If you haven’t heard of SPUN yet, don’t worry. You will. The lovely and talented founder of the company, Sara Seumae is riding a wave of popularity as her sustainable, chic designs continue to gain a reputation among fashionistas. I had the opportunity to “meet” Sara online and asked her if she’d let me interview her for Fashion, Evolved:
The Q: Do you design all the clothing at SPUN?
Sara Seumae: YES! But I will have to say that the emails from our customers and my mom and sister’s “two-cents” should be also be included.
The Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
Sara Seumae: My inspiration was and still is my two little girls. Like any mother, I want them to live the healthiest life possible. This includes what they eat as well as their environment. I also believe wholeheartedly that we need to leave this planet in better shape than we found it. I can’t dare look at my girls in the eyes if I feel that I have let them down. It’s not their fault that the world is the way it is. But I can do my very best to try and change it any way that I can. By choosing to wear organic cotton, you will not only help the environment but also the farmers who grow your cotton. Just like us, they have families that love them and I don’t want to be blamed for their failing health due to their exposure to pesticides either.
The Q: What kind of woman is a SPUN customer?
Sara Seumae: Our pieces are meant to be worn by every woman. We choose colors that will work with all different types of hair and eye colors as well as different complexions. We have also recently introduced Extra Large sizing to further broaden our customer reach. All of our pieces are longer than normal, allowing those of us who have had children, as well as those who wish to have a little more coverage the ease to do so. This also allows you to layer our pieces with some of your other favorites. We also make the bust on our pieces a little more fitted, as we feel that this is more flattering. Every piece is made in California, fair wage and sweat-shop free, using an environmentally friendly low-impact fiber reactive dye process. So you can rest assured that your clothes aren’t made under cruel conditions. The typical SPUN lady believes in the importance of not only wearing affordable clothing but cares about the condition of the people who have worked to bring the piece to you. From the farmer who works the cotton fields to the sewer who puts it all together, our customer cares about all of them. She also wants quality as well as classic pieces that aren’t the throw away pieces that you find elsewhere. Our pieces won’t fall apart after a few washes and are meant to be around no matter what the next season’s style brings us.
The Q: Why is sustainability an important issue for you, personally?
Sara Seumae: Living in Washington State, you can’t help but think about the environment. The rain helps keep everything green and that’s how we like it! Personally, my husband and I were always concerned about environmental causes. We started eating organic and using cloth diapers when our first daughter was born. It wasn’t until the birth of our second daughter, that we really started realizing all the other ways we could be better citizens. That’s when I realized my own desire for taking it a step further into green clothing. It was really easy for kids stuff and my husband just needed t-shirts. But for me, I couldn’t afford spending a lot just for clothes. We contribute one percent of our annual sales to environmental organizations through our membership with 1% For the Planet. We also try to reduce our footprint by doing such things as taking care of our own local deliveries rather than using other shipping methods. We also use recycled or reused cardboard boxes for shipping, biodegradable garment bags made from corn, and our hangtags are also made from 100% recycled paper. We believe that every little thing you can do helps.
The Q: Why do you think other companies aren’t making sustainable fashion?
Sara Seumae: I really think it’s a matter of supply and demand. As with everything else, we have a voice and can make ourselves heard by the items we choose to buy. The more we ask our grocer to carry organic foods, the more they will listen. The more we ask our local boutique to carry organic and sustainable fashion, the more they will listen. The designers who still use conventional cotton and other materials will watch their sales drop and will naturally follow. I also think that the price for organic fabrics are still reasonably high, which will again fall as demand rises. Therefore, the cost may still not work with other labels business format. We feel that as long as we can provide high quality organic clothing to every woman and stay afloat, then we should be okay.
The Q: What are you most proud of about your company?
Sara Seumae: I’m still in awe over the fact that I was able to put out two seasons without even a semester at fashion school. I went into this believing that there was something missing and I wanted to be the one that filled the void and somehow it has worked thus far. Not to say that it’s been easy because you can ask my husband and kids how much mommy works. But I think I have a leg up on other designers because I DON’T have the fashion background. I think it actually allows me to listen to what women want rather than design pieces that fit my ego. I would love to create something fancy and incredible, and maybe someday I will, but for now I would like to keep it as classic as possible. This is what women tell me they want, and I am listening.
The Q: What do you see in the future for SPUN?
Sara Seumae: I started with classic basics and hope to make more fashionable options available each season. I hope to move towards skirts, pants, leggings, and every other piece that women desire. We introduced dresses this season and will be offering more beautiful dresses in the Spring/Summer of 2009. I hope that we can still be the go-to brand for women who want to wear organic clothing but may be on a budget. We also hope to be able to stay accessible while still offering quality.
Sara Seumae: The one that really made me feel good was from a woman in Atlanta who said that thanks to us, she has been introduced to organic cotton. She always looked at it as a luxury item and never thought that it could be made available to her. She started with just one piece (our ¾ sleeve top) and came back the next month for everything else! She is now a die-hard Spun fan and I think really enjoys sending me emails with pieces she’d like to see us make!
The Q: What is your favorite piece in your collection to wear yourself?
Sara Seumae: That’s a really hard question because to be honest, I live in all of our pieces! Not only because it’s free to me…but mainly because I think that’s the best way to make sure that it works. Before a season even comes out, I wear samples so I could work out the “bugs”. I’m currently wearing a piece which I hope to be able to introduce for Fall/Winter 2009! But I think the piece that I wear almost everyday is our beater tanks. I live in the Seattle area and layering is a must for us. Therefore, I wear these tanks in all the colors under everything. It really is the best way to spruce up an outfit with just a little splash of color.