Over the past twenty years, the fast fashion industry has taught us to buy cheap and buy often- what we now call unconscious consumerism. If you are as passionate about ethical living and slow fashion as much as I am, I am sure that you would have heard of Encircled before. They are an amazing ethical, mindful and totally transparent brand that I would definitely recommend checking out! Today I am back with another interview in my Conscious Wardrobe segment- this with the total girl boss, CEO and founder of Encircled: Kristi Soomer!
I could not be happier to have the privilege of interviewing Kristi for this segment! I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.
We’re on a mission to help women live and travel lighter by designing modern and versatile essentials that can truly help women build conscious wardrobes full only of things they love, and actually wear.
Part of our responsibility as a brand is to educate consumers on why they need to care about where, and how their clothing is made. Due to the size of the industry, there is a massive impact on the planet, and people created by fashion brands. We believe it’s our calling to help consumers make better, informed choices when shopping and offer stylish apparel at accessible price points that makes the choice between ethicallymade, and not, not even a question.
What inspires your collections the most?
Versatility, and helping customers do more with less in their wardrobes. I’m always intrigued with the idea of transformation in fashion. Taking a regular item and making it have elements which delight customers. For example, our Revolve Dress. At first glance, it looks like a tunic dress, with a cowl neck. However, it’s actually designed to be worn forwards or backwards (drape in the front or back), and it can be styled as a tunic, dress or top. The idea of taking a clothing item that women would wear one place, and making it appropriate for multiple occasions of wear is another challenge I love. Our dressy sweatpants are the prime example of this a pant that’s comfortable enough to wear to yoga, but the style and lux fabric, makes them totally office friendly.
We aren’t your typical fashion company that launches collections with 35+ pieces. We launch a design. We’ll run it in a small batch, listen to customer feedback, make any changes, and run it again in popular colours, or add new fabrics or colourways. Much of our business is replenishing and selling our core designs. New product development is an important part of our business, but we’ve grown our business off of creating products that customers rave about, and that often replace 34 items in their existing closet.
Follow your heart.
What made you start Encircled?
I’m a former strategy management consultant a job that comes with typically 5 days a week travel, flying from client to client, with North America, and sometimes globally.
As a result, I became a devoted carryon traveller. I refused to check a bag because it ate up too much time at the airport before, during and after. I wanted to travel as lean as possible, as spending time in transit when you’re practically living at an airport is just not fun.
On a vacation one year, I decided to go to a yoga retreat. When packing for the retreat, my suitcase broke, and I had to stuff everything into a way smaller bag. I started to get frustrated that I didn’t have more clothing that could be worn on different occasions. I had one of those 30waytowear infinity scarves, and it was totally useless. The fabric was see through, it was not hemmed, and it basically looked like a sack however you styled it. I decided to start there and make the best multiway garment I could, using luxuriously soft, sustainable and travel friendly fabric, and make it do 8 things really well. This became the Chrysalis Cardi. I have zero fashion background, but knew the idea had legs based on the small sample of people who saw the product, so I launched Encircled.
I see Encircled becoming one of the industry leaders in the ethical womenswear space in North America. The momentum in the fashion industry is shifting towards ethically made goods as consumers are increasingly wanting to know more about who, and how their clothing is made.
We’re definitely at the front line of that movement.
Internally, we want to focus on more vertical integration in order to be more agile and foster our culture not only among our head office team members but throughout our entire supply chain. Additionally, doing more inhouse balances off the cost of producing onshore, keeps quality at the forefront, and allows us to produce more to demand.
Externally, though we are primarily an online brand, we want to expand our retail footprint, and I envision us opening up our own stores across the country that will serve not only as a place to retail our clothing, but as a true community hub for workshops, seminars and collaborating on sustainability, minimalism, healthy living, entrepreneurships and travel.
Who inspires you most?
Entrepreneurs, creators, makers who are committed to making a positive impact on the world. Those who put their focus, time, money and investment behind projects to better the planet and people living on it.
What is behind the name ‘Encircled’?
The name Encircled started off inspiration from my first design The Chrysalis Cardi, a versatile cardigan, circle scarf, dress, tunic, and top.
The name was rooted in my mission to build a company that embraced what I had termed, “Full circle fashion”. Fashion that doesn’t harm anyone in the process fashion the benefits our customers by offering quality made, ethically made stylish apparel, our economy by producing locally, and the planet by using sustainable fabrics, and sourcing.
Today, Encircled is on a mission to help women be more with less, and build more conscious closets, full only of the things they truly love, and wear. Sustainability and ethical production are at the core of what we do and permeate throughout our entire organization from the fabrics we buy, to where we make clothing, to the paper products we use in our office.
My favourite part of Encircled is their transparency. They believe that fashion should NOT be a secret society. They are real. They share how and where their designs are made, where their fabrics are sourced, and involve customers from day one in the design process.
Encircled forever focus on making sure that your garments are maximum quality. The main fabrics they use are Bamboo, Tencel and Modal- these are all biodegradable and are naturally derived fabrics. Also, they are all light draping (there is nothing worse than having a heavy drape.)
If you would like to see my previous interview with Sica Schmitz from Bead & Reel, click here
If you would like to see my post on the Benefits of Eco housing, click here