Building a brand is exciting and has lots of twists and turns. Step behind the scenes of ethical fashion brand Poppy Row to see how the Founder Crystal Cave went from an idea (half naked in a bathroom) to launch to serve all sizes with modular staples that work for every facet of life.
What made you start this brand?
After working as a celebrity stylist, I was running an online style school merging training as a life coach and stylist to help women feel confident in their style and love their bodies in the process. I realized, since the majority of my women were on the cusp between straight and plus size, so many of them were coming to our weekly calls during the program having a hard time finding great base or staple pieces. Like myself, who’s been somewhere between a 10-20 my entire adult life, I also had felt similar frustrations so I went to design school in Italy to be part of the change of a more inclusive industry.
It was there, as I was half naked in the small European bathroom stall because a jumpsuit gives you no other option, that lighting struck to have a jumpsuit you never had to get naked in the bathroom for again.
Also while in Italy, I learned about the many horrors of the fashion industry and the environment so when I came back to the US to move forward with the brand, I did so with our modular concept of interchangeable separates and a commitment to domestic and sustainable practices in my brand.
How did you go about setting up your supply chain?
I joined communities focused on building brands like Factory 45 and Startup Fashion to get help along the way, which connected me to resources and friends. Many are so open with wanting to share with other people and that was a big help as well, especially when I hit roadblocks. We currently have nearly all of our suppliers (except for our 100% recycled mailers) sourced from LA based companies, which all came from those communities.
What has been hard about choosing an ethical/sustainable path?
The two biggest things: 1. materials are harder to source thank you could ever imagine and they are more expensive for sustainable, domestic mills than you're expecting. That increases your upfront cost and also ends up increasing the final retail cost. And 2. is finding reliable manufacturing. We had to vet a lot of factories before finding the perfect team who was committed to having a great fit for us too!
What would you go back and do differently if you could?
We do knits so my biggest regret is having so many sizes since we go numerically vs an XL or 1x model. This is something we’re currently converting over to in order to simplify.
What are some extra ways you seek to be more ethical and sustainable?
Our factory reuses all our scraps after we cut our fabric so we have zero waste. All our shipping materials from our clear poly bags to our pink tissue paper are 100% recycled products.
Where do you see the brand going in the future?
I’d love to continue to do seasonal colors, add in awesome limited edition patterns and also do some limited pieces from deadstock fabric. Oh! And sustainable belts! I’m also manifesting being on Oprah’s favorite things and have always envisioned being on a Home Shopping network to connect with even more women! Follow us @hellopoppyrow!
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