Gals. I have to admit, I didn’t know if we were going to pull this one off! We have been working on it behind the scenes for months and kept running into hurdles. We had samples arrive reeeeallly late in the process. We had to make adjustments to them on the fly. We had a vital person on the patternmaking side in Nepal lose a family member, thus leaving the sewing center for an extended period of time. And our photographer cancelled the night before our photoshoot! So it was with complete and utter joy and exhaustion that our Dhaka Collection launched on Monday!
But ya know, when I think about it…that’s really been the story of Trove all along. There have been hurdles every step of the way. There has always been something or someone who makes me think, “Can I actually really do this?" Starting your own business is no joke. It isn’t for the faint of heart or those who throw in the towel easily, that’s for dang sure! It literally involves problem solving and critical thinking skills and master/ninja warrior multi-tasking skills on the daily. Alas, we are still here and have managed to create another beautiful collection with some of our dear friends from Elegantees and the sewing center in Nepal!
First things first, we arrived at Parlor Beauty Bar at 7am ready for beautification. You know when you meet someone and you feel like you’ve known them for years already? That’s how I felt when I met the Founder, Charlotte. Having recently opened her doors as well, we related to each other on so many levels. We laughed at the scrappiness of our personalities, how we have little to no budget to make everything look and feel beautiful, how long days and nights have us looking haggard (hey new friend with beauty secrets) and how roping in your friends for ALL THE FAVORS is just part of it. She’s a complete gem and her one-stop styling lounge can cover any/all of your beauty needs. Please drop in and meet the ladies there – I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Next, we headed over to our location site in Austin called, Malverde. Many people haven’t heard of this hidden treasure and I don’t know how! It’s a bar and events venue directly above La Condesa and it has the most adorable outside patio with all the plants and pots and candle lit tables your little heart could ever want. I have been eyeing this spot for years trying to figure out how to take some pretty pictures of it and in it! When I determined the timing of the Dhaka launch and how it would be transitioning us into the fall season, I immediately thought of this venue’s gorgeous rust and moss wall outside and knew we had to shoot here.
Our photographer Brandon Hill was already on-site, doing what he does - prepping, setting up, testing lighting, making everything and everyone feel calm. Meanwhile I’m a frazzled mess of eyelashes and hair that is teased so high it could talk to Jesus in the heavens at this point. Brandon and I met about a year ago over coffee and our passion for all things fair trade. At the time, he was recording a podcast and interviewing some people who worked in the fair trade space. I remember sharing with him that day my dreams of launching Trove in the next year and I’ll never forget his genuine excitement for me. If you know Brandon, you know he is smart and capable and curious - all traits that I admire and also aspire to embody. I also just like people who own who they are. Not to be sexist, but I like that he’s a straight male who loves ethical fashion. Head to Europe and you’ll find plenty of Renaissance men, but for some reason that’s rare in American culture.
(Behind the scenes photo by: Bela Coto)
Brandon actually believes in ethical fashion so much that he recently founded a company called The People Label that will connect those in the ethical goods space to digital influencers who are interested in repping more socially conscious brands. That’s a game changer for us do-gooder brands! Needless to say, I’m excited to continue working with Brandon on multiple levels. I’m also happy he agreed to do a shoot with me on less than 24 hours notice and completely knocked the photography out of the park!
Our day continued with all the hustle and bustle any shoot would. In my true transparent form, I’m not here to paint a picture of deception for you. People assume that photoshoots are all bougie and glamorous when in all reality, they are grueling hard work. Having produced Noonday Collection's photoshoot for the past four years, I'm familiar with all the hard work it takes to pull off an incredible final product. There are a multitude of little stressors that have the propensity to send you over the edge at any moment if you let them. There are fans and light reflectors being whisked around for different shots. Sweat and sometimes even tears. There are models getting cut out of dresses (true story) and hair being re-tousled and moussified into submission. In the end though, it’s almost always worth it!
(Behind the scenes photo by: Bela Coto)
And so, behold, our Dhaka Collection from Nepal! It was a collection that was inspired by the notion of being dressed up, not made up. There’s a clear distinction for these two things in today’s time. We want to be polished, but not overly done. We’re not (and not trying to be) a high-end, luxury market brand. We're trying to be fun, mostly casual, functional, responsible and affordable. And we’re here to laugh at ourselves when we get in wrong. But I think we really did get it right on this collection!
Meet Manish, the manager of the sewing center in Nepal known as Kingdom Hope Garments (KHG) that we collaborate with to create our Nepal collections.
Manish came by this job unexpectedly. The previous facility manager was threatened so much by the local traffickers, he had to flee the country – leaving Manish in charge. You see local traffickers are volatile towards any individual or organization that interferes with their work, or worse, their workers. They will go to terrifying lengths to ensure those who are trying to help remedy the trafficking problem in Nepal are threatened or harmed. Therefore, we do not want to disclose any further personal information about Manish as we want to ensure his safety in Nepal.
What we can share with you is that Manish is a cheerful and resourceful man. We have had many questions and challenges as we try and source in a new country with a new partner and he has navigated them all. Without the opportunity to travel to meet everyone in KHG yet, we have had to rely on his sourcing prowess and sense of style in helping us obtain the materials we need in order to create a collection. We have shared several late night Facebook sessions with Manish selecting fabrics from the market as he virtually shops with us!
Manish has already gone to great lengths to ensure we create pieces that we not only love, but that we know will sell in the American market. For example, one time in the weeeee hours of the morning we could not find any real Dhaka that we liked through our virtual shopping. Real Dhaka is woven on both sides by hand and exudes all the vibrancy and colors of the individual threads it’s composed of.
Printed Dhaka however is now more common in the marketplace in Nepal, because it’s cheaper and easier to produce than real Dhaka. Alas, it is only printed on one side, and to us, not as beautiful. Instead of giving up on the search and asking us to settle, without telling us, Manish hopped on a plane and started shopping in a market in the next city!
Manish is a leader not only at KHG, but within his community. At KHG, he is a sound businessman who looks for operational flaws and system efficiencies. He keeps production smooth, seamless and on time. He is our lead correspondent on all communication with the group and helps determine pricing that is fair for both the sewing center and their clients.
In his community, it’s not easy to stand up for something that could risk you and your family’s lives. With his level of talent and social acumen, he could easily work in another industry. But to be adamantly and publicly against the trafficking problems that exist within Nepal is brave, to say the least. We honor him for this and we know the women at the sewing center do to.