Emily Labowe is a model, actress, and creator of the line Poppy Undies. Her quirky and eclectic style is evident in her beautiful home, filled with natural materials, warm tones, and vintage finds. Here, we discuss running a small business, the importance of community, and collaborating with friends.Hello! First off, tell us a little about yourself and what you’ve been up to lately.
Hi! I have currently been spending most of my time working on my line, Poppy Undies. I just released a new style and some new embroideries that I am very excited about. Running a business has been such a learning experience, so I have been spending a lot of time drawing, embroidering, organizing, and listening to podcasts to educate myself! I grew up in Los Angeles, and studied sociocultural anthropology at Pitzer College. I started modeling a few years ago and started my line officially a couple months ago. Lately, I’ve been cooking a lot and experimenting with new recipes! I made an amazing vegan Japanese curry the other night, which I am proud of because it’s truly a toss up sometimes with my skills in the kitchen!
“One thing I have learned is to try and enjoy the present moment, since life is consistently unpredictable.”
I am big on routines and rituals. In the morning, I usually make myself an espresso with steamed oat milk, and sit outside on my porch going through emails and enjoying the outdoors. I love starting the day outside.What has your pandemic experience been like? Any new insights or perspective shifts?
The pandemic has caused a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences, as it has for everyone I think. One thing I have learned is to try and enjoy the present moment, since life is consistently unpredictable. I am also learning how important it is to have a routine for me that includes doing things that make me happy everyday- if it’s a call with a friend, drawing, gardening, watching a tv show that is comforting. I have also come to appreciate and have such gratitude for the loved ones in my life. It has been so helpful and important to check in with my close friends and family in my pod. They have really helped me feel grounded through such a tumultuous time. Isolation and lack of socializing can cause a lot of anxiety and sadness, so staying in contact (sometimes by just sending a funny meme!) has really helped me feel grateful and happy.
You created/design/run the line Poppy Undies, tell us a little bit about it and how it came to be. Did you always want to start your own line / business?
I officially launched Poppy in December. Prior to the official launch, I was embroidering underwear by hand for friends, commissions on Instagram, and shoots etc. My mom taught me how to embroider on a Matzah cover a few years ago, and I fell in love with the craft. Once the pandemic hit, I felt motivated to start producing and designing my own underwear- the time and space gave me the opportunity to put my creative attention towards creating and thoughtfully designing embroidered pieces.You also publish the quarterly paper, Poppy Paper. What has been your favorite part of creating this? Where do you go for inspiration when starting each issue?
The idea behind Poppy is an interdisciplinary project based line that promotes self-love, confidence, and community- collaborating with like-minded artists to create thoughtful pieces. I decided to print the newspaper with the launch as a statement of the now and our current craving for connection and community. I asked a bunch of my creative friends to contribute drawings, poetry, written pieces, music (via a QR code in the paper), and a recipe. I think the whole ethos of Poppy is one of community, connection, and home-yness, which really aligns with the times. Self-healing comes through community and community healing--so the process of making the paper was just as rewarding and connective for me, as I hope the paper is itself. My goal is to incorporate elements of “the now” into what Poppy creates--these feelings and moments will change over time, and so will the pieces.In addition to Poppy Undies and Poppy Paper, you are also a successful model. How did you get started, was modeling something you were always interested in?
I had always wanted to model when I was younger. When I finished school, I started modeling officially and got an agent. I am so lucky and grateful for my agents at Vision- they are so supportive and personable, it's truly a wonderful family.
“Running a business has been such a learning experience, so I have been spending a lot of time drawing, embroidering, organizing, and listening to podcasts to educate myself!”How do you balance modeling/Poppy Undies/Poppy Paper? What do you do to stay grounded amidst all of these projects?
Since the pandemic, I haven’t been modeling as consistently, so this has provided me with the time to really focus on Poppy. I do have shoots sparsed out through the weeks, and my main way of balancing is to ensure some sort of routine everyday and keep a to-do list, which I write out constantly to make sure I get everything done! Some days are absolutely insane, and it is just learning how to keep a balance, and not be in work-mode all the time.
Can you tell us a little bit about your home? What’s your approach to decorating?
I live in a small 1920’s Schindler studio on the east side. It’s like a little wooden cabin in the hills- the interior is my dream - lots of wood and a very Japanese aesthetic. I try to keep things as minimal as possible, though it is difficult in such a small space with not much room for storage! My bed is in the center of my room surrounded by a bookcase. It is my favorite part of my house! I love linen and earth tones- the whole house has a very warm cozy feeling.What are you reading / watching / listening to these days?
Listening to Brene Brown’s podcast Dare To Lead. Reading The Houseguest by Amparo Davila.
Fill in the blanks:The coolest place I’ve ever woken up in is:
KyotoThe best cup of coffee/tea is at:
Maru Coffee cold brew with oat milkA thing about mornings I’ll never get sick of is:
The silence, the breeze, and the view of the hills while sitting outside having coffee on my porch.
Photos by: Ye Rin