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By Hannah Connolly
eeling supported presents itself differently for all of us. It could be a phone call with your mum, a knowing glance from your partner, or a simple but well-needed hug from a friend. Your support system could be inanimate, it could be your bed, a long hot bath, even a solo walk – no matter your interpretation, ultimately, we all need to feel supported.
It was exactly with this in mind, that foundationwear label Heist, took on their latest game-changing concept – meet the ‘Contour Bra’. Centred on the idea of support, this innovative piece is imbued with the understanding of what it means to feel supported in the mind and body.
Launching a campaign celebrating the beauty of support systems, here The Stack chats to the women featured in the Heist x Stack panel about what support means to them…
"It starts with an intention and then you have to turn that into action." - Natasja Giezen-Smith
Natasja Giezen-Smith is the CEO of Heist. ‘Support’, the theme of the foundationwear label's latest campaign is also an intergeral thread running throughout the DNA of the company and a key aspect of Natasja’s approach to management.
"In the business (Heist), we support each other on a day-to-day basis. We try to look out for one another and for our customers. When Paula our VP of Marketing came to us and said we want to build a campaign around support I thought that was so brilliant. That is such a natural flow of our design intentions, to the way we are as a business, and I am super proud of it.
So it started with the design intent – with every product we solve problems, women have in the real world. When designing it was: how do we support the breasts, the body, but from that flowed the marketing campaign asking the question how do you support one another?
I think it takes a lot of consciousness (to make support integral). It starts with an intention and then you have to turn that into action. Over the last 18 months, with the help of the team to put into play, I have been trying to make decisions on a day to day basis that helps our customer, what actual problem it solves and what is the best possible way to do it.
Long term goals include: continuing to see the team thrive at Heist, keep building a company where people feel they can do their best work and creating more products that make our customers' lives a bit better."
“For me, Support is active, only a verb never passive." - Felicia Pennant
Felicia Pennant is a writer and an editor, currently working as the Features Editor at MATCHESFASHION. Pennant has penned articles featured in Dazed, British Vogue, The Telegraph and Time Out. As well as being the Founder of SEASON zine, the trailblazing football and fashion platform that challenges modern football culture.
“For me, Support is active, only a verb never passive. It's assisting people, lifting them up, bearing the weight, and sharing the load if they let you. It's showing up, being there without being there with no judgement. Being a perpetual cheerleader and champion through the highs and lows of life.
I have different ones (support systems) – my mum is the centre of my universe, with my sisters and dad not far behind. Then I have my incredible friends, my incredible SEASON core team... It's a two-way system too as these are the people I support first before anyone else unconditionally and with love. Whatever they need, I'll do my best to make it happen. I love to nurture, empower and help the people around me fulfill their goals and meet their potential!
As I get older, I'm getting to know myself better and how I support myself is evolving. It's trying not to take myself too seriously and finding reasons to laugh and smile regularly. It's recognising what I'm in control of and letting the rest go.
Surrounding myself with positive supportive people and trying to find my optimal work/life balance without feeling guilty. Going to the gym and trying to expand my mind as much as possible by reading, immersing myself in culture, doing courses to improve my skills."
"Everyone I love provides me with something different, and I hope in return my relationships with each of them are also all unique and supportive." - Laxmi Hussain
Laxmi Hussain is an artist whose work exists in the liminal space between the abstract and the realistic. A life-long artist, Hussain transported this talent into a profession after the birth of her first child, re-inspired by the joy and creativity children harness. Hussain used art as a means to reclaim her own identity amongst the emotional blurrings that come with motherhood.
"Support means so many things, firstly how do you support yourself? Are you honest about the things you need to be your best self? For me, this is balance, enough time for work, family and friends and for myself, whether this is through exercise, wellness etc.
A lot of this comes with communication, those closest to me are my biggest support, helping with childcare, listening to me, laughing with me, but also support needs to be reciprocated and it's important we are also supportive individually to those we love and enjoy being with. Again, balance, if we are all uplifting one another, we are all able to thrive and do/create/see our best things.
My husband, my children, my siblings and my friends, make up my support system. I feel you can't ask one person to be everything, that's too much. Everyone I love provides me with something different, and I hope in return my relationships with each of them are also all unique and supportive.
I have learnt a lot about the support a parent receives from their children, as parents it is just assumed that we are the only support system for our children, especially if they are young, but they have gotten me through some incredibly difficult periods of my life. I relied on their joy, the way they see the world and their ability to take in difficult situations, but also be able to navigate through these in soft, joyful moments and take you along with them.
Marriage is also a huge supportive juggle, sometimes the pendulum swings closer to one than to the other, but open communication really is key. I've learnt that my partner is really the family I chose, he has supported me through motherhood in the most honest and open way, making me accept that my body will inevitably change and helping me to let go of the ideas that have been imposed on us - that our bodies must 'bounce back’, be ready for sex almost immediately - we're taught our bodies need to keep giving and supporting everything around us as we bring children into this world and he taught me that mothers need so much support in return, and he has been that for me.
I support myself with time. I'm a busy mum of 3, I'm an emerging artist working away on establishing myself and I'm a carer to my elderly dad. So many of us juggle many responsibilities and they can often overwhelm us because we aren't able to catch our breath. Time to myself could be walking to my studio instead of driving (or walking anywhere, I love to walk), having a night off from parenting and going to dinner with a friend, exercising, treating myself to something I really want. Oftentimes it is really simple and can just be a moment to paint, although I do every day, I do truly love painting and when it becomes your job, you don't always get the opportunity to do it for yourself, but I try to make time to do this more often."
