Laces and Lace: Part 1
Above: Retailer Beth Hempton of Kuhmillion Lingerie on the Roller Derby track. Photo by Jennifer M. Ramos.
By day, my wife, Elizabeth Kates, has a normal corporate job. But on some nights she straps on a pair of skates, protective sports gear and transforms into a different person — Molly Throttle.
Molly is her Roller Derby persona and she skates for Suburbia Roller Derby here in Westchester, New York. For over a year, Elizabeth, er, Molly has played as Jammer for her teams: the Backyard Bullies and Country Clubbers. When she started, I had no idea that I would meet so many people from the lingerie industry playing and working in Roller Derby.
Above: Beth Hempton of Kuhmillion Lingerie at a recent Pop Up Shop.
For those of you who don’t know, Roller Derby is an incredible contact sport that’s played by leagues around the world.
Game play consists of a series of “Jams” — two minute intervals of gameplay — played by two teams of five skaters on a track. Both teams have a scoring player called the “jammer” who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. Both teams attempt to assist their own jammer while hindering the opposing jammer. There’s a lot more to the game and I encourage all of TLJ’s readers to find out if there’s a Derby league near them and attend a few matches to learn more.
One of the things that struck me about Roller Derby was the amazing and supportive community that grows around each league. It reminded me a lot of our own lingerie community. And I realized that both worlds had a lot in common including more than a few familiar faces. So I wanted to share the stories of three talented individuals: Beth Hempton, Erica Paul and Kristina DeJesus.
In part one of Laces and Lace, we spotlight lingerie retailer, Beth Hempton of Kuhmillion Lingerie. We hope our readers enjoy this Q&A with Beth:
Q&A with Beth Hempton, Kuhmillion Lingerie
Name: Beth Hempton
Company/Brand: Kuhmillion Lingerie
Title: Online Boutique Owner
Years involved in Intimates: 4
I’m the co-owner (along with my husband, Patrick) of Kuhmillion Lingerie, an online retro & burlesque lingerie boutique, which involves wearing many hats. I handle all of the buying, graphic design, marketing, PR, customer service, order fulfillment, and almost everything else that comes up! My background is in art, graphic design, retail, and education, which all blend together quite well in my current work.
Could you tell us a little bit about what you do in our industry and in Roller Derby?
In the lingerie industry, I spend my days looking for ways to excite Kuhmillion’s current customers, while also seeking to attract new ones. This involves picking out new merchandise that I think our shoppers will like, then creating the product listings to showcase the items on our site; writing blog posts; sharing & interacting with fans on social media; providing the best customer service I possibly can; packing up & shipping orders; and all of the other administrative tasks that go along with running an online store. Additionally, I maintain an events calendar featuring burlesque shows in Austin, and try to attend them as often as possible, even sometimes setting up mini-boutiques at the shows. Involvement in our local burlesque community has been a really fun and rewarding part of creating Kuhmillion Lingerie.
In roller derby, I’m a skater and a trainer for Rockin’ City Rollergirls (RCRG), a new league in Round Rock, TX that is currently applying for a Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Apprenticeship. Being a charter member of a new league, which is not quite a year old yet, has been super exciting and fun! I love bringing new people into the sport! Helping to train our team keeps me motivated to be the best skater I can be, continually trying to improve my own game. In addition to RCRG, I also play on a non-league-affiliated scrimmage team called Team Free Radicals, created to give its members more opportunities to train and scrimmage with an emphasis on learning and self-improvement (rather than rankings). The many challenges of playing derby and the opportunities for continual skill development are really the most exciting thing about this sport for me! I mean, of course playing in a bout is fun, but every practice is just as much fun!
What came first, Roller Derby or Intimates?
Intimates came first. I’m relatively new on the derby scene! Kuhmillion Lingerie opened its virtual doors in 2009, and about two years later I started playing derby with the Texas Rollergirls (TXRG) Recreational League.
How long have you been involved in Roller Derby?
