Written by The Strategy
It’s time for the world to realize that the future is female. There are so many female entrepreneurs who inspire us and we wanted to know more about how they got their companies off the ground. Welcome to our series: The Future Is Female, where we sit down with inspiring female entrepreneurs and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how their companies operate.
In this edition of The Future is Female, we’d like for you to meet fellow Canadians, Ainsley Rose and Hannah Todd. The two are co-founders of the B.C.-based brand Londre Bodywear, a sustainability-focused, size-inclusive label.
As recent winners of the investment-based reality show, Dragon’s Den, Ainsley and Hannah formed a partnership with Michele Romanow to the tune of a $208,000 investment to start Londre.
With an incredible brand ethos and quality products to back it, we find the work Ainsley and Hannah do to be incredibly inspiring and we can’t wait for you to learn more about them and the brand they’ve created.
What made you start Londre?
Rewind to 2016, sitting on a beach in Sayulita, we found ourselves reflecting on the swim market and a few glaring holes within it. At the time, there were no brands using sustainable textiles for their pieces, and not only that but all marketing and most swimwear styles were geared towards a one dimensional type of woman, rather than showcasing the beauty in diversity. Given both of these perspectives we saw a huge gap in the market that wasn’t being filled and although we had no official experience in starting an apparel brand, felt inspired to challenge this void and dive head first into working on a solution.
How did you come up with the name and what inspires Londre the most?
We came up with the name “Londre” during a whirlwind trip to London, in the early stages of conceptualization. We typically feel the most inspired when on an adventure and this particular trip was one for the books. The name landed for us as it was a subtle nod to Hannah’s background in French (London in French is Londres), but more than that this trip was a reminder that life can change in an instant. So be bold, ask for what you want and never say no to a last minute adventure – these are values we carry with us each day at Londre.
What was the biggest struggle or hurdle when you first started?
One of the biggest struggles we faced when starting out was our lack of experience. We had no manufacturing contacts or fabric knowledge and this led to many hours of endless research as well as tons of trips to random fabric filled warehouses that could easily engulf you in too much textile. That being said, as difficult as it was, we now look back and see this time as incredibly formative and key in the creation of what we have today. Overtime we’ve learnt that having no experience or knowledge in an area can be your secret weapon in having a leg up on the competition because you’re coming at each problem with a fresh perspective. Never underestimate the power of fresh eyes and a strong will.
What did your career look like before you started Londre and how did you get to where you are today?
Co-founder Ainsley Rose, has been featured in BC’s Top 30 Under 30, and began her career as a fashion and wedding photographer getting her work on the pages and cover of magazines including British Vogue, Real Weddings and Martha Stewart. Ainsley’s sustainability activism first began at age 8, when she spoke to the city council about the need to retain the green belt behind her home in Vancouver, BC. Ainsley carried her keen eye through to Londre and now shoots all of their striking imagery as well as expertly directs all their creative.
Previous to Londre, Co-founder Hannah Todd was a yoga instructor who worked closely with people of all ages, but specifically with teens in sports to assist in not only their physical agility but mental focus and strength as well. Growing up in the Yukon, Hannah struggled with overcoming an eating disorder and learned that maintaining a clear mental focus is key to conquering societal pressures. This has led to Londre working to empower all women and never photoshopping their images.
Has there been a moment when you realized you were making it?
There have definitely been many mini-dance-move inducing moments along the way. Our first was when Kaitlyn Bristowe iconically posted in our suit multiple days in a row on a getaway to Hawaii. It was clear to us and her following that she was in love and not afraid to show it. A few other exciting moments include securing a deal on Canada’s Dragon’s Den with Michele Romanow and releasing our first ever collab with Sarah Nicole Landry, that had pieces selling out in minutes. These of course are the macro memories but what truly fuels our fire is seeing all the love from customers on a daily basis who feel so radiant in Londre that they feel inspired to post and tag us. We wouldn’t be here without all of them and we are endlessly grateful for their support.
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?
- As mentioned above, sometimes what you don’t know out of the gate can be your secret weapon in terms of a fresh new perspective and a leg up on your competition. Don’t let your (initial) lack of knowledge hold you back.
- Brace yourself for “no’s” or “naysayers”. Out of the gate you’ll be giving a lot of energy and likely won’t be receiving the same back. This can be one of the hardest hurdles to overcome, especially as a solo-preneur, but if you believe in your product and brand voice, stay the course. It will pay off in the long run.
- A “professional” doesn’t always have the right answers. You know your brand best, so listen to your gut and do your own research before moving forward with outsider advice.