support. I
was so touched!

It is amazing how much word spreads on social networks, do you have any regrets from last year or wished that you had done anything

I’m really happy to say that I don’t have any regrets. I jumped in the deep end,
pushed myself out of my comfort zone and put in a lot of effort, which I am so proud
of. If I could have, maybe I would have encouraged more girls to enter too, but I
guess I’ll be doing a lot of that this year to make up for it!

Australia is known for its beaches and bikinis and hopefully soon its Star In A Bra models, what is your opinion about the difference between bikinis and lingerie?

I think that one of the main differences is that women tend to compromise on the fit
of bikinis a lot more than on the fit of lingerie. I know that D+ women struggle to find
well-fitting bikinis, and often resort to ill-fitting halter tops in the biggest size they
can find. What’s paired with this inevitable discomfort is the precarious nature of a
big bust + water + lots of movement! But lucky for us, lots of fuller-cup brands (Curvy
Kate included!) – are bringing out swimwear lines, which are an absolute godsend!
It’s such a relief that we can find supportive togs which are both really comfortable
to wear and reduce the chance of the dreaded nip-slip!

Another difference is that when you’re in your togs, you tend to be seen by a lot
more people than those who see you in your lingerie – unless you end up being a
CK model that is! In that sense, if you think that modelling for Curvy Kate might be
something that you’d like to do, a photo shoot is not really that different to walking around the beach in your bikini!

Exactly!  Swimwear and lingerie both cover the same areas and are both pieces of material in my opinion so there isn’t really much of a difference.  You will be passing on the torch soon, is there any helpful advice you can give to this year’s entrants?

I know that taking photos and entering a competition like this can be incredibly
daunting! In light of this, I’ve got a couple of tips in order to tackle those nerves:

Take your entry photos in lingerie that you love and feel great in! Taking your
piccies in your favourite sets often makes you feel more comfortable and
confident – trust me, it comes across in your photos!
If you’re nervous, make a day of it with your friend – give each other makeovers,
gorgeous hairstyles and then finally take the photos once you’re all glammed up.

Also, If you’re lucky enough to make it through to a top 30 or top 5, strike a balance
with PR. No-one likes a spammer! Target people who you think will genuinely give
you support and will follow through with voting for you. Your direct Facebook friends
list is a great place to start. Also, extended family members and family friends
are great sources of support – it’s surprising how many of your aunties, uncles,
cousins, great-second-aunts-twice-removed are on Facebook and who would love
to get involved and support you. Finally, if you have a great lingerie store that you
shop at, ask if they wouldn’t mind displaying your poster/magazine article etc. The
people that enter that store are likely to be interested in the subject matter and the
competition, and more often than not they would love to support a fellow curvy girl!

Brilliant advice, take note ladies!  One of the perks of winning is that you get to be a judge for this year, what is it going to take to get your vote and what qualities are you looking for in the lady to fill your shoes? -

Yes Brood I am lucky enough to get to be one of the judges this year.  I’m so excited that I will get the chance to help narrow down the finalists this year! I think what’s going to make entrants’ stand out is if they look confident in themselves, have an infectiously happy smile (almost seems like a CK prerequisite!) and let their personality shine through their photos.

Fan questions from one of my Gold Members Hayley who is wanting to enter this year, she wants to know how did the people closest to you feel about you being in such a revealing competition?

I was very lucky in a sense that I didn’t really have any negative reactions from my family and close friends, which I know is sometimes a worry in the context of modelling in your undies! I didn’t tell my parents (or practically anyone for that fact!) that I had entered the competition… that is until I found out that I had made the top 30 and thought that mum and dad should probably know that there are pictures of me in my knickers on Facebook! Once I had told mum and dad about the competition and explained to them what the brand of Curvy Kate was all about, they were nothing but supportive. I think at first they were a bit surprised that I had actually entered a competition like this, but in the end they were just really proud of me, so happy that I had pushed myself out of my comfort zone and had the confidence in myself to enter.

My best friends were just crazy excited from the get-go, wanting to jump on the band-wagon and support me as much as they could. I think the fact that I was surrounded by such positive people really inspired me to give my absolute all, and put 100% effort into the competition.

She also asked how has the experience changed you mentally and how does the public view you now being associated with a lingerie brand?

I didn’t think it would, but the competition actually has changed me mentally. I have
only just turned 20, and throughout my teenage years I’ve never felt completely
confident in my body. I have always compared myself to friends, and felt somewhat
inadequate because I wasn’t what I thought was the perfect “size 8 with 10C boobs”.
Having entered a competition like this and having completely put myself out
there (in front of practically everyone I know!!) has just given me a new sense of
acceptance and contentment with my body. There are always going to be days
where I don’t feel as confident in my skinny jeans, or times where I’m tempted
to compare myself to other girls, but having this experience has just put it all in
perspective for me – why push yourself to be something you’re not? You’ve put
yourself out there in a way that many people could never fathom, and everyone got
behind you and supported you. I thought that the whole “a competition like this
can totally change you” was a myth, but I’ll tell you now that it certainly isn’t. It has
changed my mindset completely, and I cannot begin to thank Curvy Kate enough for
bringing this incredible opportunity to Australian girls!

