People’s Product - Eva & Chelsea

Full listen: Spotify | iTunes

Who are you
I’m Chelsea, a Toronto baby from two immigrant parents (Mexican and Scottish), I’m half of the People’s Product. I’m Eva, the other half of the People’s Products, I’m very Canadian, my friends make fun of me for being their most Canadian friend. Travelling is what initiated our brand, and six years ago we slowly starting building this brand through our mutual love for travelling and friendship, and here we are today.

We met eight years ago in our Fashion Design program at Ryerson University. We were put together in class for an assignment, then started travelling together right after graduating, starting with exploring Asia.

How did you come up with the idea
Eva - As a student in Fashion Design at Ryerson (university), you are required to do 400 hours interning. I did my internship for Joe Fresh, and learned a lot about product development and the corporate world. It wasn’t feeding me the way that I expected fashion too, when I initially went into it. For a year afterwards, I spend time looking for an opposite experience, to see what else is out there. I ended up working for a social enterprise serving the Masai community in Kenya, working with women in the community. I used that experience for my final year thesis. From there, I worked in Asia and Canada, with importation of fabrics and arts and crafts.

Chelsea - I have always loved thrifts, and fair trade items, sold at places like Ten Thousands Villages. When Eva started working with enterprises importing and exporting goods between countries, especially fashion crafts, I realized that it would be possible for us to build a company where we incorporate artisans work into our own vision.

Operating a global Fair Trade business
Eva - That is why, we chose to work with craft makers in India. We realize that we are not on the ground every day working with artisans, so it made a lot more sense for us to work with organizations that were already fair trade certified, with social workers and proper leadership, to make that the artisans are treated in an ethical manner. We started researching other fashion companies working internationally with fair trade to understand how they went about forging sustainable relationships with artisans. We started reaching out to different small organizations, and ended up doing our first trip to India to meet all of them.

What is the agreement and process working with artisans

Chelsea - These organizations that we work with, are very much regulated as per Fair Trade laws. We bring them our samples, then the artisans decide how much they are going to charge for every step of the way. They do everything from our fabric productions, to every single buttons, and packaging. Then we pay 30% on top of whatever the artisan(s) gets paid for the organization overseeing the operation.

How do you come up with the design
Chelsea - We co-design all of our pieces, by starting with the question: what do we love to wear? What parts of our body do we want to accentuate? What can be worn everyday, and be comfortable? We were originally taught in school to design first, and source after. For fair trade, that doesn’t always work because there is always limitations working with different materials that aren’t mill made. It’s all about simple beauty, and making classic pieces, so it is long lasting.

Eva - All of our items are hand woven, with no electricity involved, not knit. This is a very big part of our design.

Knowing your limitations as an entrepreneur
At the beginning, you want to do and control everything. You want to save money all the time. In terms of knowing when to outsource, for us, we can sow but not an item to sell to a customer. Whereas, local artisans in India, are far more skilled in that area. Even when trying to sow one of our items, it took us days to sow it and it still didn’t look as good as the ones made by local artisans. Once you realize that it is taking you too long to do something, that is when you outsource.

The design process and working with local artisans. That’s where our heart is. Meeting happy customers, like putting together our first pop-up shop, that’s always amazing to see that we are targeting the right people. Everytime someone says anything about our brand, it is a great confidence boost.

Challenge(s) encountered
Raising seed funds. It is a big learning curve, coming from a design background, we didn’t know what raising funds meant. One of our mentor  just raised money, others do kickstarters. We had to learn that it is all about selling your ideas, passion, and dream. We got inspired by tech companies, and it took us a long  time to understand pitch decks, financial projection, meeting people and pitch our idea.

Choosing a business partner
Someone who you can be around with 24 hours a day, and be ok. Not get easily agitated by them. Sometimes we argue, only to realize that we are saying the exact same thing. Be comfortable to say anything to them, it is literally like having a marriage, you’re spending your life together.

How would you like to be remembered
Eva - Always speaking my truth, hopefully help people along the way.
Chelsea - Help yourself, so you can help people.

Three words to describe yourself
Chelsea - Passionate, persistent, authentic.

Eva - Optimistic, calm, open-minded.

No comments

Post a Comment



Email *

Message *

Mailchimp link


Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to our newsletter and don't miss new posts!