"Support is, in essence, feeling like you’re not alone, however solitary the path you’re on may sometimes feel." - Emma Louise Boynton
Emma-Louise Boynton is a journalist, presenter, boradcaster and the co-founder of Her-Hustel and Sex Talks. With a career in news and current affairs, Boynton is commited to changing the conversation women have around sex and their bodies.
"Support to me is feeling like no matter what’s going on in your life there is someone to whom you can turn - to celebrate the wins, to mourn the losses and to reflect on all the learnings that have happened in between. It means being able to pick up the phone when your heart has just been broken and have someone at the end of the line telling you it’s going to be ok, you’re going to be ok. It’s having someone who at the end of that big event, that important job interview, that scary first day doing something new, who is there to cheer you on and remind you that however hard what you’re doing right now might seem, you’ve got this. Support is, in essence, feeling like you’re not alone, however solitary the path you’re on may sometimes feel.
My best friend Elspeth is my Platonian other half and has shown me that female friendships really are the greatest romances of our lives. As Esther Perel notes, laughter is the most important component of love and I feel very lucky that together, the laughter never stops. But I also feel it is important to recognise that no one person can or should give you everything, so having an army of women around me to whom I can turn for different things and who in turn look to me for varying needs is critical. Women grow up being taught that a man will one day come and save you, that Prince Charming will whisk you off your feet and save you from your worldly woes. I just wish I had known that my soul mate(s) would actually show up in the form of great female friends. The true heroes in story of life.
Reaching my late twenties I’ve realised how poorly I’ve tended to look after myself over the years. Growing up, I had quite a bad eating disorder which entrenched in me a very punitive attitude toward myself, obviously starting with my body. I ate (less) to lose weight, exercised excessively to punish my body and forced myself to spend as much time working as possible for fear of ‘not being enough’ and ‘not achieving enough’. As I approach the next decade of my life I’m actively seeking to rewire this way of thinking, which has meant really digging into this very question - what does it mean to support myself?"
"Support feels like the voice of positivity when you are unable to find that voice within yourself. " - Jada Sezer
Jada Sezer is a pioneering fashion figure as well as holding a BA in psychology, MA in Child Psychotherapy and Diplomas in Neuroplasticity and Crypto, as well as acting as an ambassador for UN Women UK. After leaving the modelling industry Jada has focused on the idea of support full time. Committed to furthering the economic empowerment of women, acting as an angel investor for female-founded startups.
"I would say that support means somebody being able to hold you up when you can't hold yourself up. We all need that support from time to time. We have voices in our heads that creep in such as self-doubt, imposter syndrome, hormones or when you are feeling sad and vulnerable – we all feel this range of emotions and support just feels like the voice of positivity when you are unable to find that voice within yourself. I would also say support can be during positive times also, not only for when you are in a negative space. This could be someone who is a big cheerleader, someone who is reinforcing your brilliant qualities when you might not remember them within yourself.
My fiance is the biggest part of my support system right now and I would say my best friend also. I have known my friends since I was 16 and we are so tight, and they feel like family to me so that makes a support system that is rock solid and very much intertwined into my life - you know they aren't going anywhere and neither are you.
My big thing about supporting myself is protecting my energy and really recognising the areas of my life that I went want to take control back of. I am very reflective and do a lot of journaling. That allows me to highlight things that I am not sure about, insecurities or behaviours I want to change and then think about where those behaviour patterns were forged and make a change somehow, redirect that energy elsewhere. That is how I support myself. Sometimes in life when you are not being very supportive of yourself it is because you are on autopilot and not really thinking about how you could do things differently.
I think being introspective allows me to figure out what support I need. So, I am always looking at the resources I need at any given time and crafting out time to do that. It is about unscheduled time as well, it feels counterproductive, but it is super efficient to do nothing sometimes – that's another way I support myself.
Alongside the basics of doing yoga, going to the gym and going for walks – like I have a whole list and I call it the ‘Happy List’ and these are things that I can do that are really supportive of myself – but my biggest take away this last year is yes we know what to do, but how do you find the motivation to do it? For me, it’s the why, why do I need to do this right now? What role does this resource play in my life? Discovering what the benefit is and really understanding that. I live a very mindful life, I like to know the why and I like to know what role something plays in my life – support for myself is being very conscious and very intentional."
With the theme of ‘support’ in mind, Heist’s latest addition to their foundationwear family is the ‘Contour Bra’. Celebrating support in a campaign shot by Britt Lloyd. The cast of individuals bringing forth dynamic relationships that underpin their personal and professional lives and are inclusive of podcast co-hosts: Emma-Louise Boynton and Elspeth Merry; model-of-the-moment and music artist Chi Virgo and her mother Kess; and creative consultant Rae Elliman and her younger sister Mabli. Discover foundationwear that supports you mind and body with Heist.
“Are you honest about the things you need?” - From taking time for yourself to meaningful reciprocation, discover the ways these trailblazing women's priorities support in their lives.
By Hannah Connolly
The ‘Pure O’ or ‘purely obsessional’ type of OCD is characterised by distressing, intrusive thoughts and mental rituals to cope with them. Rae Elliman shares her experience of living with – and learning to manage – these hidden compulsions