I’ve been involved with derby for about two-and-a-half years. I joined the TXRG Recreational League in February 2011, which is how I came to choose the number 211. At first I thought I didn’t even want to play the game, and joined because I just wanted to learn to skate better – ha!
My wife says that joining Derby has changed her life for the better. She notes that her health has improved and she has benefited from the larger social network Derby creates. How has Roller Derby affected your life?
The main change would be in my overall fitness level. I was never much of an athlete, but now I consider myself one. Before derby, I was always on-again, off-again, dabbling in this or that when it came to working out. Now I skate and/or work out almost every day, and pay a lot more attention to my nutrition because I want to be the best player I can be. I am stronger and more fit than I’ve ever been, thanks to derby! Along with the health benefits, the many new friends I’ve made through derby have been a wonderful addition to my life.
What’s your Derby name? How did you come to decide on it?
My derby name is Beth Wish, a play on the phrase “death wish.” I like this name because I find it comically vague. Who has the death wish? My opponents for crossing my path, or me, for playing this crazy sport?! Ha! But also, it sounds pretty hardcore and tough, so it works well for derby, even though it’s vague.
I know that balance is hard to find. How have you found balance in your life with your work and Roller Derby?
It’s true; balance can be very hard to find. Basically, I just have to prioritize. So that means less important things just slide further and further down the list. For instance, I hardly ever watch TV; my house is usually a wreck (or at least not as clean as I’d like it to be); and I end up skipping a lot of the social events I’m invited to. But giving those things up means I can still do tons of derby stuff while also carving out plenty of time to just relax. I’m not a go-go-go kinda person; I’m very mellow and ferociously guard my downtime.
How do your friends, family, spouse, loved ones feel about your work and Derby life? Do they support you?
I am fortunate to have many supportive loved ones who think derby is awesome and can see the positive effects it has had on my life, and also support my being an entrepreneur. My husband, Patrick, a.k.a. Destruction, is a huge derby fan, and also a skater, an NSO, and a ref-in-training, so we spend a lot of time together doing derby-related stuff. My mom is my second biggest fan, second only to Patrick, and she attends my games whenever she can. Most of my friends these days tend to be from the realm of derby, which attracts the most creative and open-minded folks, so I have no shortage of support in both my derby life and my non-traditional work life.
What’s next for you in both worlds?
In the world of intimates, I hope to keep building the Kuhmillion brand, expanding our product offerings and reaching out to more and more retro lingerie fans. I’m really happy with the way things are going with operating an online boutique, while also setting up the occasional pop-up shop at an event, so I have no plans for a brick & mortar shop just yet, though that’s always a possibility down the road.
In the world of roller derby, I just hope to keep having fun while learning more about the game, upping my skill level, increasing my athleticism, and meeting tons more amazing people who love this sport as much as I do!
Laces & Lace: parts 1 – 3
Laces & Lace Part 1: Beth Hempton, Kuhmillion Lingerie
In part one of Laces and Lace, we spotlight lingerie retailer, Beth Hempton of Kuhmillion Lingerie. Beth is the co-owner (along with her husband, Patrick) of Kuhmillion Lingerie, an online retro & burlesque lingerie boutique. Full story HERE.
Laces & Lace Part 2: Erica Paul, Dirty Dolls Lingerie
Part Two of Laces and Lace, we spotlight the co-founder of Dirty Dolls Lingerie — Erica Paul. Co-founder of Dirty Dolls Lingerie, Erica’s brand is based in New York and the Dirty Dolls mission is to create vintage-inspired lingerie for women who wear hard-to-find sizes. Full story HERE.
Laces & Lace Part 3: Kristina DeJesus, La La Femme Fatale & The Lingerie Addict
For our final installment, we put the spotlight on New York City native, Kristina DeJesus. Kristina is a talented intimate apparel designer with over 13 years of experience in the industry. She’s also an equally talented writer showcasing her love and appreciation of intimate apparel to the Lingerie Addict’s readership around the world. Full story HERE.