Glad to hear it was a positive change for you.  Back to me, have bras taken over your life now since the comp? For me I now check out every woman I see to guess her bra size, check to see if she has quadraboob, if the band is riding up her back and other signs of a bad fitting bra, are you also like this now since winning?

I have turned into a crazy bra lady! Like… if I’m old and lonely, I’m not going to have
cats, I’ll just harbor a ridiculous amount of beautiful lingerie. But with regards to
bad bra fitting, now I see it wherever I go! I have encouraged so many friends to get
refitted, as well as my mum, my granny and some family friends! Not one of them
has looked back since finding their “true size”. Also, since winning the competition,
I did a little bit of work at the store I mentioned earlier, Arianne, during their pre-Christmas rush last year. Helping women find really well-fitting bras was so great,
and I honestly got a rush every time I was able to help a woman walk out of the
store, in her new bra, feeling so much more confident.

Haha crazy bra lady, I love it, I reckon you and I should start a “Crazy Bra Lady” club!  Thanks to the media wrongly informing people that D-cups are huge and not realising that a D-cup changes size depending on the back band, having a smaller body do you find it hard convincing people that you are an 8FF?

This issue really gets me going! It’s just because people don’t understand how bras
are graded and how cup sizing is comparative to band sizing… Which is kind of
understandable, because explaining bra size grading to someone who has no idea is
very confusing! I do have a lot of trouble when people ask me what bra size I wear
and I respond with “between an 8F an FF, depending on the brand / make”. As soon
as they hear the letter “F”, it’s almost as if their brains go into overdrive! Sometimes
I make the point that my 8F bra cup is the same volume as a 12DD or 14D, and that
often puts it in a bit of perspective.

I have to admit it gets me going as well, I hand a card to someone and they see that the bras go to a K-cup and they go “Wow a K-cup that must be huge” and I say well I am a K-cup and they look at me disappointed and say “You don’t look that big” while I’m standing there in a loose shirt, a tiny bit of my heart breaks so I feel your pain.  I make all my marketing and promotional items and constantly use the Curvy Kate photos for this, is it strange to see your face popping up all the time on websites, posters and promo cards or is it something that you eventually get used to?

It is a bit strange! Especially with the AW12 range coming out soon (the range that
I was part of shooting), I am starting to see images of myself on Facebook, in online
stores and at CK retailers. I’m hoping that I get used to it soon, because I double take
every time I see myself!

Well I will be using your photos a lot over the coming weeks so just a heads up :)  In your opinion what do you think the Curvy Kate brand represents?

Curvy Kate represents to the everyday D+ girl that they can look and feel a million
dollars by wearing beautiful, well-fitting bras. It goes without saying that Curvy Kate
represents being confident in who you are and celebrating your curves, but I think it
really goes beyond that. Their Star in a Bra searches really send home the message
that Curvy Kate is a brand that is genuinely challenging the boundaries of modern
society’s portrayal of “beauty”. So often we are presented with the same waifer-
thin image of what it means to be beautiful, and Curvy Kate challenges this modern
ideal, highlighting that true beauty resides in women of all shapes and sizes. Curvy
Kate’s Star in a Bra competition shows that D+ lingerie can look fabulous on such a
wide variety of figures, as modeled by the ‘everyday women’ found during the SIAB

Very well said, I’m sure the CK team would be proud of your answer there, in closing any final pieces of advice for any lady thinking of entering this year but are still on the fence about it?

If any women are thinking of entering, but are a little unsure, keep this in mind:
among many things, Curvy Kate celebrates the diversity among D+ and curvy
women and strives to show how fabulous all women can look in lingerie. There’s
no ‘ideal’ or ‘mould’ that the brand is trying to fit – just take a look at previous
SIAB competitions to see the incredible range of women of different sizes, ages,
ethnicities etc. If anything, just simply entering and sending in photos can be an
incredibly liberating experience; one that can make you feel so much more confident
and sure in your self. With such an encouraging competition being run by such a
positive company, what have you got to lose? Go for it! Don’t sit there saying “Oh
maybe next year”. Push yourself and jump in the deep end, because you never know
what may happen!

I agree, GO FOR IT!  Last question, out of all the styles and colours what is your favourite Curvy Kate bra and underwear and it doesn’t have to be a matching set?

I think I’d have to say the Emily and the Elegance. The Emily fits me so well, has such
pretty embroidery and comes in so many cute colours! Also, I have recently fallen in
love with the Elegance… it gives such a great boost, but what sold me on this style
was that it is RIDICULOUSLY COMFORTABLE! So soft on the skin and the power-mesh
back band is divine.

Thankyou so much Julia, absolutely loved you’re in-depth answers and I’m sure you have helped out a lot of women make the decision to enter, hopefully we will chat again soon!

Head on over to the Curvy Kate Australia Facebook page now for details on how to enter this years Star In A Bra competition or click here to enter right now

♥ Brood

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One Response to Broods interview with the Curvy Kate Australia Star In A Bra 2011 winner Julia McLean!

  1. Laura says:

    Great interview, thanks!

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