Laces & Lace: Part 2
Above: Dirty Dolls Lingerie co-founder Erica Paul on the derby track. Photo by Sean Hale.
When my wife, Elizabeth, introduces me to new friends or coworkers she mischievously says, “This is my husband, Luis. He works in women’s underwear.” It never fails to draw a smile and tons of questions. Sometimes, when I introduce Elizabeth to new friends, I say, “This is my wife, Elizabeth. She skates Derby and wears panties on her head.”
I tend to quickly, and sheepishly, explain that in Roller Derby, certain players wear helmet covers, also known as helmet “Panties”, to designate a player’s role. If you remember from part 1 of Laces and Lace, the player who scores points during a bout is called a jammer. To clearly differentiate this player from the rest of the group, the jammer wears a helmet cover bearing two stars on each side of the helmet. Other players such as the pivots, wear a striped cover and the remaining team members’ helmets are left uncovered.
I love the fact that helmet covers are also known as panties. It’s another intimates and derby connection that inspired this series. Another connection that I’ve enjoyed learning about is the strong derby retail industry that supports the leagues and players with eBoutiques and brick-and-mortar stores providing gear and apparel. Players are able to stock up on skates, activewear, and of course, helmet panties at retailers such as Derby Diva, DerbySkinz and Etsy entrepreneurs like DerbyDee to name a few.
But enough background, let’s get to the star of Part Two of Laces and Lace: the co-founder of Dirty Dolls Lingerie — Erica Paul.
Q&A with Erica Paul, Dirty Dolls Lingerie
Name: Erica Paul
Company/Brand: Dirty Dolls Lingerie
Years involved in Intimates: 10+ years
Derby Name: Sweets McBacon
Position(s) Played: Jammer/Blocker
Team(s): Gotham Girls Roller Derby: Home team: Bronx Gridlock, Travel Team Grand Central Terminators
Years involved in Roller Derby: 2 seasons
Could you tell us a little bit about what you do in the Lingerie world and in Roller Derby?
I’m one of the co-founders of Dirty Dolls Lingerie. We’re based in New York and our mission is to create vintage-inspired lingerie for women who wear hard-to-find sizes. In the roller derby world, I’m a skater with the Gotham Girls Roller Derby. I’m a jammer and blocker on the Bronx Gridlock and the Grand Central Terminators.
What came first, Roller Derby or Intimates?
Intimates came first. I started my career in sportswear in 1998, then turned my focus to intimate apparel in 2002. I’m a huge fan of vintage-clothing and lingerie, so it made perfect sense for me to create a line of lingerie that was inspired by these passions.
Above: @hazelhoneynyc wearing Dirty Dolls Lingerie’s Femme Fatale Corselette & Sultry Cheeky Short.
My first experience watching roller derby was back in the 90’s. My mom took a friend and I to a roller derby bout in Pennsylvania, which featured professional skaters, local radio disc jockeys and celebrities! It was very exciting to watch, but it seemed more like a show than a sport. After moving to NYC I saw a flyer for a roller derby bout and thought it might be similar to the bout I saw in Pennsylvania, however, after attending I realized that it was a real sport. I was truly amazed by how talented these female athletes were! I did some research and saw that Gotham offered a rec league, so I signed up and that’s how I got started with roller derby.
How long have you been involved in Roller Derby?
Two seasons. I skated with the Long Island Roller Rebels for one season and now I’m with the Gotham Girls Roller Derby.
Above: Dirty Dolls Lingerie’s Pinstripe Pin-Up brassiere from their Vaudeville-inspired collection.
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?
I completely agree with your wife, roller derby does change your life! It’s extremely physically challenging and I’ve also met many wonderful people through it. After a long day of working it feels great to put my skates on and play!
What’s your Derby name? How did you come to decided on it?
Sweets McBacon, my husband actually helped me come up with it. We thought of a bunch—we tried plays on different celebrity names, but just kept gravitating back to it. Some fellow skaters and I also hung out one night to come up with names, and Sweets just seemed to suit me. It’s a name that shows two sides of my personality.
I know that balance is hard to find. How have you found balance in your life with your work and Roller Derby?
It is a lot, but when you really love something you learn to find a balance. With Dirty Dolls I’m lucky enough to have an amazing business partner. We both have a lot going on, but at the end of the day we take care of business and get things done. Derby takes up a lot of time as well, we practice a few times a week for 2-3 hours at a time. But it’s something that I love playing and being involved in, so I make the time for it. As I said before after a long stressful day it feels great to skate around and hit out some people.
Above: the Dirty Dolls Duo — Courtney Leigh Newman and Erica Paul.
How do your friends, family, spouse, loved ones feel about your work and Derby life? Do they support you? How? In what ways?
They’re all very proud of the business that Courtney and I have built. To be honest, we wouldn’t be where we are without all the love and support from our families. My family and friends have also been very supportive of me playing derby. It was funny the first time they saw me play how amazed they were to see all 5’2” of me hip check a girl twice my size.
Being in a Roller Derby Leagues is a lot of work and I know that many players where different hats (not unlike working with or owning your own lingerie brand). What dual roles to you play in Derby and Intimates?
Like most roller derby leagues Gotham is skater run, so we all have responsibilites and jobs within the league. I’m a part of the creative committee and work on designing programs, products and other creative projects.
Above: another look from Dirty Dolls Lingerie.
Courtney and I work very collaboratively on the overall look and product designs for Dirty Dolls Lingerie. But we do end up dividing a lot of the other work. I focus a lot of my time updating our website, and working on social media and PR.
What’s next for you in both worlds?
We’re currently working on our new Dirty Dolls collection, which will be launching in September! It’s very exciting—we’re planning to bring in some new sizes and styles.
As far as derby, I’m just going to continue skating and learning to be a better player! I also plan on making a trip to Spandex House and sewing some new derby booty shorts! Beep Beep Bronxies, choo choo Termies! Be sure to check out our upcoming bouts at http://www.gothamgirlsrollerderby.com/schedule/all
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.