Updated: Feb 2, 2019
“I burnt my tits last night.” Sounds painful coming from anyone except Rosi Withers, the creator of coaster company Freyja, which celebrates the diversity of the female form by burning it into wood. Rosi releases a batch of coasters each month featuring nude women of all shapes, sizes and experiences. Rosi kindly spoke to us about the ethics behind Freyja, how she manages running a business and her passion for wonky tits.
Hi Rosi, first things first, where does the name Freyja come from?
I want Freyja to feel like a friend. When mulling over names for the business, I wanted the name to feel personal. I wanted people to feel safe, empowered, and heard. I’ve got a friend who encouraged me to put this wacky bopo business out into the world and her name is Freya, so I googled her name just to see what came up. I discovered that in Norse mythology, Freyja is a goddess associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility and gold. Some say the Goddess Freyja teaches women to love who they are and for others to love them for it. It had a perfect strength to it and I loved it instantly.
Can you explain what Freyja Nude is and how you got into this amazing craft?
So, Freyja is hugely about normalising body diversity. Once a month I aim to release a batch of wood slice coasters that have line drawings of the female form wood burned onto them. My husband works in 200 acres of woodland and wood is a material that I adore. Within a few of my social circles I heard about pyrography (wood burning), and instantly loved it. I am able to use sustainably sourced wood due to my husband's job, so the product can even be put back into the Earth when it is finished with, leaving very little negative impact on our planet too.
We love, love, love your Insta bio: "celebrating wonky tits, broken bits & hairy pits". You can dig a little deeper into what that means for you and the art you’re making?
It’s all about normalising body diversity for me. When I had my second baby, my boobs suddenly became very different sizes. I struggled at first. I struggled because I looked "uneven" - but who the f is perfectly symmetrical anyway? It takes real courage to admit our body differences to other women, but it can be incredibly healing too. The more I talk about my wonky mum boobs, the more women confirm that I’m not the only one! This body positive movement is opening up many more vulnerable, real conversations and I love it. Freyja is a celebration of our differences. It is about removing the idea that there is a "perfect body" that has to have neat and tidy pubes and silky smooth armpits. The body positivity movement is redefining the notion of "beautiful" and I totally bloody love it.
' Freyja is a celebration of our differences. It is about removing the idea that there is a "perfect body". '
Has there been any controversy or stumbling blocks because of the nudity in your work? I found, for example, that when I tried to follow your Insta it reported it as an inappropriate action at first.
Oooo did it? That’s interesting. I haven’t had a huge amount of controversy within social media so far and I’m yet to do any craft fairs. I’ve had a few family and friends look at me like I am a total weirdo when I explain what business adventure I have dived into though. Lots of people don’t get it, and that’s alright. The Equality Institute summed it up pretty well in a photo they posted on Instagram a few months ago: 'Nudity empowers some women, modesty empowers some women, different things empower different women, feminism is their right to choose.'
There seems to be a splinter group of Instagram that is moving away from airbrushed perfection and towards celebrating the diversity of faces, bodies and experiences out there. Can you talk a little bit about what social media means for you and your business?
The whole business is run off social media, so without it, I’d be a little lost. It isn’t your average craft fair product. The gorgeous thing about social media is that people can come together even when they live miles away from each other. I’ve learnt so much from discovering like-minded people on Instagram and I’ve found some incredible resources too. It would be so hard to find this information if I was still wading through a Google search, or running around my country village trying to find somebody who also is passionate about celebrating diversity through the female form.
In terms of celebrating diversity, I LOVE Instagram for this. There are some incredible honest, vulnerable Instagram accounts that allow us to share in our "human-ness". It isn’t always so easy to do this face to face, and social media opens up conversations that we may not yet have the courage to open up in real life.
' The body positivity movement is redefining the notion of "beautiful" and I totally bloody love it. '
As well as running your business, you are also homeschooling two children. Hats off to you! How do you find these elements of your life work together?
You know, I nearly didn’t start up a business because I was so frightened it would impact my children in a really negative way. After a talk with a close friend, I realised that it is a vital thing for them to witness and learn about. I want them to feel that starting a business is not a far away dream or an impossible goal, it is simply about throwing yourself out there with a great idea and a bit of hard work. It’s a great thing for them to witness.
I’m learning to be pretty tight on my boundaries and I’m aiming (note aiming, it’s a total work in progress) to be organised. I’ve got a loose two week plan where I can plan in home educating activities, as well as planning in time for the business. I’ve put boundaries on the product by releasing a batch a month, which leaves the product demand completely in my control. I cannot have more work than I can handle, because I am in control of when these coasters go up for sale. It’s these boundaries that have allowed home educating and running Freyja to work rather nicely together.
What does the future hold for Freyja?
The business is right at the baby stages at the moment; it’s still developing, and will continue to develop the more that it grows. Ultimately, I want Freyja to be about women supporting women. We’re all so beautifully different and I want us to embrace our differences, rather than compete or fall into the comparison trap. I love that my daughter is being raised in a household where she sees these coasters being made. She is learning that body diversity is normal, and it is totally and utterly okay to be different.
We’ll have to see where the future takes Freyja. I’ll always aim for the business to have as little impact on the planet as possible, to have recycled packaging and sustainably sourced wood - that’s a pinky promise.