Today, November 23, we’re excited to celebrate Women Led Wednesday, a purpose-driven holiday on a mission to encourage folks to shop with women-led businesses, support female-founded brands, redistribute economic resources and opportunity to women-owned businesses, and inspire future generations of female entrepreneurs.
Today, we’re joined by Dana Weinstein, founder of LA Relaxed, a women’s apparel brand designed and responsibly made in Los Angeles, California to learn more about her journey as a female founder, her commitment to sustainability, and the importance of supporting women-owned brands today (and every day).
gb: Dana, thanks so much for chatting with us today. As we celebrate Women Led Wednesday, we’d love to learn more about our journey as a female entrepreneur. What led and/or motivated you to start LA Relaxed?
Happy to be here! I’ve been manufacturing in Los Angeles since the 90’s– I watched as most of our local manufacturing moved overseas taking a lot of accumulated knowledge and skill with it. When I began to envision and plan my own brand, I knew it had to be completely different from what I was witnessing. I wanted to keep it local, build a team of craftspeople that could eventually train others, and use responsible fibers in a way that would last.
gb: And you’ve done just that! So amazing. Since today is all about supporting women-owned brands (like yours!), can you share from your perspective and experience as a female founder why it’s important that we all support women-owned businesses?
My team is largely female and that wasn’t strategic, it was intuitive. Women are instinctively great at giving support, disseminating knowledge, sharing contacts, and building each other up. When you shop with women-owned businesses, you’re supporting current and future leaders like this.
gb: Speaking of aspiring female entrepreneurs, for those who may be reading this, what advice or first step would you share with them for getting started?
We started a small, self-funded business – I just jumped in feet first. What I didn’t know I learned (or found someone who did). It was certainly a challenge in this industry especially, but I leveraged my community and connections to create a strong team. I think that’s key: be open to learning and don’t be afraid to ask for expertise.
gb: That’s great advice, thank you! Apart from being a women-owned and operated business, LA Relaxed is also a sustainable, certified ethical business. As a business that designs and makes all of its products under one roof in Los Angeles, measures your “impact in footsteps, not a footprint,’ and assembles each of your garments in ‘under 100 footsteps,’ can you tell us ab it more about this process and its significance?
Certainly. From our design studio, to the pattern room, from the sample sewer, to the cutting table, and from the production line through to the inspection and packaging line– we make everything in our own factory. Historically, this is the way the apparel industry functioned and it’s always been (and continues to be) critical to the quality and craftsmanship of the garments.
Creating local jobs is also a vital part of my mission for our company.
It’s so important to me personally not only to invest in my own community, but also to create an environment where people can learn skills and develop a craft that they can pass along. L.A. needed a reinvestment and reinvigoration of this industry and it’s coming back in full force.
gb: What a transformative mission! In regards to your sustainable practices, LA Relaxed you also utilizes deadstock fabrics and limited run production methods, for those who may not be familiar can you share why these materials and practices are better for our shared planet?
Absolutely. Deadstock refers to extra fabric that is going to be thrown out by the mill– typically fabric that was overproduced or canceled by the original customer. Rather than see it end up in a landfill, we purchase these materials and turn them into something beautiful. Producing limited runs, (essentially the practice of producing a limited or small number of items) is a great way to test proof of concept on new styles and not end up with excess waste. It allows us to inject novelty into new, favorite styles when we find a fabric we love, even if we can only source a few rolls of materials. Producing this way minimizes waste and allows us to work on a demand-based model, rather than creating more items that will be sold.
gb: You’ve truly created such a thoughtful model for all you do, thanks for sharing more about it with us! Since we’re us and we love small businesses, we have to ask: apart from LA Relaxed, who are a few of your favorite women-owned small businesses and what do you love about them?
I’m a fan of JJ Winks, a local loungewear brand using sustainable fabrics. Rudy Jude is another slow brand doing really interesting work and manufacturing on a similar model. In the non-apparel space, Lesse is making beautiful high quality skincare, and Moon Juice is a favorite of mine for wellness items.
gb: Yes! These are all such thoughtful recs, thank you. When it comes to small businesses, what do you believe is the small business difference?
As a small business, we have eyes on each and every package that goes out the door to a customer. Each order is so incredibly important to us and we have our customers in mind from design, through fitting, to the quality control line. We want people to feel the love we have for what we do when they put on our garments. We also place a huge emphasis on the atmosphere we work in; it has to be safe, collaborative, and fair, and we only work with like-minded mills and vendors. So, when you make a purchase with us there’s a whole ripple effect of positivity through our little community over here!
gb: Yes! This so perfectly illustrates the intentionality and care that we believe makes shopping small such a meaningful experience. Thank you again for sharing what makes LA Relaxed so special. Anything else you’d like for us to know?
Just one last thing! As part of our investment into the craft of apparel making here in L.A, we’re excited to be expanding our product line into more technical and constructed garments and introducing some new fabric blends like sustainable velour and deadstock quilting.
We’re also preparing to launch a “Buy One Give One” campaign around the holidays with a clothing drive supporting young people in need in our community… stay tuned!
Start shopping with LA Relaxed on goodbuy here, and join us for Women Led Wednesday by shopping with women-owned small businesses today and every day!