WORK – The perfect women’s t-shirt? Interview with Ivy t founder Sally McLaren

copyright Annie Oswald

HOW can an item of clothing so simple be so hard to find?! But it seems to be a universal problem for women; getting your hands on the perfect t-shirt. Amiright?!

Sally McLaren spent years looking for that elusive item – but despite searching high and low, it always evaded her. So instead of complaining, she decided to create it herself.

In December 2017, Sally launched ‘Ivy’, a women’s t-shirt retailer. The line is made up of ‘essential, everyday t-shirts that offer style,versatility and most importantly comfort, for those wanting quality clothing that suits their bodies and lifestyles’.

Whilst pregnant with her daughter Maggie, Sally got to work on the business, utilising her experience as a clothing buyer.

“As a clothing buyer and shopping addict, the perfect woman’s t-shirt has always eluded me,” she says. “It’s such a simple product and should be the foundation of everyone’s wardrobe, but no matter where in the world I travel to or the amount of shopping I do, I’ve still never found The One.  I decided that if I felt this way, then the chances are that other women did too.


copyright Annie Oswald
Pics by Annie Oswold
“After 13 years in the fashion industry working for well-known brands, and whilst pregnant with my daughter Maggie, I started creating my vision.
“After working on it alongside being a full time mum to Maggie, Ivy finally launched on the 1st December 2017, and we’ve had a fantastic reaction and some amazingly positive feedback.
“The launch came just four weeks ahead of the due date for my second baby, a boy, who arrived safely into the world on 8th January.
“Driving the brand forward whilst being a full time mum to two children under two is definitely going to keep me extremely busy, but I am thriving on the buzz I get from having my own business.”
So – how did Sally come up with the designs? 
“I knew I wanted to launch with a range of t-shirts that I believe to be the essential key shapes every woman should have in their wardrobe. Within this range, I wanted to offer a few different necklines to offer choice and I know how particular some women are about what suits them. I also carried out a small survey to friends and family to ask what aspects and features of a t-shirt were most important to them, and their responses also helped shape the range. 
“The designs themselves are simple, but I’ve really focused on the fit and little details that when combined give a fantastic and flattering look. 

The most important things for me are body and sleeve length, neck shape and finish, and the hem shape.

“There’s nothing more annoying than a sleeve and hem riding up when you wear a t, so I’ve made sure they’re all plenty long enough, and most of our designs have longer hems at the back to give flattering coverage where women want it. 

“I had to keep my launch range quite small due to start up costs but have plans to introduce more seasonal fashion shapes as well as jersey vests for high summer. I will also be introducing new colourways to the core range that will always be the backbone to the brand.”


And fabrics?
“The fabrics I have used suit each style and shape. 
I knew a cotton/modal blend would give the softest handle and gorgeous drape needed for our Bea Scoop Neck. 
“For the grey marls I loved the soft feel of the viscose polyester and I knew I wouldn’t get that from a cotton fabric.  They also wash and retain their shape really well which was another very important factor when creating the range. 

“I had a few great jersey garment suppliers who I’d worked with in the past that I contacted when I first started developing my range. After sampling and costing with them I decided to go ahead with one in Turkey who have a strong handwriting for the sort of product I wanted.”

copyright Annie Oswald


And any advice for women wanting to start their own business?
“My advice would be to never lose sight of your product and brand image. Have a clear marketing approach from the start and always refer back to this every step of the way to ensure you remain consistent in the product you are selling and how you connect with your customers.
“I’d also say you have to be really organised and flexible. If you’re starting up on your own you obviously have to manage every aspect of the business from developing the product to the accounts to the postage and packaging, so you really need to be able to jump about and work on all of these things at once. 
“My other piece of advice would be to have the confidence and faith that what you are doing will work and don’t doubt yourself, but also surround yourself with people who believe in you. Ivy would never have launched if it wasn’t for my husband believing in me and encouraging me the whole way.”

Visit or follow Sally on Instagram

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