It's important for a brand to be more than just about selling clothes. Consumers are now searching for abrands that offer more, something that connects them to the brands, whether it be a ethical connection through the brands practises or the message the brand drives out their, womens fashion brand Zenzee is offering both. Using Eco-friendly materials to help push their women empowering message the brand is a popular one. We sat down with the owner - Sharon, to find out where Zenzee began and the inspirations behind the designs.
How would you describe Zenzee to those who might not have come across your brand?
We are a small, but mighty independent brand. We make artful, graphic, hand-dyed, small batch apparel and accessories for women. We care very much about our planet and make every effort to leave as light a footprint as we can. We love to collaborate, especially with other women-led brands. We're inspired by a desire for ladies to be part of the social conversation, we want our products to empower women and to do so with a cool vibe.
What was your inspiration behind launching Zenzee? Before I started Zenzee, I had a long, wonderful career as a graphic designer. I was lucky to bounce around and work in amazing cities such as New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Naturally, the type of design work I created shifted with the needs of where I was living. When my family moved to Park City, Utah—where I currently reside—I was primarily doing branding work for the outdoor product space and the desire to make my own creations overcame me. All the places I've lived, and the graphic nature of my style inform the fashion pieces we make at Zenzee. I launched my lifestyle brand Zenzee 4 years ago as a side hustle, but I'm happy to say that it's much more than a side thing now. I love leveraging my graphic design skills to make our pieces message-driven and hopefully more interesting. Design fuels my life and I enjoy making fashionable pieces that inspire a smile and add comfort to life’s crazy journey.
What was one of the most difficult challenges you faced when you first started out? Goodness! There have been so many challenges and I've learned so much along the way! One of the most traumatizing experiences of my work life was a partnership breakup. In retrospect it was probably super cliche but when it happened it felt like the worst thing ever. The footwear part of the business has always been challenging. We've had many trials and fails with footwear. It's really hard to make great shoes and getting the fit right is extremely difficult. Footwear is the most returned fashion item because no two feet are alike. Just as we were getting it right, the pandemic hit, factories closed indefinitely, and we were stuck with no product to sell for months. Let's talk about your designs and collections. Looking back right to your first collections. Where did you begin? We began with footwear. Our first collection was 6 styles of knit platform slipper shoes. #knithappens They were quite playful and very brightly designed. We had stripes, checks, skulls and a pair of foxes that people really loved. Then we moved on to platform sneakers and a denim slide that comes with a set of 6 velcro embroidered patches. So fun! Our latest collection offers 9 styles of statement pool slides. They are made with 100% recycled materials, and I think have a bit of a streetstyle vibe. We started to add clothing after the first year. I started with graphic tees and would occasionally do a small run of tie dyes just for fun. When the pandemic hit, and we were in lockdown I started mastering the art of hand-dyeing fabrics. We now have cool boyfriend tees, lounge sets and a whole line of hand-dyed cashmere separates and sweater sets. The cashmere pieces were a big hit so now we're busy adding new silhouettes such as dresses, crews, pants, shorts, caplets and scarves. For fall 2021 we're working on a cashmere basics line with embellishments such as tie-dye silk ruffles, fringe, feathers and patches. Additionally, we have a set of 3 shirt dresses with graphic pop details and a wonderful boxy flannel with bold graphics printed and patched on. #wearhappy
When designing your new collections now. Have your creative processes developed? I am thinking more holistically about the company and all the lines we carry. I love producing in small batches. We're creating pieces that work together so you can build a wardrobe of Zenzee separates season after season. I like to think that during the pandemic pause, we managed to elevate everything we make. I would say we matured. We work hard to make sure each piece has a uniqueness to it — a touch of something hand-done, reworked or embellished in some interesting way. What inspirations do you look towards when thinking of new designs? I look to trends in graphic design and photography, nature, organic places and spaces. We love to deconstruct and reconstruct and rough things up a bit. I'm so excited to reveal Fall 2021, there is a lot of newness coming!
What for you is the most important thing for a fashion brand to do? There are of course way too many important things to do but two driving inspirations for me are to be kind to the planet and to constantly iterate.
Do you think having a strong background in graphic design has helped you and put you in a strong position to start Zenzee? Absolutely. Having a long history of working with consumer brands, retailers, technology companies, startups of every stripe and hue, nonprofits, and community-based organizations―has given me well-rounded experience in so many realms. It's also my premise and the driving desire pushing me to create. I LOVE DESIGN and design is everywhere.
What would you say has been the most enjoyable moment for you in the whole brand owning process? When I have repeat sales from loyal customers. I know they love the brand when they get excited about the new things we're making and come to the studio to shop. There are one-of-a-kinds and a few treasures that aren't available on our website. How do you think the future of fashion looks? "Futures so bright I gotta wear shades!" Hah. Seriously though, I think the pandemic has reset fashion and the way the world consumes. No one really wants it to go back to 'normal'. We're all carefully figuring out how we're going to reinvent ourselves. It's an interesting time for small businesses and independent brands. Every day there are new online marketplaces popping up making it easier to connect with brands like Zenzee. As the world opens up, I hope more fresh opportunities for experiential shopping and discovery will continue to flourish. Shameless plug: Check Zenzee out on Wolf & Badger, we're thrilled to be part of their family. We hope to be instore in London and Soho this fall!!
Can you tell us anything about any upcoming collections?
Soft, Cosy, Easy, Simple, Embellished, Graphic, Unique, coveted, loved & Happy Thank you for your time.
Thank you for featuring Zenzee! We're honored to be the cover story.
You can shop the latest collections from Zenzee over at www.shopzenzee.com