Ukrainian artist Iryna Bondar came to the United States to pursue a degree in drawing and illustration at Herron School of Art and Design. Bondar created her own line of lingerie called 6CK Lingerie that she sells online through Etsy. The artist worked with her friend and photographer, Dana Kalachnik, to create a lookbook for the brand, and the two presented the book along with the lingerie line at General Public Collective on April 28, 2017.
Miller Kern: How did you get involved in art?
Iryna Bondar: I’m from Ukraine, and it’s my just second year in the United States. Since I was six or seven, I went to an art school. In rough times, my mom would make me go because she thought that I will benefit from them, and I did. That’s how it all started, and it’s just been my whole life. I’m not really interested in anything except art at this point.
MK: Why were you particularly interested in lingerie?
IB: I just started last August. It’s probably strange—and it’s still strange for me—I started because lingerie is really easy to make. I had a sewing machine and I thought, ‘Well why not try?’ And I started from the simplest things like bralettes, you know the triangle bralettes. The first ones were funky, but I was so excited.
I just went for it. Sewing machines are pretty easy and straightforward. I spent two nights looking around and figuring out what’s going on with this strange thing. So, I started sewing. I tried different materials. I figured out what’s best for me, what things I’m not ready for. And it turned out, two months after I started, my friend asked me if I want to make a whole collection happen.
And I was not really even that good at sewing at that point. But, she asked if I wanted to [start a collection]. And we started, bought all the materials and started working. It took me three months to sew it all because the designs we came up with were particularly hard for me at that moment.
MK: How did you come up with the name for your brand, 6CK Lingerie?
IB: Yes, I’m so glad you said it right! It’s ‘sick.’ It’s a really long story. I had my first Instagram account four years ago. At that moment, I was not excited about people knowing that I have an Instagram account because I was a rebel kid. I came up with this, it was two words from the lyrics of the song ‘Sick Muse’ from Metric. I just changed the ‘si’ into the ‘6’ because to me it sounded perfectly fine, but nobody can read it.
My personal account is always closed, and I had to separate my art because at some point I wanted people to see what I was doing, drawing, painting. And I created another account for my art that starts from 6ck as well. But then I had the 6CK Lingerie and I was not sure about it because I felt like people would be kind of weirded out by it, but then I thought that 6ck kind of shows what I am about. And I’m not trying to make my lingerie be mainstream.
MK: How would you define your designs?
IB: It’s always spontaneous because I never know what’s going to interest me. I can be using lace for two months, and then I will switch to velvet. Then I’ll get sick of velvet. Recently, I was really interested in buying thrifted clothes and recreating them into something different. I know there’s a pretty large movement about recycling, and I’m really into that. I prefer most of the clothes I bought in a thrift store. Just having the opportunity to change them the way I want is really great. It’s always different and always spontaneous for me.
MK: Do you ever plan to have a physical store like a boutique? Or do you want to stick to Etsy?
IB: I don’t think I would want to deal with an actual store. I would want to have a website and go away from the Etsy because not a lot of people have an account. There’s not that much [inventory] going through Etsy anyway. I might be taking my
products out to different other stores and just have them sell it for commission. But I don’t want to deal with managing a store. I don’t think my life deserves that. I’m an artist.
MK: What’s one of your most rewarding moments or memories with your lingerie?
IB: Our show that we recently had. Seeing people touching the rack and having some sort of reaction was so precious and scary at the same time.
MK: Do you do any branding?
IB: I mostly do it through Instagram because that’s the easiest way right now. Everybody’s all about pictures and scrolling really fast. I use promoted listings and I advertise my merchandise for money to feel out the statistics for the future. But other than that, I try not to be too much in people’s eyes because I like when people have a choice, if they want to click on it or if they want to follow me.
MK: Do you plan to stay in Indiana, or in the U.S.?
IB: I definitely have to go back home after I graduate. That’s part of my requirement. But I still want to collaborate with people I know, find opportunities, and maybe find a job here afterward. I’m definitely planning to put this lingerie thing into a business, whether it’s going to be back in Ukraine, or at some point in my life in the United States. But I can’t really project. Things change a lot.