11 May How Family Tragedy Led SixChel’s Dina Chavez to Launch a Sustainable Fashion Brand
When Texas-based designer Dina Chavez experienced a family tragedy – the loss of her only sister to cancer – it not only changed her life forever, it also changed the direction of her career.
As Dina explains below, she was inspired by her sister’s experience to shutter her eponymous label and rebuild from scratch. The result is SixChel, a capsule collection of ethically-made women’s apparel that incorporates vegan leather details and sustainable materials in its feminine, functional designs.
We caught up with Dina as she’s preparing to launch SixChel’s crowdfunding campaign – an experience many in the Spirit of 608 audience and closed Facebook Group can identify with.
Read on for her story, what she wished she known before she started out and her must-know tips for FEST founders making it happen.
SixChel’s Dina Chavez
Tell us a little about SixChel and what you’re creating that you don’t see out there on the market today.
SixChel is an ethical fashion brand for the modern woman. We create clothes with comfort, a chic style and using the finest sustainable fabrics and vegan leather. Our clothes give you a unique and stylish look.
When I first became aware of eco-friendly clothes, I realized there was not a lot of options for women who wanted to be stylish and also progressive, wearing things that move us towards a better fashion industry. The market mainly consisted of lounge wear or maxi skirts or shirts with cats on them, and this was when I knew that I could give women who were like me a different, more modern and chic option.
This isn’t your first brand. How did you know it was the right time to switch gears and recreate your brand? Was there any moment or conversation you had that really solidified it for you?
I had been working under my private label for a few years when I learned and experienced a few things about fabric. Seeing the dye stain my fingertips as well as hearing stories of breathing in the tiny fibers from the fabric had me concerned.
Around this same time, my older and only sister was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She was treated at MD Anderson in Houston, TX, where there is a vast supply of information on the causes and effects of toxins and pollutants that are linked to cancer. For anyone who has been afflicted by cancer, you know that you feel out of control and there is little a person can do. For me, a way to make a difference was through the only avenue I knew, fashion. It was then that I knew I had to re-brand and become a sustainable fashion brand that would be less harmful for people and our environment.
You’re in the midst of launching a new web site and a crowdfunding campaign that will go live this spring. For other women in your shoes – women trying to build new businesses but constantly faced with tons of tools, platforms and resources out there today – are there two or three (or whatever # you want) resources that have worked really well for you? What are they and how did you use them?
Mailchimp: I have really come to enjoy using Mailchimp for newsletters. They have pre-designed templates so, it is easy to design the newsletter of your choice. Mailchimp’s customer service andQ&A section is easy to read and navigate. Also, they have just started to create FB advertising services. I haven’t used those yet, but I am excited to check them out.
PressDope: Also being a FEST member of PressDope has truly helped wonders. I would be at a loss with PR preparation and social media without it. Through PressDope, I have learned a number of tips and techniques needed to have a good online presence for my brand.
Instapage: For those who do not have a website or who do not want to take the time to create one, a landing page is a great way to have an online presence without having a full ecommerce site. I am using Instapage right now while I set up my ecommerce store on Shopify. A great thing about Instapage is that it’s easy to navigate and has pre-designed layouts to choose from.
What book do you think every early stage business lady needs to go out and read right now?
You need a book that will inspire you to get the confidence to build your business. My dad gave me Relentless by Tim S. Grover, who has worked with world champion athletes and is the CEO of Attack Athletics. Grover trains athletes and business professionals with a “philosophy that teaches excellence, commitment, and the concept of ‘don’t think’.”
In reference of to having the mindset of a pro-basketball player, Grover says, “You just need to share their relentless drive for the end result. And let nothing stand in your way of achieving it.”
That’s something every founder needs to have in mind.
How do you keep going when the challenges of entrepreneurship get super tough?
Oddly enough, I felt this kind of challenge this past week, and what I decided to do was to take some time to take a step back from what I was doing. I had to go back to square one and re-iterate why I decided to have my own ethical and sustainable fashion brand. I had to remind myself of where I have been and where I am now. That helped me remember that I have been down before, and I can get back on track toward a successful launch.
It also helps to reach out to other entrepreneurs to help you get through your rut. Having a support group helps so much. It is vital to have a strong support group with you as you venture into entrepreneurship, especially when there are a lot of naysayers out there just waiting to tear you down. You must have a stable and strong base, and it helps to have supporters as a base with you.
You’re in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign. If you could do back and tell the pre-campaign you one thing, what would it be?
Start your PR Campaign earlier than your think you should start.
Anything else you’d like to share with the Spirit of 608 audience?
I went through Factory 45, and during that program, it was brought to our attention that creating a fashion brand that’s 100% sustainable and eco-friendly is likely impossible. The goal is to be as close to that as we can be given what’s available to us today.
SixChel is committed to improving our ethical and sustainable practices as we grow. We want our customers to not only feel good because they love how they look wearing SixChel, but we also want them to feel proud that through their purchases, they are making a positive impact on our world.
You can stay in touch with Dina by visiting her blog – and get ready to hear more from this FEST founder in an upcoming media coaching episode of the Spirit of 608 podcast. If you want to launch your sustainable apparel company with Factory45, you’re in luck. Applications are open May 17-31, 2017. Learn more and apply here.