Backpack your way to Fashion Designerdom: Real Role Models

I was first introduced to this gorgeous and cool friend duo, bloggers & then aspiring eco fashion designers Kristin and Shannon a year ago when they were travelling in Nicaragua. I was so envious – of the fact that they were not just travelling, they were working together as a best friend team! How lucky are they to partner with a friend who shares the same vision for their company and to obviously get along so well that they can not only work but travel together! I want one of those!

As a sedentary bootstrapping solo social media entrepreneur it can get pretty lonely (although my supportive husband is my best friend, chief production guy and advisor, I spend most of my LivLuna time alone with my laptop)- having a girlfriend share the stress and work of a startup sounds so great and sooo fun!

I had a chance to interview the dynamic duo about fashion, sustainability, and female entrepreneurship and hope it inspires you LivLunatics to escape the 9 to 5, follow your heart and manifest your dreams! Kristin & Shannon are LivLuna members and motivating Real Role Models and I am so psyched for them that they are making it happen and have brought their first design to market!

This interview is part of a series of interviews with kicka** LivLunatics we call Real Role Models who are doing awesome and inspiring things with their life and manifesting their dreams. 

In 2008, Kristin Glenn and Shannon Whitehead met while backpacking around the world. Two years later, they started a sustainable clothing company called {r}evolution apparel — a women’s line for minimalists and travelers.

This November they launched the first piece of their line, the Versalette — a garment that can be worn over 15 different ways (as a shirt, dress, skirt, scarf, hood, and even purse- see pics below!). {r}evolution apparel uses 100% recycled fabric (50% recycled cotton from cutting room floors, and 50% recycled water bottles) made in the USA. The fabric manufacturing, dyeing, and sewing is all done in the United States, within a 200-mile radius.

Maria: What is All of Us and revolution apparel? Are you guys designers or bloggers?

K&S: All of Us Revolution is a blog we started about a year ago. The purpose was to document the entire process of starting a business — from the ideas floating around in our heads, to the point of introducing a product to the world. We wanted to have a place online where other twenty-somethings, with no clue about starting a business, could see the process unravel. 

So, first and foremost, I would say that we’re bloggers! The clothing line came later — once we had developed our ideas and started to learn about the design process. With the help of books, Google, and expert advice, we were able to bring our concepts to life.

Maria: How can a regular girl become a fashion designer?

K&S: Fashion is funny, because it’s really all about ‘who you know.’ When we started, we didn’t know anyone! The first thing we did was read as much as we could about the design process. Kathleen Fasanella’s book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing is a great place to start.

We Googled, a ton, and learned a bit about fashion sketching and tracing. We drew out our ideas, pasted them into “spec sheets” to show around to manufacturers. Some people responded well; others never called us back. But we kept refining our sketches, and eventually enlisted the help of local pattern-makers and designers to walk us through the entire process.

Ultimately, it’s about asking for help. Anyone with an idea, or a concept, can be a “designer.” It just requires determination, and a willingness to ask experts.

Maria: When did you know you wanted to design clothes?

K&S: We studied business and journalism in college — a far cry from fashion. When we started our blog we originally planned to go to Central America and just find clothes we liked, and bring them back to the USA. But as we packed our bags, we realized that there was truly a need for a women’s clothing line that was functional, fashionable, and super-versatile for people who live like we do. (We’re very minimalist, and also travel a ton.) That’s when we knew that we had to actually design the line — nothing like it exists on the market, so it was up to us to make it happen.

Maria: How and why did you focus on eco fashion?

K&S: Above all other titles (bloggers, fashion designers, etc.), we are environmental activists. I think it comes from our experience with travel — seeing so much beauty in the world makes you want to preserve it, desperately. Now, we’re the kind of people who use cloth napkins, shun water bottles, bike, grow vegetables, and live very non-disposable lives.

So it wouldn’t make sense for us to start a business that uses pesticide-ridden cotton, or cheap overseas labor. While that would be a much easier, and cheaper way to start our line, it’s something that we never, ever considered once we started to learn more about the industry. We’re still working on our sustainability measures, but we think that 100% recycled fabric, and 100% USA-made from fiber to sewing is a pretty great start.

Maria: Being an eco fashionista, I love the concept of clothing that multitasks! How long have you been into sustainable fashion?

K: We both started living these “extreme” sustainable lifestyles in the past 18 months or so. Honestly, before we decided to start a business (and began learning about eco-fashion) I was a mall-rat. I loved shopping for bargains, and cheap clothes were exciting to me. Since learning about where our clothes come from, I’ve realized that cheap fast-fashion is made with toxic synthetics and ecologically-ravaging cotton. The fibers are shipped all over the world, and our clothes are sewn under labor conditions we would be appalled by.

I buy only sustainable options now, and also thrift quite often. I try to pare down, and stick to just a few pieces that I love. I am 100% certain that I will never go back to the mall again.

Maria: How did you guys become BFFs 😉 ? 

K: We met in Australia in 2008. We had both graduated that year, myself from Tulane and Shannon from the University of Florida. I think that we both wanted to get away from ladder-climbing of corporate America, and see the world, and each of us ended up bartending in Sydney around the same time. We met, had an awesome few months hanging out, and then went our separate ways to continue traveling. When we were both back in the USA, there was a mutual feeling of, “Oh my gosh, what next?” We started talking about that big quarter-life question, and a business was born.

Partnership is one of the most intense things ever. It’s truly challenging at times, yet makes this process seem easy the rest of the time. We wouldn’t be anywhere without each other.

Maria: What is the hardest thing about starting a company?

K&S: Perseverance. It can be defeating — especially with the roadblocks of the sustainable fashion industry. The biggest challenge is keeping your spirits up enough to keep going. It’s all mental!

Maria: What is your strategy for manifesting your dreams?

K&S: Keep going. Keep looking at the big goals. Envision success. Most importantly, build a community that cares about sustainability as much as we do, and ultimately change the way people view fashion and the environment.

Maria: What are your tips on creating a successful blog?

K&S: It sounds trite, but good content is key! We’ve had many posts that have completely bombed, and a few posts that had viral influence. Another thing is consistency. Post on a schedule, and don’t let the blog die!

Maria: What advice do you have for girls who want to start their own thing in the fashion industry?

K&S: Well, we could go on forever…First, do a lot of informational interviews in the beginning. If you aren’t a designer by trade, hire a consultant or find a partner who is more involved in the industry. It will make the process move much faster. And lastly, trust yourself and your ideas. You don’t have to do things “conventionally,” and your products may be even better if you don’t!

Kristin & Shannon blog at www.allofusrevolution.com, and www.revolutionapparel.me.

Watch their cute video here:

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *