SPOTLIGHT: KATIE ROACH OF SISTER KATIE
Tell us about yourself. What led you to create Sister Katie?
My name is Katie Roach and I am the founder of Sister Katie. Sister Katie is a women’s ready-to-wear company based in New York. Our goal at Sister Katie is to create comfortable clothes to live in - clothes you never want to take off, the clothes in your closet you always reach for. I started the company at my dining room table in in late 2017. I was coming off a handful of years in a career in advertising that left me less than inspired. With no background in fashion, except a keen and (and I like to call it) passionate interest in my own wardrobe, I was certainly taking a leap of faith but I just knew in my gut I had to go for it. I also am the mother of 2 young kids. I launched the business when my older child was just a few months old. Ever since, I've been in a state of perpetual motion, learning how to run a business and be a mother at the same time and it’s been an absolutely insane and wonderful (and a million other descriptors) whirlwind. We’re only just beginning!
What or who has been your largest inspiration for the brand? Does it shift with each collection?
Big picture, everything I do is for my family. My kids, husband, siblings and parents inspire me every day to do what I do and their support is what has allowed me to continue doing it. In terms of the brand, I find inspiration in every nook and cranny of my life. Soft, neutral colors and textures found in nature, beautiful interiors, visual art, people watching (I looooove people watching), my kid’s arts and crafts projects, etc. Our collections are inspired by everyone from characters in television and film to iconic real women we all know and love, to others we pass on the street. I love to tell stories through our clothes and to design pieces that will evoke a sense of nostalgia. Historically, I’ve had a different cast of characters or muses per collection, some trickle over from collection to collection. It really just depends on where my head is at and what is inspiring me at that time - nothing is overly planned out if I’m telling the total truth.
What is the inspiration for your latest collection?
Our new collection is inspired by 90s dressing. Think: model off-duty casual meets minimal movie premiere sophistication. All of the pieces are designed to be both stylish and simple. They are created with a materials-first philosophy. This collection brings luxury to your every day dressing whether you’re staying in or going out.
As a mother with a #babyintern, do you see yourself continuing to expand on your baby collection? What is next for the brand?
I dipped my toes into children’s clothes a few years ago. My kid’s still wear the pieces on a weekly basis. It was so fun and SO cute. There aren’t any plans to do more as I’m currently pretty laser focused on womenswear — but never say never!
Tell us about your hand me downs initiative. What inspired you to add this to your brand and how does it work? How do you prioritize sustainability when it comes to sister Katie?
It has been important to me from the get go that we work to make our full process as sustainable as possible. It is no secret that the fashion industry has a significant environmental impact, and I am committed to thoughtfully doing my part to evaluate and improve upon how we contribute. When you receive your orders from us, you will notice that we ship with very minimal fluff. Our shipping packaging is compostable, and we do not include unnecessary wrapping, baggies, tags, etc. We send you the bare minimum since we know everything else just ends up in the trash! The poly bags that your clothes arrive in (inside of your shipping package) are the original bags utilized by our factories - they are necessary to keep your items from getting damaged in transit and maintain the integrity of the garment before it reaches you at home. We’ve recently upgraded to compostable polybags, a goal of ours that we’ve had since launching. Bigger picture, we keep our collections very small on purpose. We do not want to produce excess inventory from the onset. We keep the inventory small so that we are making things for people who actually want them. Last year, we launched our own peer-to-peer resale market called Hand Me Downs. The most sustainable and high impact decision we can make when choosing what we wear is to buy pre-loved and sustainably made clothing. Hand Me Downs allows customers to buy and sell pre-loved Sister Katie pieces on our website. By participating in the marketplace, our customers keep timeless Sister Katie pieces in circulation and out of the landfill - they also earn a little extra spending money. In general, I try to be very thoughtful about speaking about sustainability and to be honest, it makes me a bit nervous. Marketing jargon around sustainability has become so buzzy and overdone and the amount of greenwashing in the retail industry and beyond is a bit overwhelming and has resulted in a lot of mistrust. Beyond that, I am not an environmental expert. I am a designer who loves to create clothes and I am working hard to be thoughtful about how I do that. It’s not perfect but it is our goal to continue to learn and implement different ways that we can contribute in a positive way. Progress vs. perfection. We’re all in this together :)
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