How Laura Choi is Creating an Ethical Resort Collection Based on Travel, Value, and Sustainability
We recently had the opportunity to sit down and speak with the founder of Par en Par, a new sustainable women’s resort collection conceived out of NYC.
As we all know, starting a fashion line is not easy.
Being able to sit down and speak with Laura in a very open and honest way about what it took to get the brand off the ground was quite an interesting conversation.
Laura really knows merchandising and what it takes to create a collection. She understands the importance of truly understanding who her end consumer is, while also providing huge value. She recognized that there was something definitely lacking within the resort side of the fashion industry.
“Par en Par” which means “doors wide open” in Spanish is created not only with carefully sourced fabrics and sustainable weavers in India, but is designed with great intention.
ABOUT LAURA & PAR EN PAR
After working in the fashion industry for almost a decade, Laura began to reevaluate her career and what she really wanted in terms of making a contribution and doing something meaningful.
Her idea for Par en Par came from her love of travel.
“As Millennials, we are all valuing experiences more and more and traveling is a such a big part of that. When I saw what was being offered (within resort), as a consumer, I felt like there weren’t many essential travel pieces.
I love a good caftan. But I wanted something that doesn’t cost $300, dry-clean only with a bunch of neon pom-poms. And for something made of cotton, with a price tag north of $300, I just couldn’t understand.
So I wanted to create pieces that I could wear to the airport, straight to the beach or dessert. The concept really came from pure need of something I wanted for my own closet.
So the three main brand pillars are travel essentials but are also so versatile that you can wear in your everyday life as well. Secondly, the collection needed to be of value that makes sense for the consumer, so the average retail price is $178. And lastly, the collection needed to be at no cost to the environment. Stemming from observations at Warby Parker, I wanted to be a for-profit business that was scalable yet sustainable.”
GETTING IT MADE
Having mainly a merchandising background, Laura’s product development and design background is very minimal so sourcing a manufacturer was something she reached out to friends for help with.
After a post on Facebook proved to be quite successful with many friends reaching out to contacts she found herself on a plane to India only a short month after quitting her job!
With over a dozen meetings lined up with potential manufacturers, she finally met the ONE on her very last meeting of the two week trip in Delhi, India.
Turns out that this family owned factory in Delhi with a large facility happened to have a separate arm of the business focused on more sustainable consulting.
Long story short, Laura was to partner with this manufacturer due to her ability to work with smaller brands but also use the scale of the facility.
As a new designer, Laura’s journey actually seemed to flow pretty seamlessly. Having more of background on the merchandising side of the business she definitely struggled a bit with the product development side in terms of pattern making.
“Product development was definitely an area where I did not forecast spending enough time in. I thought, oh yeah it’ll probably take like $200 for samples. No… per style there is so much development that goes into it. That was a big learning lesson for me.
“Another thing I’ve been thinking about lately is being a sole founder can be difficult at times. Being a team of one, and trying to motivate myself. I feel like I’m driving my girlfriends crazy trying to get feedback. It’s been a good challenge to stay motivated, focused, clear and confident in my vision. I’ve never had to do this working for large teams, so it’s pretty frightening but also very rewarding. I know that I’m the only person standing in front of me and my goals”.
MANIFESTING SOMETHING CREATIVELY
“For the first time in my life, manifesting something creatively has become an addicting process. I remember having the photo shoot in my apartment and having these awesome creative people of 5-6 of us coming together.
It was such an inspiring team and just to sit there and watch something that was in your head happening in front of you and getting the good feedback was such a gratifying experience.
It’s closest to what I would call a “professional flow state”. People talk about flow in yoga, and before it happened it was just something in my head.
So it was a mix of having the right people around me and having that creative vision.”
A PIECE OF ADVICE
“I was doing a lot of reading when I was trying to think about what this brand means, and there’s a quote I found that will come across in some of my packaging which is ‘practice not doing and everything will fall into place’.
It’s a Taoist quote and when I read that, not only personally did it really strike me, but I read more into this concept of ‘not doing’, it’s called Wu-wei.
So when I read more about it, it’s really about going back to find the natural order and flow, and just riding it. Instead of fighting it and putting your own will on things.
So with this company in particular whenever I try to force like a timeline as important as it is to push, but I’ve tried to let go in the process.
To really trust and believe that it’s really going to work out and when looking at timeline it’s not life or death.
This is a total departure than how I’ve been in any other position professionally. It’s so ironic that now with my own thing I’m really trying to let things happen and not be in control of things.
I’m hoping that by going back to that quote and just riding the current, that everything will fall into place.
So just don’t fight it...go with the current.”
You can pre-order Par en Par here.
And check out the fabulous collection by scrolling below.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE