If you’re a part of the Yellow community, you’re a creative woman who wants to use her passion, strengths, and influence to serve the greater good. A large component of spreading goodness in our daily lives includes making conscious decisions about what we purchase. A quote I’m very fond of is by educator and writer, Anna Lappé: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
The sweaters, dresses and pants we choose to buy reflects what we value and who we want to support. Hanna Baror-Padilla, founder of Sotela, a new clothing line, values how women want to feel (comfortable and confident), what fabrics are used (eco-friendly Modal and Tencel), and the well-being of who is making them (fairly-made in the USA). We chatted with Hanna about following her gut, launching a Kickstarter campaign, the misconceptions of ethical fashion and more.
**Tell us a little about yourself and your transition from your previous job to starting Sotela… **
I live in Los Angeles, California with my husband and two dogs and truly feel like I’m living my dream. Growing up, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I always had a knack for selling whether it was my school’s raffle tickets or my parent’s merchandise. Both of my parents had retail stores in Hollywood and my favorite weekend activity was talking with their customers.
During high school and college, I questioned my entrepreneurial career route and pursued other interests. I began college with a major in political science and graduated with a degree in global studies. After graduation, I went straight to graduate school and received my master’s degree in urban planning. Halfway through the program, I had a gut feeling that urban planning wasn’t for me, but pushed through and found a full-time job at a transportation agency. I probably lasted 2 months before that gnawing gut-feeling came back telling me this wasn’t for me.
I started a fashion blog in 2013, which ignited my creativity and love for clothing design. My blog quickly became a hub for ethical fashion and eco-conscious living (that global studies background really kicked in) and transformed my everyday living. I pledged to give up fast fashion, changed my eating habits, and became conscious of clothing production.
It wasn’t long before I started dreaming of my own clothing line that would be manufactured in the USA and with eco-friendly fabrics. After three long years at my urban planning job, I quit to pursue Sotela full-time.
Where did the name Sotela come from?
Sotela means sew fabric. The word ‘tela’ means fabric in Spanish and ‘so’ is a play on the word sew.
What sparked your interest in starting your own clothing line?
The initial spark for starting a clothing was from my blog, Gold Polka Dots. I saw the rise in ethical fashion, but knew there was something I could contribute. It wasn’t until last year, that I decided exactly what Sotela would be, which is clothing for the everyday woman. Our pieces span multiple sizes leaving room for our dynamic bodies to stretch and grow in the beautiful, natural ways they do.
Thank you!!! I still can’t believe that happened! Launching a Kickstarter campaign is one giant emotional rollercoaster. You feel the ups and downs tremendously because your entire project/business is dependent on you reaching your goal.
However, the biggest surprise was seeing people who I haven’t spoken to in years supporting the project. It was truly beautiful and made me feel so grateful for all the people I’ve met in my life.
What do most people not know about ethical and eco-conscious fashion?
Most people don’t know that it can actually save you money! One of the biggest complaints I hear about ethical and eco-conscious fashion are its high prices, but in the end you are spending less compared to fast fashion. Clothing from fast fashion stores have a very limited life, which means you have to buy more frequently. Which is better, buy frequently or buy once?
What are some things you’ve learned/advice you’d like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Celebrate the wins regardless how big or small. Being an entrepreneur is tough and can seem lonely, but being grateful for what you have is so important. During my Kickstarter campaign when I felt the most unsure about myself and my business, I started a gratitude journal to write in every morning. It helped to start the day with a grateful mindset instead of feeling doubtful or insecure.
My second piece of advice is to trust your gut! If you truly believe in what you are doing, then it will work. People and customers gravitate towards confidence and passion.
Any morning/evening rituals you swear by?
So I’m sure you’ve heard this one, but I swear by warm lemon water in the mornings. I wish I made going to the gym more of a routine, but I try going at least 3-4 times a week.
**What makes you feel most alive? **
Hands down, being outdoors. Nothing grounds me more than smelling the trees and being next to water. Thankfully, my husband feels the same so we spend most of our weekends outdoors. I need that connection to nature in order to reset my attitude and perspective for the week.
What’s next for Sotela?
I’m working on two new designs that will be launched in a couple of months. I’m so excited because it’s different than the dresses we are currently selling. I hope to continue releasing 1-2 new designs every couple months.