Behind the Brand Series: It All Started Here.
For 11 Years I enjoyed a life of relative stability...
working on Wall Street for large investment banks. I earned a steady income and took comfort in the fact that I had a clear road map for success - as long as I put in the hard work. While I stood to gain a lot from this career, I developed a void as it slowly starved my creative side. For that reason and more, I decided to leave Wall Street behind in early 2016 when I was pregnant with my son, Blake. Now here I am – on a journey to start my own sustainable children’s clothing brand from scratch with zero experience. I admit – it all sounds a little crazy!
The truth is I fell into this journey through the virtues of motherhood. This probably sounds a bit cliché, but bear with me. The “momtrepreneur” thing is definitely trendy and seems en vogue now, but I think it makes a lot of sense. Who better to create products for the next generation than their mothers? I’ve jumped on the bandwagon myself because I felt frustrated when shopping for Blake. I found the market for children’s clothing very bifurcated. On one end of the spectrum, clothes are inexpensive and functional, but laden with chemicals like pesticides, and aesthetically unoriginal. Footies adorned with paw prints over a baby’s bum are really cute at first, but after you own them in all 3 available colors you start to crave variety and something less cutesy and gender specific. On the opposite end of the spectrum, expensive clothes boast original designs, are sometimes sustainable and offer street cred, but they are hardly practical. Personally, I don’t think it’s fair to charge $50 for any toddler garment with instructions to hang dry the item to avoid shrinkage. What mom has time to read care labels? Also on the functionality front, unless you’re a mother that has had to squeeze your sons growing head painfully into t-shirts with necks too narrow, you wouldn’t realize how much of a no brainer neckline snaps are to help the process.
Outside of fast fashion labels such as H&M and Zara, there aren’t many domestic brands with attractive price points offering modern style for babies and kids. I turned to indie brands, but started to realize many of them were too pricey because they were imported and then sold wholesale – thus marked up at least 3x the cost. That’s when I started to think going direct to the consumer with stylish and thoughtful garments for babies and children at a middle-market price might be a good opportunity. That was where it all began…
Since I’ve started my research, sustainable fashion principles have become really important to me. I was around 7 months pregnant during the summer of 2016, which happened to be the earth’s hottest on record - literally. I wasn’t working at the time and I remember it being so hot that I did not leave our apartment in Brooklyn for almost two straight months. Walking pregnant in the heat was dangerous and the last thing I wanted to do was walk underground in an even hotter and smelly subway. In the end, I made the most of it by binge-watching the entire series of Game of Thrones in the comfort of our air-conditioned apartment. Though catching up on GoT was well worth it, those couple of months were brutal – and a firsthand reminder that global warming was real. The more I researched, the more I realized that unfair labor practices, pesticide contamination, soil pollution and worse are all common byproducts of the fashion industry. To bring it back to Deklan - when I committed to starting my business I committed to sustainability as well. Some of my fondest memories growing up were with my family outdoors – skiing, hiking, fishing, boating and biking to name a few. It started to dawn on me these experiences I cherished outdoors weren’t necessarily guaranteed for future generations with climate change rearing its ugly head.
Over the past year, I’ve seen first hand how dressing children can be inherently wasteful. They are constantly in growth mode! I think we can lessen the impact this has on our environment by purchasing from brands that commit to sustainability, like I have. I’m really inspired by the creativity indie brands have employed to lessen their impact on the environment, while creating something beautiful and functional. For example, this brand is producing bathing suits with fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. This brand reclaims old jeans and repurposes them into high-end denim apparel. How cool is that?
I’ve been asked a few times where the name comes from. Admittedly, Deklan is a bit random and there isn’t much significance behind it. But, I went with it because while Deklan is considered a boy’s name, often spelled Declan, it could be used for a girl as well. When I picture a girl named Deklan she has a tasteful edge to her. She looks good dressed in neutral palettes with accents of color. She might even be seen with a beanie hat for a little added flavor. This is the aesthetic I want reflected in my brand and I believe the name Deklan suits it well.
When I left my prior career to become a mom I promised myself that my next endeavor would be more fulfilling and closer to the heart. So far this experience has been just that and I can’t wait to see where else this journey will take me.