It's not uncommon to learn about the problems in the fashion industry and be compelled to make it better for people and planet. But starting a brand requires a lot of work, flexibility, patience, and most of all beautiful, quality product that people want to buy. Getting to this point is challenging and often unclear, so we try to feature brands who are doing regularly so you can get a peak behind the scenes of what it feels like and what challenges to expect. Here's a look into the Canadian based brand Poème Clothing and our interview with Founder, Connie Howes.
1 | What made you start this brand?
I started Poème out of a love for the West Coast of Canada, where I grew up and currently still live. I wanted to create clothing pieces that reflected the lifestyle that we have here and to introduce these to the rest of the world. I wanted to merge my passion for fashion with my appreciation for the culture and location of where I live.
2 | How did you go about setting up your supply chain?
A mentor helped to guide me through the first year of starting Poème. He introduced me to the family-run factory that I work with in Bali. During that first year, I also worked with a few other vendors including one in Vancouver which is more accessible to me. I sourced sustainable textiles from Vancouver and from overseas in order to get a good feel of what is out there. Ultimately, the family-run business in Bali is now my regular supplier; the more intimate relationship and family-run atmosphere are what offered me the most fulfillment.
3 | What has been hard about choosing an ethical and sustainable path?
The challenges for me have been the additional costs of using sustainable fabrics and pricing those in a way that is still affordable for the customer. Packaging has been another concern but more companies are popping up now with biodegradable and recyclable packaging which is nice.
4 | What would you go back and do differently if you could?
I would say no more often. The first year, in particular, I was so new at this I was easily distracted by offers and opportunities for the brand. I have learned that it is more effective to narrow in on my goals and on what I wish to accomplish month to month. The fashion industry moves quickly and the timelines are critical. Learning to make the most of my time is something I wish I had known from the start.
5 | What are some extra ways you seek to be more ethical and sustainable?
Right now, I am sourcing alternatives to the rayon I have been using for certain styles. I plan to use materials to replace the rayon prints that I have used up until this point. The new fabrics will still have the beautiful silky finish and colorful prints, but they meet the Oeko-Tex and Global Recycle Standard (GRS).
6 | Where do you see the brand going in the future?
I see the brand developing more of a sophisticated style and introducing more options like evening wear. Our goal is to expand and to also become 100% sustainable. We would also like to see the brand more accessible for customers in order for them to try on the clothing in person; we will do that by affiliating with more stores internationally.