Last month, I shared about a small-batch activewear brand out of Vancouver called Daub | Active. I received two pairs of her leggings and a mesh tank top for the post, but, aside from my (of course) highly positive review of Lexi's products, it's always my goal to take you a little bit deeper than "how do they fit" and "where were they made".
As part of a three-post series on the brand, I'm so excited to share an interview with the founder, designer, and one-woman-show behind both Daub | Active and Daub + Design. Lexi is incredibly intentional with the way she structures and runs her businesses and her interview is proof of just how much work (and extra expense) it can be to keep your brand ethical.
She talks about whether or not "eco-friendly" is really possible in the fashion industry, tips for new business owners and dreamers, and the importance of self-care. Enjoy!
Can you explain a bit of your background and what led you to jump into founding an ethically minded brand?
My background is in Fashion Merchandising and Textile Arts. I studied at Emily Carr University to achieve my BFA so my background is fairly well-rounded for the industry. I've worked with various independent designers over the years and in the film & hospitality industries. In both, there is a lot of waste.
One of my instructors at school hired me for costume design and really stressed the idea of what we refer to as "exhausting" the dye bath - using only the dye you need for the proper amount of time at the right temperature and with the correct fixatives. If this is done correctly, the colour will be "fast" (fixed to the fabric) and will not bleed or fade. I chose to work with fabrics initially that would absorb the dye easily and ensure there would be less harmful dyes or toxic fixatives going back into our water stream.
What makes Daub Active different from other activewear brands out there?
Every piece remains unique as with the original Daub + Design. We use beautiful fabrics that are each printed with our exclusive hand-dyed patterns. We design in-house and then sample and produce everything 20 minutes from our studio in Vancouver. We're a very small team. Often it's just one or two people in the studio at any given time. Our owner, Lexi Soukoreff, answers every email and phone call and personally meets many of her clients face to face. We have kept it very much a customer-driven and design-based business.
Can you tell us a bit about digital printing and how it is a more eco-friendly option?
I wouldn't say anything is the garment industry is "eco-friendly" to be honest. Even recycled-from-pop-bottle-fabrics aren't "eco". It ends the life-cycle of the pop bottle as renewable. Anything mixed with spandex becomes not-eco as it can't continued to be recycled.
Let's be real. To be eco-friendly, we need to consume less. Buy better quality and buy less quantity. We need to purchase our goods close to home rather than ignoring the vast distances within our supply chains. If the plant (cotton, hemp, linen for example) is grown in the US, processed into fibre in India, spun into thread in Bangladesh, knitted into fabric in Vietnam, shipped to China to be digitally printed or dyed, shipped to somewhere else in China to be cut and sewn and then shipped to a distribution centre in the USA in little poly bags to be divided into shipments for multiple retail location - it's already traveled more in it's lifetime than many people and has an enormous carbon footprint and waste. We try to keep our supply chain as close to home as possible.
Sublimation printing is also referred to as digital printing. It's a kind of digital printing but is specific to polyester. Digital printing can be done on a variety of fibres, including cotton, silk and polyester. There is also DTG (direct to garment printing).
Sublimation printing can be viewed as less wasteful but it still uses paper and inks and off shoots gases. Our focus at Daub is really on minimizing our wastage from season to season by offering limited runs so we're not stuck with over stock and having to put everything on sale for a fast fashion brand. We carry styles over from season to season and produce a garment that lasts rather than falls apart or goes out of style immediately. It costs us exponentially higher to produce this way but it's more mindful and encourages slow fashion.
You're running your business as a "one woman show" — first off, you're amazing. Thank you! Secondly, what tips would you have for someone wanting to start their own business but doesn't feel like they can do it on their own?
- Just do it. Dive head first. Be smart. Stop putting it off.
- Read Steven Pressfield "Do the Work" or the "War of Art" and also "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber.
- Learn simple accounting and get organized from the get go.
- Make lists. Lots of lists.
- Use your alarm clock on your phone to take notes so you don't forget things.
- BE ON TIME. Don't waste others by keeping them waiting. You'll understand this in 5 years when it's your time that's super valuable.
- Believe in yourself. Take deep breaths. Sleep when you need to. Naps are the best.
- Take care of your health. Get sleep. Eat healthy. Go to the gym even when you're too tired. Spend time with your loved ones because they are the ones who love you even at your worst (and there will be lots of "worst" days - trust me). Plus, you want them there when you have something to celebrate!
- Be disciplined. Set schedules for yourself.
- Get a mentor but trust your gut. Hone your gut. Trust it and if it says no way but your mind is confused, go with your gut. You and only you know what's best for you.
- Learn to say no.
- Learn to network.
- Learn to let go of your ego. It tells you you're not good enough. Let that go. You're just not there yet.
- Stop gossiping. It's unprofessional.
- Listen when people give you advice. If it doesn't make sense now, it will in 3 years and you'll finally understand.
- You are your business. Everywhere you go. Be nice to people. Always. Smile. Be kind (even if you don't have a business - this one is true for everyone).
- I could go on for hours....
What is your goal for Daub in five years?
I'd like to see us doing more collaborations with companies and individuals we believe in. Maybe expand the design house into different areas.
And just for fun what is something most people don't know about you?
Hmmm. I love making time for others - be it as a mentor, or cooking a meal for a friend, or a quick pick-me-up-phone-call. Most people think I'm so busy that I won't have time to help them or be there. I learned the hard way that being busy all the time makes you really unapproachable. Taking 30 minutes or afternoon off will never make or break your life. I really want to see other women and individuals succeed. It feels great to watch someone grow their business and as the one doing the growing, it helps to know you have someone to rely on. Relationships of any kind are a two-way street.
Shop Lexi's full line at Daub | Active by Daub + Design here.