PROJECT #BEYOUROWN WOMAN: SABRINA CASSIS
Alice Kass is a multi-brand retailer offering a curated selection of cutting-edge lingerie comfortable enough for every day but cool enough to take you into the night. Undergarments for the modern woman: confident, authentic and a little rebellious. Alice Kass is not simply a curated online retailer but also a cornerstone of modern style, representing an updated vision of femininity. A lifestyle brand centered around female empowerment.
My name is Sabrina Cassis and I’m the founder of Alice Kass, a Montreal based online platform featuring curated designer lingerie made by women for women. I started Alice Kass because I wanted to provide the modern, independent woman with stylish yet comfortable lingerie that makes her feel confident, sexy and empowered inspiring her to connect to her femininity and sensuality every single day.
But I have a confession to make: I was never into lingerie. I literally bought my first thong at the age of 24 after a well-meaning friend teased me about the underwear lines caused by my American Apparel boy shorts. I was a nerdy tomboy growing up and incredibly shy -and by incredibly shy I mean I had crippling social anxiety to the point where I couldn’t answer phone calls or go to restaurants alone even if I was on the verge of passing out from hunger. I was uncomfortable with my sexuality and literally afraid of humans (especially men), my emotions and my body. I found comfort in dressing boyishly; leather jackets, combat boots, oversized clothes. I believed that I needed to be strong at all times and wear armour. The thought of exuding sex and femininity made me feel weak, powerless, embarrassed. As though I couldn’t be taken seriously if I exposed my emotions and my female body. I bought into the myth of toxic masculinity, believing that I had to behave more like a “man” if I wanted to be taken seriously and succeed in a man’s world, especially the male-dominated business world.
What I didn’t realize was that there is power in being fully authentic and embracing both the feminine and the masculine. Alice Kass has been a ground-breaking personal experience because it freed me from my fear of embracing the feminine and has helped heal my wounds around my sexuality and sense of self-worth. People often assume that I’ve always been obsessed with lingerie. Truth is, I was always intimidated by this world that seemed so out of my reach. I didn’t identify with the Victoria’s Secret Angels, I was none of those playful, polished and flawless women presented in mainstream lingerie advertisements with their push up bras and over the top getups. So much artifice and so much effort into looking a certain way with the ultimate goal of pleasing a man. I couldn’t relate and something deep inside me was angry, resisting this idea of having to use our sexuality and bodies to appeal to men’s concept of what a desirable woman should look like.
But through Instagram, I stumbled upon a world of women creating and wearing lingerie that appealed to them. It didn’t look like a costume, it wasn’t just for men. It pleased them first and foremost, reflected their tastes and fantasies and showed variety. These female run lingerie companies placed style, personal pleasure, and comfort above just being outwardly attractive to a man. When I slipped into this type of lingerie, I looked in the mirror and I recognized myself, yet I couldn’t believe that this was me! For the first time, I felt feminine, sexy, comfortable. Something lit up inside me, I finally understood the magic of lingerie and that I didn’t need to feel like I was wearing a costume. Needless to say, this was game-changing and I was excited for other women to experience this too. I wanted women to feel good about how they looked, comfortable in their skin, proud of their bodies and most importantly, feel like themselves.
Discovering lingerie was a transformative experience for me. It allowed me to get in touch with my body and get comfortable with parts of myself I had felt shame around for so long. The delicate intricate lace, the subtle sheerness of the mesh, the strategically placed straps all create an erotic and sensual charge reminding us of our beauty and femininity. Lingerie instantly boosts your confidence; just the knowledge of wearing it even if no one else sees it. The second you put it on you see yourself differently, it is one of the most powerful reminders of our womanhood. I can still remember my first time. I felt empowered and lit up by my beauty and femininity. I felt more confident and self-assured. I saw myself differently, I saw myself as a woman.
Through my business and the community that formed around it, the shame I had around my sexuality and femininity was slowly dissipating. I was inspired to explore the concept of self-love and I began to understand that I had been depriving myself of pleasure and joy by putting up walls and a facade, to please others or to avoid getting attention.
So that was the beginning. Through lingerie, developing self-care routines and changing the way I spoke to and viewed myself I was able to reclaim ownership over my image, my body, my sexuality. I learned how to connect to my body by looking at it, touching it, celebrating all that it allows me to do and feel. Romancing myself and creating an intimate relationship of love and appreciation. Stepping outside my comfort zone and taking up space, being unapologetically myself and releasing fears of not being perfect. I quickly learned that the more I put myself out there, the more I got back. Vulnerability creates shifts and allows for unblocking. Sharing selfies and my journey via Instagram has allowed me to take up space and use my voice. By sharing my stories through my Sunday night Bed Talks on Instagram and on my blog, The Self-Love Project, I stand in my power and can inspire other women to do the same. The more you surround yourself, both physically and psychically, with people that live the way you want to live, the more your subconscious mind believes it’s possible for you to do the same. I’ve been inspired by so many women forging their own path along the way and have grown from connecting and sharing with these inspiring goddesses. By being open and vulnerable I’ve attracted and created bonds with women that I can learn from and teach simultaneously. The beauty of sisterhood, of giving and receiving.
It took me a long time to learn all this. It took Alice Kass and all the amazing women I’ve met along the way, from my clients to collaborators to supporters and friends. Even the men that encouraged and admired this newfound strength and confidence I inspired in myself and other women. Through lingerie and exploring my feminine side, I learned women can be both masculine and feminine, vulnerable and tough, sensual and smart. We can indulge in our appearance and simultaneously kick ass at our jobs. None of these things prevent the other, they are not mutually exclusive. Women are multifaceted and these dualities are actually our secret weapons and allow us to experience life more wholly. We shouldn’t feel as though we need to deny a part of ourselves. And that’s exactly what being my own woman means to me. Being unapologetically and authentically you, embracing our femininity and allowing ourselves to be fully expressed, as women and as human beings, and finding pleasure, passion, and purpose every day.