Passion and determination is what was the launch pad for fashion brand founder Sandra Winter. I sat down with the rising name in the fashion industry to learn more about where she began her career and her plans for her self named fashioned fashion brand 'Sandra Winter the Label'.
Sandra, for those who might not have come across your brand before, how would you describe Sandra Winter the label?
There is more to Sandra Winter the Label than meets the eye. Besides providing unique, classy, and sustainable pieces, it is about building a strong community among women while also rooting its mission to help build a more sustainable planet. In order for this to prosper, I heavily focus on transparency within my brand. Customers know where they are getting their clothes from, how it’s being made, and who is making them. Fast fashion is an issue that needs to be taken more seriously as it is literally ruining our earth. As I hand make all the pieces for SWTL, I make sure I bring my customers along with me to show them the beginning process from picking fabric to packing the order on my social media. Transparency means also connecting with my customers on a deeper level. I want to make sure my customers are not supporting just an average brand, but a face behind it. I make it known that my customers can start an open conversation with me through social media from questions about my brand to intimate yet touching talks. I want them not only to feel special when wearing my clothes and also when talking to me. I feel I have made it when I am making a difference in women’s lives while also caring for this planet.
What was the reason behind you launching your own brand?
From putting on mini fashion shows when I was young, I knew launching my own clothing brand was my true passion at an early age. I’ve always had a passion for creating clothing and I knew it is my calling in life. I applied to study in the best fashion school in Germany but was declined.
After this setback, I felt hopeless in pursuing my dreams of becoming a designer and moved to Australia to try to find another calling. I found interest in being a flight attendant and was on my way to start my job but suddenly was laid off as the pandemic hit.
When I was forced to be home from the pandemic, I started to make clothes again for fun and would put them up for sale on my social media. I began to get a lot of requests to make certain tops and blouses for friends. It then hit me that my craft is getting a lot of praise and recognition and it was finally time to start pursuing my dream. I believe everything happens for a reason, and the pandemic made me realize that life is too short to not go after my dreams. I did not want to regret not at least trying to start my own label.
When you decided to launch Sandra Winter the label, where did you begin?
Before I had the urge to start making clothing again for fun, I would scroll through my phone to find clothes that were my style but also sustainable. It was a struggle though and I knew this was a problem for other girls who want a classy, modern style but also made with the safety of the earth in mind. With the sewing machine and my passion for my craft, I began sewing and created a few dresses. I decided, why not make money from this, and put it up on Instagram for my friends to purchase and from there I began to get a lot of positive feedback and more and more requests came in to continue making these pieces. I quickly started to add labels to my pieces and all of the sudden I woke up with a whole business. I couldn’t be happier how I got there. Sometimes coming out of your comfort zone forces you to try something you always dreamed about.
What would you say was one of the toughest parts of launching your own label?
My biggest fear was having the mindset of failing. I think this is the biggest issue all entrepreneurs face. This mindset causes a person to shelter themselves and not even take action to pursue their dreams. But, I would say when you have the passion towards your craft you start working on it, you realize the only one you’re competing against is yourself. Day in and day out you start to develop an obsession and the feeling starts to become fulfilling. So I would say the toughest part was getting out of this comfort zone of just dreaming about how amazing it would be to own my own label to actually doing it. As I previously mentioned, everything happens for a reason. Having to be rejected to a fashion school, going to Australia, finding interest in being a flight attendant to being laid off, to finally pursue my passion has been a rollercoaster but in the end I know this is really meant for me.
Naming the brand after yourself is always a big decision, as people are now just buying garments you've designed. They're now buying garments with your name on. Why did you decide to name the brand after yourself?
At the beginning stages of my brand I had a different name in mind and hesitated using my own name. I was planning to keep it a secret until it would be successful enough for me to be comfortable sharing who is behind the brand. But then I thought if I don’t believe in myself and my brand no one else will so I stamped my name on my pieces. This also helps with the transparency aspect of my brand that I preach. Having a face to my brand, I believe will build trust. Having my name on my brand gives me a proud feeling for what I put out and what my brand stands for which I sign for with each garment.
When it comes to designing the new garments / collections where do you begin?
I start by selecting fabric that matches the theme of my aesthetic. With my signature top Psyche, for instance, I saw the print first and was able to create a vision of the pieces just by looking at it. I then begin to make mood boards to organize my ideas on what would look the best and then start designing. I get ahead of myself sometimes with the design process because there are so many things I want to create but am limited as I am the only one manufacturing the pieces.
Do you find you have repetitive processes when it comes to designing or are you finding yourself changing your process?
Not at all sometimes I research the fabric first but sometimes I see an outfit or dress and have instant inspiration. When this is the case, I then head to my favourite local fabric store to find similar fabric to create a sample. Most of the time I wear samples when I go out and see what the reaction is like or post it on Instagram. I love to include my followers. There is something special about knowing they were a part of making a decision of a piece I want to put out for my collections. They have a feeling they are a part of my brand.
Producing each and every garment yourself, do you find yourself having a closer connection to the consumers?
Yes absolutely! This is a very important point for me and probably one of the hardest parts for me to let go of. My quality and fit are very important to me and with the option having it make to other and sending in the measurements it’s like having a personal designer and tailor at once delivered to your doorsteps the process to getting the finished garment is one of the parts I enjoy the most as I get to interact with the customer. I love when my customers tell me stories why they are purchasing my pieces or if they need it for a special occasion. It makes me feel like they trust me and would love to let me know which is rare.
You have made your brand ethically conscious and undertaken sustainable practices, how important do you think this is for a brand to do?
This is a very important question and maybe even the most important part of my business and also the reason why I started my label. I couldn’t find a brand that had all the values I looked for and be on trend at the same time. I love that my customer knows where the pieces come from and it makes each piece more enjoyable to wear. I can tell that my customers appreciate this a lot and I always wanted to be creative and put my vision out there but not harm anything or anyone in the process!
The whole world has been through a tough 18 months, how has the pandemic affected Sandra Winter the Label?
Honestly I can only say that it has been nothing but positive for me business wise. The pandemic forced me to get out of my comfort zone and start my Label. The pandemic also made people realise how important it is to invest in sustainable fashion. Everyone is basically forced to shop online so it was a perfect time for me to launch my online business. This pandemic has impacted so many lives and I would like to inspire others that in times of darkness you can turn it into moments of opportunity and growth.
What does the future for Sandra Winter the label Look Like?
This is the most exciting part about building my brand and what I look forward to. Scaling my business to make a name for myself in the fashion industry is my main goal. I want sustainable fashion to be more accessible for everyone and my brand to be the blueprint of it.
I plan to expand my sizing so that different body types are included. I would also like to expand to having a unisex collection. For this to take place I need to find an ethical manufacturer that aligns with values but also makes high quality garments which can be affordable at the same time. I would love to give all of my attention to the designing part as this is where my passion lies.
Growing and establishing a strong team working with me is something I’m looking forward to and probably one of my favourite parts of starting my brand. I get to work with people that have the same passion as me and work towards the same goals. I’m beyond happy with my team I have so far and looking forward to forming a solid one as my brand grows .
Like I did for my Secret Garden Collection in donating funds to prevent plastic and plant trees around the world, I hope to give back to the earth. The upcoming projects that I have in the store are made to do just that.
Is there anything you can tell us about any upcoming collections?
I can’t tell too much as I’m in the middle of the process at the moment and trying to figure out my next collection as I put a lot of pressure on myself. I have a lot of feedback I have to consider and want to make this collection right for everyone or as many people as possible as this is part of the process to grow, listening to your customers needs. My second drop will involve expansion of my sizing. I’m excited to see what me and my team come up with and I’m currently working very hard to drop something special.
Thank you for your time.
You can check out the full collection from Sandra Winter over at sandrawinterthelabel.com.