Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Karen & Tanya Lee, Founders of LEZE The Label, located in Vancouver, BC, CA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Creators of comfortable living through recycled workwear that feel like PJs. LEZE is on a mission to motivate women to find freedom in their career journeys, so 2% of monthly net sales are donated to a personal cause nominated by our community with a focus on BIPOC women and underprivileged folks.
Tell us about yourself
In 2018, Tanya called Karen after feeling inspired by her shameless tendencies to wear Superman PJs in public. "What if we could create comfortable work pants for women that were recycled and looked presentable?" After years of purchasing stiff and expensive workwear, the two best decided to turn waste into sustainable fashion as a vehicle to pursue comfort every day — a feeling we hope to instill in every woman no matter where they are.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Looking back, we've hit milestones that we never dreamed of reaching. Getting onto Oprah's Favourite Things, recycling 14,190lbs of abandoned fishing nets, or donating over $20K to our community fund. But behind every success, there was a challenge to go with it. Our factories have burned or shut down, airlines have lost our shipments, and our warehouse has flooded. In the past, we would've lost our minds. But recently, we learned how to rest. We focussed on what was solely in our control and fiercely protected our boundaries. We made space to laugh and cry. So our biggest accomplishment as founders is being able to close our laptops at the end of the day and confidently say, "We've done enough."
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Staying in our lane. Sometimes, we can get caught up scrolling on Instagram, seeing what other brands are doing, and wondering why we aren't there yet. Then we can start feeling like we're 'behind' and step out of our pace of grace. So we must be very mindful of what we're consuming, so we don't accidentally trade our responsibility to help our community with the burden of comparison.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Create with purpose - Never create with the purpose of making money. It's not sustainable. Get clear on your unique value proposition and why people should buy into your mission - notice how I didn't say product? Because people don't buy your stuff but buy into what you believe in.
- Don't wait for perfection - Your first product will not be perfect — and that's okay. The trajectory of your product's viability and whether it addresses people's problems will change over time. The only way you will iterate, learn, and improve comes from real people's feedback.
- Ask for help - Whatever you don't know, somebody out there does. Humble yourself to how little you know, and have the willingness to learn. Do your market research, and don't rely on just what you think is going to work. Data is king!