As a part of the Morning Lazziness series about empowering women who are encouraging and doing incredible things with their ideas in society, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kirsten Harris.
Eavolu is a premium loungewear brand prioritizing comfort and sustainability in all they do. The minimalistic designs integrate exercise and daily lifestyle, providing wardrobe must-haves for the modern woman. Each piece is designed, produced, and packaged on the West Coast. Made from sustainably sourced, “eco-luxe” fabrics, the garments are made to last and packaged in compostable materials. In addition to reducing their carbon footprint in all aspects of their business, Eavolu is committed to giving back to its community. The brand donates a portion of its profits to three different organizations supporting environmental sustainability, women and children experiencing homelessness, and women’s empowerment.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your fashion consultant story with us?
I have worked in the Active Apparel Industry for about 30 years. During my last position, I was able to “see behind the curtain” of about 200 Active brands. I found that each of these brands defined sustainability differently, as did their customers. I began to see the need for people stepping into sustainability roles with both power brands and start-ups to help guide them to become more sustainable. I had no interest in helping brands that just wanted to label their products “sustainable” but not wanting to put the time and resources into actually becoming sustainable. Sustainability is a journey and not a destination – there will always be ways to become more sustainable. I wanted to work with authentic brands who really cared about the future of our planet, no matter how much capital they could invest in taking this journey. As long as it is authentic, and a brand is willing to walk down the path to a better planet – I am willing to walk with them. Therefore, I started my own brand, Eavolu™ to lead by example.
When and how did it all begin?
I like to say that “I grew up at Nike”. This is where my career and passion for caring for both workers and the environment really began. It just grew from there. I was lucky to start my career in a company that had experienced some difficult life lessons but dealt with them with honesty and integrity.
What sparked your interest in fashion?
When I was in elementary school, I could just sit and sketch designs for hours.
What challenges did you face at the start of your consultation business?
I am an expert at marketing any product that I truly believe in – which I had been lucky enough to do. However, when it comes to marketing myself, I found that challenging. I soon realized that if I am going to show up for others authentically, I am going to do the same for myself. It was also one of the reasons for starting my own brand, Eavolu … I wanted to show the apparel industry that sustainability is possible, despite the size of your company, and that you can still make incredibly soft product that is sustainable. The fabric and garments are made locally in LA, and all of our packaging is compostable as well.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
Yes – I had set my company name, had website domains, etc. I then found out that it was going to be a Disney princess name … so, that was not a trademark battle I wanted to take on. Life has a way of working out. EarthFirst Consultants®, Wear Conscience Begins®; Eavolu™, Evolution of You™, actually describes my consulting business and our apparel brand much better.
Is it tough for a woman to survive in this industry? How did you overcome those panic attacks?
Hmmm…. I don’t see why it would be different for a woman than any other gender-identified person to start a business. We are all balancing so much in our lives right now … parents, kids, illness. There is never a “perfect” time to give it a try. You just need to trust your intuition and go for it with your eyes wide open. I made a lot of mistakes my first year. I was so used to a corporate net, so most of my connections were not ones that I could lean on for advice. I do believe that life works out the way it’s supposed to … so instead of thinking of my mistakes as failures, I learned from them and pressed on – it has truly been an amazing experience. I am incredibly grateful for the help and support of so many people.
Coming to the main part- has the pandemic affected your business, and what have you learned from it?
I started both of my businesses (EarthFirst Consultants® and Eavolu™) during the pandemic. I learned that regardless of pandemic or not – starting a business is going to be a lot of work, dedication and focusing on the results each day.
If you were not a fashion consultant, what would you want to be?
A forensic scientist.
Share your best 5 tips that you give to every fashion brand, and why?
- Build strong and long-term relationships with your supply chain. You will need them, and they will need you – you won’t know when, but it will happen, and it makes a huge difference.
- You can be sustainable. Depending on your financial situation, start small and just keep taking positive steps forward to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Have trust and transparency within your supply chain. You can make magic happen when everyone trusts each other and is authentic.
- Take the time to hire team members that fit with your companies’ culture … it will make everyone’s life much easier and coming to work a joy.
- Never “turn and burn” … relationships must be built to last to truly have great product and a great supply chain.
What makes you different from other Fashion Consultant Agencies?
I focus on sustainability and improving the sustainability of apparel brands, mills, and garment manufacturers in an authentic way, regardless of the capital they have to spend. Every step (or carbon footprint) counts.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
That you have to know “everything”. Yes – I have 30 years in the industry, but I still rely on other experts and continue to learn daily. No one knows everything. Surround yourself with experts, and you will always be able to find a solution.
What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your fashion consultant business?
Time with family. Losing track of how many hours I have spent at my desk. Days go by so fast. I have to be diligent to turn-off my computer and be with my family.
What’s one quote you live by?
In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
Lastly, what do you think this world needs the most?
Kindness (and sustainability, of course)