If it’s not already obvious, Tradlands is one of my all time favourite labels. Why? because they fix the boob gap issue in my shirts, because they make dressing for work effortless, because they are sustainably made, because they are ethically made. I can go on, but I figure if you’ve come to this post you’ve already read my summary of Tradlands and all they do. If you haven’t, check that out here so you can join me on my fan girl level.
For those of you who have been following me for a while now, you’ll know I like to interview the founders of these incredible brands doing great things so that the gap between the founder who pours their heart and soul into making the brand what it is and the consumer much smaller. It’s my aim that when people compliment the pieces of clothing you own, for you to be able to tell people not only why what you are wearing is helping to change to world but furthermore you’re able to explain the story behind why it exists and what the founders dreams for the brands are. Atleast, I know that’s the story I like to tell when people ask me where I got something, so I hope you’re the same.
Today interview is with Sadie, the founder of Tradlands which I’m sure you all know by now if one of my favourites. I hope you enjoy Changemakers x
WHAT MADE YOU START TRADLANDS?
Our story was really inspired by what wasn’t there. Time and time again, when shopping for myself, I wanted the styles and textiles I saw in menswear. I would pick up a great denim jacket or pair of chinos and think, “I wish they made this in my size.” I especially noticed this when it came to button-ups. So I started by developing a great button-up shirt, inspired by menswear but fit for a woman’s body. Shirts I found in stores were either oversized “boyfriend-fit” or ill-fitting with terrible “boob gap”. The shirt we developed – and that has become loved by our customers – has a relaxed yet flattering fit. We make our shirts out of specially developed fabrics and add details like side gussets and French seams. Our clothing is meant to be worn well and last a lifetime.
WHAT IS SOMETHING OTHERS WOULDN’T KNOW ABOUT THE CLOTHING INDUSTRY THAT YOU THINK THEY SHOULD?
In the United States, there is a misleading idea that if it’s made in the US, it’s better quality and better for workers. But I’ve seen terrible working conditions in Los Angeles – and clothing with poor quality and fabric. There is a reason why you can buy a $7 t-shirt that’s made in LA. For me, it’s most important the company you purchase from is committed to transparency, meeting ethical and sustainability guidelines, and paying it’s workers a living wage. We are working on redesigning our website and adding more about what we do and how we do it. I’m looking forward to sharing more and more with our customers.
I think if people are familiar with your blog they know the importance of ethical and sustainable manufacturing practices. But I think something that is not talked about as much is the cost of clothing, especially when purchasing from a smaller label like ours. Ethically and sustainably made clothing costs more to make. We ensure a living wage for our sewers and employees. A purchase from a small business helps that company grow, pay their employees better, and invest back into the business. I’m the owner but I also select fabrics and buttons, answer customer emails, coordinate with bloggers, and manage the financials. I do a little bit of everything. It’s a different story with big brands and fast fashion companies. You see it in everything from the quality of the garment to the life of the person who made it.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING THING YOU HAVE UNCOVERED SINCE THE BEGINNING?
I haven’t necessarily uncovered anything difficult since starting Tradlands. We do lots of research before even meeting with new suppliers and factories. More than anything we come up against quality and streamlining issues. But I worked for a different clothing company years ago, before starting Tradlands. If you’ve seen The True Cost, I’ve definitely seen some terrible practices like those shown in the movie. It’s also how I knew I wanted to do things differently for my own business.
WITHIN THE ETHICAL FASHION COMMUNITY, THERE’S A BIG QUESTION THAT WE ASK WHICH IS ‘WHO MADE MY CLOTHES?’. IN THE SCOPE OF TRADLANDS, WHO MADE YOUR CLOTHING? CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT THEM?
We now partner with boutique clothing manufacturers in different places – United States, Mexico, Italy, China – who love their craft and care about the people they employ. Different places specialize in different things and it’s been fun and enlightening to partner with people all over the world. The people we partner with hold social welfare and production quality to the highest standards. We are proud to work with them and share their work with our customers. Together, we employ adults who are paid a living wage, work in bright, clean and airy environments, and choose to come to work every day. We visit our production facilities regularly to assure a happy and healthy environment.
Each new product, like our business, is developed slowly and sustainably. We obsessively engineer each detail and refine our customer favourites every year. The amount of care shown in creating great products is always reflected in the attention to detail. There is a clear difference between a shirt bought at a fast-fashion retailer and a shirt purchased from us.
We find and develop the highest quality materials we can get our hands on. Wherever possible, we choose natural fibres that are sustainably produced to be more ecologically responsible. We utilize 98% of the fabric we make and have a recycling program for remnants. During our rigorous quality inspections, any pieces that do not meet our requirements are donated to local women’s shelters and Dress For Success.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
This advice wasn’t given to me personally but I love this quote from Warsan Shire:
“Don’t assume, ask. Be kind. Tell the truth. Don’t say anything you can’t stand behind fully. Have integrity. Tell people how you feel.”
ONE TIP YOU’D GIVE TO OTHERS WHO ARE WANTING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Celebrate the wins! Your first sale. A new product or great customer review. Your first hire. A project your team completed. I tend to be pretty tough on myself and have high expectations of my own performance. The hardest days – and sometimes months – when I am so unsure, have helped me realize who I want to become as a woman and business owner. Through reading and reflection I’ve learned it’s important to celebrate the wins. Ask for help when you need it. Share your process. Be fearless. Define your future and put smaller goals in place to create it.
WHERE DO YOU ENVISION TRADLANDS IN THE FUTURE?
My goal is to have an always ethical, global brand that can outfit a woman from head to toe. At the beginning, I thought we’d make lots of products right away, but that wasn’t possible at all. We’ve learned to focus on doing one thing really well and talk to our customers about what they want to see from us. But now we’re in the place to kind of stretch our legs a little bit and so I’m hoping to kind of introduce some stuff that we’ve been thinking about for a long time. We’re working on denim and shoes for next year, which I’m really (really) excited about.
WHO INSPIRES YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DO ON A DAILY BASIS?
Our team certainly inspires me to make better products for our customers and create more opportunities for our team to grow. We’re a female-driven group, which I love.
I think most small business owners have moments or periods when failure feels inevitable. You question every decision you’ve ever made. Those are the times I am most grateful for the people who inspire me by believing in me, like my husband and my parents.
DO YOU HAVE A MORNING ROUTINE? IF SO WHAT IS IT YOU DO TO SET YOURSELF UP FOR THE DAY AHEAD?
It’s pretty simple. I usually wake up at 7am, snuggle with my dogs in bed for a few minutes, shower, drink a green juice and get to work. To set myself up for the day I check my planner – I use a Passion Planner – and calendar. Then I write down the most important 3 things I want to complete that day. I also keep a gratitude journal where I write down 3 things I am grateful for every morning.
ONE BOOK EVERYONE SHOULD READ? WHY?
Let My People Go Surfing is the part biography and part company memoir by Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard. It’s a great book for anyone interested in sustainability and making an impact in the world. His model inspires me to make the best quality products and also create a socially and environmentally responsible workplace.
I’d also recommend anything by Seth Godin for business advice.
ARE THERE ANY MOVERS AND SHAKERS OUT THERE IN YOUR WORLD THAT YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?
I would keep an eye on Left Edit. It’s a brand in the development phase, co-founded by Kestrel Jenkins, the voice behind Conscious Chatter.
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