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Business with Purpose


Jun 2, 2021

My guest this week is Kristi Soomer, founder and CEO of Encircled, a line of innovative, sustainable and versatile women’s wear based in Toronto. She wanted to help women do more with less in their wardrobes. She launched her online store in 2012 and now has a studio in Toronto.

5:58 – Kristi 101

  • The brand started as a travel clothing line. Kristi came from a corporate career and never went to fashion school, but she wanted to make comfortable, stylish clothes.

7:41 – The beginning

  • She was packing for a yoga retreat in Costa Rica and didn’t know what to pack. She liked the concept of a piece of clothing that could be versatile and used many different ways.
  • She used a versatile scarf she had and improved it until she created her own prototype.

12:16 – Creating a brand

  • She started with a product instead of a brand and developed a brand that wrapped around her product.
  • She named her company Encircled because it made her think of her circle scarf.

14:51 – Ethical fashion

  • Kristi was ahead of the curve when it came to sustainable fashion, but some people didn’t understand why it mattered.
  • She says authenticity and integrity are really important to her, so she became curious about sustainable fashion and human rights in the fashion supply chain.

19:18 – Progress over perfection

  • Kristi says it’s impossible to shop perfectly, but you can find better brands, better fabrics and better options. Try to take incremental, small steps.
  • People expect her to be perfect and they criticize what she drives, but there’s a lot of grey area in sustainability.
  • She believes in progress over perfection.

29:23 – Turning point in her business

  • It was a hard decision to quit her career, and her family didn’t support her desire to be an entrepreneur.
  • She started seeing growth in the business in 2015. She began hiring people to help her, and she plans to have 20 employees this year. 

35:50 – On the horizon

  • She started a podcast, is doing interviews and started an email marketing course and goal setting course. She wants to help female entrepreneurs level up.
  • She wants to keep creating comfy, dressy clothes and expand product development and find new fabrics.

39:35 – Get to know you

  • Favorite meal? Hamburgers
  • Song she has to sing? Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”

FEATURED QUOTES

“Authenticity and integrity are really important to me.” – Kristi

“I became very curious and very interested in human rights in the fashion supply chain.” – Kristi

“There are very few women who ever surpass the million-dollar mark in revenue. We passed that in 2015 and continue to grow, and I want more women to be able to do that.” – Kristi

CONNECT WITH KRISTI: 

ABOUT KRISTI:

Kristi is the founder and CEO of Encircled. A line of innovative, sustainable and versatile womenswear based in Toronto and retailed exclusively online. A former management consultant who virtually lived in airports, Kristi started Encircled with the dream of helping women do more with less in their wardrobes. Frustrated with the lack of versatile and stylish travel clothing, she started designing it. With no fashion background and little capital, she launched her online store in 2012. Today, Encircled has a beautiful studio in the Junction Triangle area of Toronto, a team of 12, and makes all of its clothing within 35km of their studio.

Encircled has been featured in publications like FASHION magazine, NOW Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and Apartment Therapy. Encircled is also a certified B Corporation, and winner of the StartUp 50 Fastest Growing companies in Canada in 2018. In 2018, Kristi was named to the Clean50, a list honouring the top contributors to clean capitalism and positive environmental impact through business in Canada. Kristi holds a degree in Finance from the University of Western Ontario, and an MBA from Queen’s University. Learn more about Encircled at: www.encircled.ca.

Thank you to our partners of the show:

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I’d like to introduce you to Deux Mains. In French, Deux Mains means two hands. Why ‘two-hands’? Because everything they create is made by trained artisans who use their two hands to make their life better while crafting beautiful products.

Truly, this is a company that set out to change lives and make a positive impact in the world. It started when the founder, Julie, wanted to create dignified jobs in Haiti, a place she was growing to love, and that was exploding with creativity. She wanted to share this talent with the world.

Julie set up an educational program to train people with artisan skills and then went on to build a factory that operates on 100% solar energy. Deux Mains now employs more than 40 artisans that handcraft premium leather goods, jewelry and sandals. Their lives are forever changed by their craft.

What’s also cool is their products incorporate an eco-friendly twist, working with responsibly sourced materials and repurposed inner-tube and tires in their designs.

When you buy from Deux Mains, you get to be part of a movement that is making a difference in the world, while adding an incredibly well-made piece to your closet that supports conscious living!

You can discover their products online at deuxmains.com.