We had the good fortune of connecting with Ruby Sinclair and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ruby, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I grew up to nutty antique-dealer parents, so I’ve been exposed to vintage and secondhand since birth and would consider myself somewhat of an expert. Recently, people have become more aware of the fashion industry’s impact on the environment, especially as it’s only gotten worse and worse and worse since the 1970s. After graduating with a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship from London College of Fashion (2017), I wanted to start an eco-friendly brand, but simultaneously was horrified by all the greenwashing (aka misleading or exaggerated information in attempt to market “eco-friendly” products that often aren’t eco-friendly at all) happening in fashion, with ‘sustainable’ brands often pushing ‘organic cotton’ and other fabrics that are only minimally better than the norm.
I was drawn to the idea of upcycling, where we wouldn’t have to research or do anything to know that there’s zero environmental impact (minus postage, added zippers, etc.). I had the idea to create womenswear out of vintage fabric remnants, combining my newfound love of upcycling and my comfort zone of vintage <3
Because of my upbringing, I’ve inherited and cultivated relationships with antique suppliers, flea market owners, eccentric grandmas, and just plain hoarders, who I buy gorgeous old fabric remnants from. This supply chain is super unconventional and requires my life-long expertise, and a lot of luck, but basically I’m just really really good at shopping. Once I found my seamstress, the girl of the earth brand was born!
What should our readers know about your business?
Each piece from our womenswear line is made of vintage fabric remnants dating 1930-1999. This means a few things.
Firstly, every piece has zero impact on the environment (and it’s also ethically made in New York by one single seamstress, Cici).
Secondly, the fabrics’ kitschy, psychadelic, and newwave prints are super unique and so different from anything you find today.
Lastly, every piece is what I like to call “few-of-a-kind™”. I’ve had a lifelong issue with wearing the same thing as others, even as a child. When sourcing fabrics, sometimes I find an entire bolt (roll), or sometimes just one remaining meter. The inherent scarcity of every fabric remnant means we can cut/sew a maximum of 10 identical units (sometimes as little as 1). I love the individuality of girl of the earth pieces, especially in a world of “it bags” and Instagram-fueled macro-trends. On girloftheearth.com, I call our pieces “few-of-a-kind” and often say “avoid matching strangers” 🙂
When I started, no other brand was doing this, and the time-intensive business model is a huge barrier to entry. Every step in the process is different from traditional fashion. I am always spending way too much time negotiating prices, inspecting fabrics’ condition, and giving my seamstress complex instructions about which remnants are for which styles. Furthermore, I now always use the same photographer (@nataliegrace.jpg) since she now fully comprehends the method-of-madness we use during photoshoots for few-of-a-kind pieves, taking only a few photos of an outfit and then moving on. It’s been an uphill battle to say the least, but I’m so proud and confident of the system I now in place. I feel like I’ve cracked the upcycling code!
My best advice for aspiring designers/entrepreneurs is don’t listen to anyone but yourself— people love to tell you their opinions, but to create your true vision you have to be authentically you (and work damn hard). Then it will all fall into place!
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?
I’m an NYC native & ex-Londoner who now lives between NYC & Copenhagen, so not sure which city to choose– but I’ll do Copenhagen since I’m currently there the most.
A weekend in July when the sun shines until 11pm and rises back up at 2am is best.
Friday morning start with coffee at Sonny Cafe, eat lunch outside at Reffen street markets, swim with wine during Happy Hour at La Bancina, check out Christiania, and then get dinner at my favourite restaurant Punk Royale (the chef Hampus is a good friend and he’s so brilliant, offering an affordable tasting menu of 20 mini dishes in an intimate but absolutely wild setting). Saturday rent a boat at Ophelia Plads. Boat along the canalas and then over to Trekronnor, a man-made island with a somewhat abandoned museum/historic fortress, and the best outdoor restaurant for Danish peel-and-eat shrimp. Later, eat dinner in the meatpacking district at Kodbyens Fiskebar or Restaurant Gorila. Sunday, head over to my home neighborhood of Norrebro for an iced latte at Gavlan. Explore the hipster area’s Sunday markets, boutiques, galeries, and famous cemetery. Take a walk along Copenhagen’s famous man-made lakes, and then get a glass of orange wine at Pompette (the best natural wine bar), or a gin tonic at Kind of Blue (a CPH institution run by eccentric Klaus!). End the weekend with a burger at Gasoline Grill and head to the airport 🙂 Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There’s no doubt I have to thank my dad for his original $500 investment in girl of the earth, coming up with the name, and his continuous faith believing in every little decision I make.
All photos taken by @nataliegrace.jpg