We had the good fortune of connecting with Desiree Buchanan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Desiree, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
My favorite quote that serves as the north star of everything I do is “progress, not perfection.” It’s an affirming reminder that most things in life aren’t a black and white –– easily this, or that. We’re human, and we’re working through our values one step at a time. I believe if we championed more of the progress we’re making within ourselves, our relationships, and communities, society as a whole would be in a much healthier mindset around achieving a greater good for planet and people. Especially owning and growing an inclusive and sustainable women’s clothing brand, I want to ensure we’re always spreading a message that’s encouraging and approachable for anyone who’s looking to lead a more sustainable life at whatever stage they’re at. Poplinen is welcoming, and our styles are committed to making women feel more than, not less than.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started out in life with a billion different dreams, but practically zero experience to achieve them. I don’t regret any of the paths I followed to get to where I am today because I see how they have all weaved together for the better. From my short stint as a student nurse to my time working in the editorial departments of some of the most renowned Conde Nast Magazines in the world, each step was a life-building experience that prepared me for the work I do today. Poplinen, an inclusive clothing brand for women offering earth-friendly essentials in premium fabrics, was a vision I chewed on for several years before I finally just gave it a shot. From the very beginning, I wanted to create a brand that offered comfortable clothing for all women that didn’t compromise on style. I believe Poplinen’s values are what sets the company apart from others. We’re very clear on being at the intersection of inclusivity, sustainability, and social responsibility by making every effort to utilize the brand as a vehicle for good in the lives of our customers and causes we support. For example, all our styles are made in sizes XS-3X, we donate 1% of every purchase to Step Up Women’s Network, and we work closely with the Downtown Women’s Center here in Los Angeles to make some of our goods and donate masks and shirting. I strongly believe a for profit business can engrain social good into their core business model at all times, and still be a healthy and profitable business over time. Starting your own company isn’t easy by any means, the things you think will be hard are definitely very hard, but there will be much harder things ahead you didn’t expect. However, it’s also the most rewarding path because you’re growing something very special and when others catch onto that vision and want to be a part of it, the experience is quite fulfilling and encouraging. Some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned are to 1. throw out your ego immediately because it’s going to take all or nothing. 2. Learn to fail fast and move on from something that isn’t working and don’t let it ruin you or the way you treat others 3. Welcome input and weigh it earnestly, but don’t let other decide for you on decisions you need to make. 4. Surround yourself by mentors, advisors, and experienced professionals who you respect and can trust to be a good sounding board as you navigate your new business. 5. Get real comfortable with your finances from the start. Don’t delay the inevitable around budgeting, and work that muscle as quickly as you can so you’re making sound financial decisions to grow and maintain a healthy company.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
What a time to be asking this question, with COVID in the air I feel a bit rusty in this department, but if we could wish it away for a week, here is where I would take them: Monday: Start the week off right with the breakfast of champions – Homestate breakfast tacos and coffee in Highland Park Tuesday: A hike or bike ride around Griffith Park because it’s one of my favorite things to do anytime of the day. There’s always something new to discover and it has some of the best views of LA. Wednesday: After visiting one of our partner factories to check-in on a new style being made, I’d probably want to take them to the Downtown Arts District scene for a delicious beer and sausage from Wurstkuche –– a staple in the neighborhood and hopefully will be around for a long time (they have veggie sausages too)! Thursday: A mid-week visit to Disneyland (not LA but certainly a must when near). I had an annual pass and love grabbing a dole whip while walking around people watching –– some of the best fashion / people watching happens here. Friday: Beach day works pretty much any day in Southern California, so we’d head over to Malibu and find a great spot to have a picnic right near the waves. Saturday: The Huntington Gardens is a great escape from the busyness of LA life and traffic. It’s a fun way to enjoy what’s blossoming and a perfect opportunity to have leisurely and long conversations without disruption. Sunday: Grab a morning coffee at the La Velo cart near the dog park at the Silverlake Reservoir and then take a brisk walk around the loop, followed by some well-deserved and tasty brunch at All Time brunch in Los Feliz.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am fortunate to have a powerful sisterhood of women in my life. These women have encouraged, supported, and entrusted me with their friendship and unconditional love, and I can’t express how vital that is for success. I couldn’t be here without these women –– individuals I met from high school to college, and throughout my career –– I’ve been so intentional to keep those friendships because sisterhood is sacred. I believe, as a woman, it’s so important to invest in the lives of the women around you, and to take the time to grow and maintain healthy friendships. It’s not about just networking with others to get to your goal (that’s not what I am talking about here). I am talking about going through the depths and heights of life with others and surrounding yourself with like-minded people you can trust to lift you up when times are hard (and vise-versa). We are built for this! Also, my husband Stephen deserves some major credit here. He’s always believed in me, and been there to help me break through any challenge or failures I’ve needed to overcome. Having a partner who understands your dreams and you can trust to consistently support you is such a gift. I am grateful to have him in my corner.
Daniel Curran – photographer brick jogger sweatpant/sweatshirt Michelle Mosqueda – photographer – event with women Kate Hollowell – girl in ivory top next to yellow plants