Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ruby Sinclair, founder of girl of the earth, located in New York, NY, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Each piece from the girl of the earth womenswear line is upcycled, made locally in NYC (by a single seamstress!) using valuable vintage fabric remnants dating 1930-1999. This means a couple of things:
- The quality & prints are just better than anything you find today (all our fabric is intrinsically valuable and also has the rarest and most interesting prints)
- There's zero environmental impact (have you heard fashion is now the world's 3rd worst polluting industry?)
- Every piece is what I like to call few-of-a-kind™ ☆ (we only make three alike pieces on average, which I adore because it sucks to wear the same thing as everyone else!)
Tell us about yourself
I grew up to nutty antique-dealer parents, so I've been exposed to vintage and secondhand since birth and would consider myself, in many ways, an expert. After graduating with a master's degree in entrepreneurship from London College of Fashion in 2017, I wanted to start an eco-friendly womenswear brand but simultaneously was horrified by all the greenwashing happening in fashion, especially with trendy 'sustainable' brands often pushing 'organic cotton' and other fabrics that are only minimally better than the norm.
I was drawn to the idea of upcycling, where I wouldn't have to conduct research/trust dubious manufacturers/etc. to know that there's zero environmental impact in the garment I'm making. Probably somewhere at a flea market, I had the idea to create womenswear out of vintage fabric remnants, combining my newfound love of upcycling and my comfort zone of vintage.
Because of my upbringing, I'm lucky to have inherited and cultivated relationships with antique suppliers, flea market owners, eccentric grandmas, and just plain hoarders, who I consistently buy vintage fabric remnants from. It's a super unconventional supply chain and requires my expertise (and a lot of luck), but basically, I'm just really, really good at shopping! After a couple of failed attempts, I found my legendary seamstress in mid-2019, and the girl of the earth brand was born!
With little financial backing (except a present of $2K from my dad to start the brand), I was barely chugging along, and I was beginning to feel pretty discouraged. When the pandemic hit, I was quarantined at home with my mom in N.Y.C. I randomly sewed some face-masks for us using my late grandmother's tiny bits of leftover vintage fabric in her sewing kit. I put them on my Instagram and literally had thousands of orders that day. Because my seamstress was super busy sewing gowns, masks, etc., for hospitals, I sewed all-girl of the earth masks myself. It was the craziest three months of my life. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep, I was cutting, sewing, and packing, but I'm so grateful it helped jumpstart the brand. To this day, I get orders with little notes. "So excited for this purchase; I found you back in May 2020 through face masks!"
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I was thrilled for girl of the earth to be featured as 'one of the best upcycling brands to know now' by Man Repeller, Coveteur, Seventeen, V Mag, Gotham Mag, and more!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Finding the motivation to continue when it feels like every effort is going unnoticed and finding the inspiration to be creative when you're tired and in a routine.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- People will always give unsolicited advice, and it's best to ignore them completely.
- Find a way to conduct all business remotely.
- Work the hours that work best for you, don't worry about when other people work!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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