In 2013, designer and seamstress Tilly Tomkins founded Nearer the Moon, an erotic lingerie brand that specialisies in bespoke, made-to-order lingerie for all body types. Having trained at the renowned De Montfort University on their Contour Course, alongside her business she has also run lingerie boutiques across London, designed costumes for west-end burlesque shows and Kickstarted a pop up shop on Brick Lane. She currently lives in East London with her entrepreneur husband Toby and their house rabbit, Nin.
What does your lockdown life look like at the moment?
Every morning I create a daily collage and a to-do list in my bullet journal to get me off to a focused and creative start. If I have a cute outfit on I take a photo and add it to my “lockdown loungerie” story on Instagram. Our house rabbit is loving having two people at home every day so he’s very needy and hops around my feet until I give him a handful of herbs. I work on Nearer The Moon orders until about 1pm when I break for lunch followed by a bike ride. In the afternoons I like to distract myself from the impending 5pm announcement with fun jobs like creating “how to make nipple covers” blogs and designing new products. I make fabric masks in the evenings and then unwind by cooking a meal.
What have you found the most challenging about the lockdown?
My husband and I are both running our businesses from home. Whilst I already had a home studio, he has had to set up a full colour grading suite in our living room which means a work life balance at the moment is non-existent. He has to work in darkness so I’ve perfected the art of making a cup of coffee by touch alone!
How has your work and business adapted to lockdown life?
As I ran my business from home anyway, day to day work life hasn’t changed hugely but the inability to buy fabrics in person has meant some really cheap fabrics masquerading as lovely ones on the internet have been delivered! Most of my orders have been from returning customers so far. I am lucky to have a really supportive customer base who have rallied together to continue shopping from the indie lingerie community to help keep us afloat. I’ve also finally had the time to finish my long over due next collection. It’s called Hysteria, after the pseudo-illness that came to prominence in the late nineteenth century. It’s a study of the control of women’s behaviour and medicalisation of a typically functioning, hormonally fluctuating female body.
What’s your go-to lockdown meal at the moment?
Ribollita – a Tuscan soup that uses up old bread, tins of beans and “on the edge” veg.
What have you been doing to relax during this time?
I’m currently half way through an Aladdin Sane cross stitch. Hackney Brewery’s home delivery service has been helping with relaxation too!
Have you read any interesting books or articles, or watched any great films or TV series you’d recommend?
I’m loving Mae Martin’s new series Feel Good for some modern rom-com distraction.
Have there been any silver linings for you during this period?
I’ve ended up talking to some of my friends lots more than I would if we were all getting on with normal life – I’ve been grateful for the daily check-ins from them. Oh and my nan discovering memes has been quite sweet.
Will you be making any changes to your life moving forward in a post-lockdown world?
I will definitely be doing and going to more things locally. The wonderful thing about your life being shrunk down to as far as you can bike in half an hour, is that you find out about all the stuff people are doing around you.
Any words of wisdom or support for anyone particularly struggling right now?
You don’t have to do anything right now except survive.
How have you stayed engaged with the East London community during this time?
I’m in the middle of planning a photoshoot for my next collection with a local 35mm photographer (who is also a customer) and her three housemates in lockdown. I will be biking my samples round and leaving them on the doorstep so they can get creative inside their flat.
Do you have any favourite East London businesses doing great things that you’d like to shout about?
Make Town have been making scrubs for Homerton Hospital after having to shut their craft workshop doors at the start of lockdown. Wild and Wooly have teamed up with Pages of Hackney and they are biking out books and yarn to the local area.
Please share any exciting projects you’ve been working on during this time that we can support?
A nurse friend asked if I was able to make her any fabric masks (not for medical purposes just for going out for exercise). I made her a couple from my fabric stash and orders started coming in from her family. In seven days I’ve used up all the fabrics I had and have more orders than Instagram messages could cope with so I’ve set up a little site and have had to order more fabrics in already. There’s an option when you buy a mask to add one to the “pay it forward” pot and once I have enough of these I will be distributing them in the local community. These are charged at cost just like the key worker masks that are also available. The pay it forward masks are £3 and can be bought directly from mythandritual.bigcartel.com. My next collection Hysteria will be available on the website soon and in the meantime my books are open for custom commissions of all sorts.
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