Hi! (Mentally inserting girl waving emoji hoping someday our desktop key boards will also have them)
1st, please allow us to say a proper THANK YOU as part of our very 1st blog post to all of you who has supported us and continue to do so. Yeah, you know who you are! This short yet meaningful journey of The Rare Creature launch has been nothing but roller coaster of emotions while trying to keep ourselves together also constantly trying not to lose it. We truly appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts. Your love and support means the world to us and we wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for you. So thanks again for your time and generosity!
2nd, we thought we'd talk about WHY we started this whole crazy thing because that is always the most important aspect in the way we do things around here. If we can't come up with a good "why", then we shouldn't be doing it. Also, since we have no money to hire a proper PR agency to get press. Below is our imitation interview if we also get to ask our own questions. Ha. Can we say win-win? Well it's just one question really. ;)
Q: So why did you start The Rare Creature?
A: Please brace yourself as this might be a long one in order to put it all into perspective. So it all started over three years ago when I quit my job at a certain designer boutique because I was just such a miserable mess. The work itself was not meaningful nor challenging in any way. I constantly had mental battles because I wanted to be good at my job whilst hating everything about it (I was the #1 sales person at the store during my time there).
Reasons why I hated my job during my tenure:
- Nothing to me was worth the price tag they put on it.
- I disliked 97% of the products I had to sell. (Children, do not try this at home. Selling things you dislike to people may scar you for life. jk. maybe)
- I did not feel like I helped anyone by convincing them to spend $$$$ amount of money on purchasing something no one really needs regardless how much money they had.
I felt like something inside of me died a little every single day, my time spent there each second was only in waiting for my next day off. But this is not to say I'm not grateful for the opportunity and the experience. Matter of fact my time at Gucci was invaluable for The Rare Creature today as I have learned so much. Everything happens for a reason, most of the time it's hard to see that while it's happening. "Things only make sense when you look back on it" and that I quote Steve Jobs.
A few months before I quit I started taking Fashion Design classes at a local college which led me to my 1st try at starting a organic cotton athleisure brand but with very little success. Especially after learning organic cotton, might seem like a smart choice, it can still take more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a t-shirt. Though I knew still I wanted to pursue sustainable fashion even every time I looked at it the bigger challenge it became. If you heaven't seen the movie "True Cost" please go watch it now- it will change your world.
Here are a few quick facts about the fashion industry:
- Fast fashion is the 2nd dirtiest industry after oil in terms of how much pollution it produces
- Clothes landfill accumulated to 13.1 million tons in 2011
- Sweatshop workers in Bangladesh earn about $2 a day which has earned the country to cheapest place to produce fast fashion
- Rena Plaza in Bangladesh building's collapse in 2013, killing more than 1,100 people
- In the 1960s, more than 95% of apparel bought in the US was made here
- In 2015 that number above went down to 3%
I knew I needed to learn more and do more to take on this massive task. In the year that I took off I applied for Parsons to further my education and experience about the design side. I bought countless books on up-cycling fashion, refashion, did online research on sustainable brands, went to fair trade conferences all trying to learn more about what is this mysterious sustainable fashion and why aren't more people doing it?!?! While I learnt some things but sustainable fashion was still a vague term and everyone seemed to have a different definition or how to go about it.
Like most things in life you have to do/experience them yourself to truly understand. For the years to come while at Parsons and thereafter I interned and freelanced at different fashion houses and worked with every material I can get my hands on. Little by little I learned knitwear creates almost no waste as things are knitted into shapes vs things are cut into shapes like your jeans/anything made from woven fabrics. Then the leftover scraps from cutting usually gets thrown away in the trash vs the left over yarns can always be knitted into something new! How exciting! We are finally getting somewhere. Thank you!
Then I figured YES! I will launch my own knitwear brand and sell my collection on Zady and then I'll be able to sleep at night again. Nope, not so fast. Sourcing was my next road block. While it didn't take too long to figure out I wanted to work with Alpaca fiber as it is the most luxurious and sustainable fiber out there. Where and who was going to make my collection became the problem. I thought I would produce everything in Peru as it is the home to the almighty alpacas and skilled knitters. I was not lucky enough to be paired with the perfect partner factory as they operated on a different time schedule, in addition to language barrier and quality issues. So I thought how can I bring manufactory back to the USA with charing things for $$$$ as the cost of living in the US is much higher which = the cost of labor is also much higher.
This is when the final light bulb that went off! WE can HAND KNIT everything ourselves! I grew up with my mom and grandma both knit, crochet and embroidery pretty much my entire childhood wardrobe. The very next day I went to a local yarn store here in the city searching for material. The warmth and kindness from the sales lady was something I never really experienced from the fashion industry. I was out of this world. I wanted to hug everyone at the store because now the world makes sense again.
I immediately fell in love with the knitting community and wanted desperately be part of this amazing culture.
Well, there you have it. The rest is history. This is how we started, 3 bloody years in the making of doing something that we are excited about and feeling extremely good/proud of. When a friend(customer) emails us or comment on our social media how much they like our stuff we just want to cry. Honestly, it has not been easy, but the most rewarding? You can bet on it.
Sorry for the super long 1st post, but to recap here's a short and sweet version of the why we do The Rare Creature:
- Our raw material - alpaca fiber is good for our body and alpacas are good for our planet
- Our designs are timeless with a modern edge. We choose colors that are neutral and versatile. By having a small selection of natural colors they require little to no dye (saving our planet more water and eliminating the use of unnecessary chemicals). So all these hand made heirloom pieces can last for generations to come and are always in style
- Our mill is one of the best Peruvian yarn producers with over 80 years of experience in working with the finest local alpaca breeders
- Everything is designed and hand knitted by us in house in New York
Bringing "Made in America" back
- By hand knitting our own clothes we are essentially all become part of the solution
Enhancing People's Lives
- Knitting is soooo goooood for you. Your mind, body and soul! Like yoga, but then you can wear it after. :)