Building a fashion brand is hard and most people who undertake their own label can tell you they had no idea what they were getting into when they begun. To make it slightly easier we like to spread the wisdom. So here's our interview with the founder of Poplinen at a look behind navigating the supply chain and creating a brand that is based on ethical and sustainable practices as well as body inclusivity.
1 | What made you start this brand?
I started Poplinen to reimagine the way women shop for clothing. For a long time women have shopped in this segregated way depending on their body size. Poplinen’s purpose is to celebrate women in all our beautiful shapes and sizes by offering premium, everyday essentials in eco-friendly fabrics. We currently offer sizes XS-3X and our goal is to continue to add more sizes (including petites) as we grow.
2 | How did you set up your supply chain?
We started from scratch, and it was not easy––lots of gnarly stories there. I do not come from a production background so it was extensive online research, conversations with friends in the industry, trusted introductions, and just simply learning from trying new vendors, but eventually we got our systems down that are working for our stage of growth right now. For example, we currently partner with local LA production companies that ensure living wages to their sewers and good working conditions, I have a pattern maker that I’ve met through a women’s networking group I am in, we work with fabric suppliers that source certified sustainable textiles, and we only use recycled materials for all our packaging and shipping. I am taking it step by step and doing my best to improve and implement Poplinen's core values of sustainability and inclusivity into every decision made along our supply chain.
3 | What has been hard about choosing an ethical/sustainable path?
The hardest part is how much more expensive it is to invest in ethical and sustainable systems, but I consider it a major investment into the future of the company––creating a strong and healthy foundation that grounds Poplinen in authenticity and meaning. The goal is for Poplinen to be a part of your wardrobe for years to come. Our prices are a bit higher because of this commitment to better quality and being made in America. By being transparent, offering modern essentials, and driving home the message of sustainability and inclusivity, we’re aiming to build lifetime trust and brand affinity with every customer.
4 | What would you go back and do differently if you could?
I would have taken my time and not felt so rushed by imaginary deadlines I made up for myself in the beginning. It’s really important you find the right people you can trust to work with because a hurried job can turn into important details being missed and compromised decision making that can reflect the brand poorly.
5 | What are some extra ways you seek to be more ethical and sustainable?
There is so much room to grow, and I find that exciting. In the near future I will definitely prioritize closing the loop with our clothing by offering ways to return your old Poplinen pieces for rewards and so we can pass these unique items onto someone else at an affordable price-point.
6 | Where do you see the brand going in the future?
I would like to see Poplinen grow steadily and intentionally over time. I see us expanding into other categories for women, including petite sizing. I also look forward to testing more retail experiences that connect with women interested in our offerings and help make Poplinen's collection more accessible for touching and trying-on.
Are you interested starting an ethical & sustainable fashion brand?
There are SO many areas to navigate as you set up your supply chain, learn social media for business, and building your sales it can feel completely overwhelming. But why go the hard way figuring this all out yourself when professionals can help you avoid those mistakes from the beginning?
Our Coaching Club is a 6 month brand mentorship program that gives you access to online brand courses and weekly coaching calls from fashion industry veterans to help you get real time feedback and build your brand for people, planet, and profit. Our first cohort will kick off October 1st, so sign up now because applications close September 20th and won't open again until March!