Next up is a feature interview with Shobha Philips, the founder of Proclaim clothing. Proclaim seeks to promote the inclusion of all women in the fashion industry, regardless or size, shape, or color. On top of that, the brand tackles the issue of our global epidemic of plastic waste. Proclaim is made frmo 100% used and recycled plastic water bottles. Read on to learn more!
Kaila: How did you get your start in the fashion industry?
Shobha: My background was in business. I studied marketing in school and then I worked for several larger corporations before I decided to start my own business. So it took a few years of research, I was researching for a year and a half to two years before I launched the website for the fashion brand. Being an outsider it took a bit of additional time to pull together all the pieces to create the ethical supply chain, and put out a product that I could be proud of.
Kaila: That's awesome. How did you decide to start a fashion brand
Shobha: I started it because I couldn't find nude in my skin color, because the color for nude is usually a lighter beige color. And being an Indian woman it never matches my skin because there is always just like a white shirt, or kind of see-through tops and I never had a bra that I could wear. So I decided that I was going to do something about it, so I started researching the industry on how to make bras, and the different options out there that I can do it ethically and sustainably in order to launch Proclaim.
Kaila: I love that, and then everything is made in Los Angeles how does that work?
Shobha: I started the company in San Francisco back in 2017. For company growth, I had to move to LA because there's a more robust production scene here. The facilities in Downtown LA that I work with guarantee fair wages and ethical treatment of their workers. It's been really great and they are very transparent and they've been great to work with.
Kaila: So do you find clothing sizing being pretty limited, because I know you are very inclusive on size more than the average mainstream brands?
Shobha: Yes, and that's something that I am continuing to trying to work on. It's hard as a small-business just because you are always trying to meet minimum orders for each style, size, and color. So that's still something I would love to be able to get to, I would love to have a product that all of us can wear. But I do think it's definitely something that the industry as a whole need to work on.
Kaila: I read that your products were made from plastic bottles. How does that become fabric?
Shobha: Yes, the products are made from recycled plastic bottles. When you recycle a plastic bottle it comes to the facility, and it's cleaned and sanitized and then it's shredded into tiny millimeter-sized pallets. And then the pallets are heated and when it's heated they are kind of folded and stuffed into the fibers. And then those fibers are made into fabric which becomes the bra lining.
Kaila: Is it just in the liner of the bra or is it also in the fabric?
Shobha: It's the entire bra that has that fabric, so those fibers are mixed with all of the fabrics and then it became the fabric that I use. The first casing and the liner is all the fabric.
Kaila: That's amazing, I've never encountered this. Does it just feel like regular fabric?
Shobha: Yes, it feels like regular fabric but it's a different kind of soft, very stretchy and supportive at the same time. I think people always surprised when they feel it because when you hear it's made out of plastic bottles you picture something hard and uncomfortable but that's not the case.
Kaila: What are some of the challenges you face with starting the company?
Shobha: I think the entire process is challenging, but I would say that some of the bigger challenges were putting together the business model and the supply chain. As I mentioned just being a small business is hard, when you are a small player you don't really have a lot of pull. So it's kind of hard to find those right partners who will partner with you and help you grow and succeed. For the fabric and the components and for the cotton, I had to find partners that matched my values, and could work with me for the quantities that we are producing - that was super challenging. I think that's probably the biggest challenges that I had.
Kaila: I love the design of the bras, because I hate bras I find them so uncomfortable, and it looks more like a sports bra which is something I can tolerate.
Shobha: Actually there's a lot of people who don't like wearing bras, but they like Proclaim bras because they're so lightweight and its wire-free so it's pretty comfortable to wear.
Kaila: I don't know how anyone wears a wire bra all day long.
Shobha: I am on the same page with you. For me it's like no bra or my Proclaim bra.
Kaila: Yes, I try to just wear these little sticky things whenever I can get away with it. So what's next for the brand?
Shobha: There are so many items, like staple wardrobe items that are not available in inclusive nudes. We want to produce panties, slips, there are so many categories that we want to do. And then beyond that what really excites me about putting together this business, was putting together that ethical supply chain, so I could see the brand growing beyond underwear and intimates into other fashion categories as well that have that same - caring for the people and the environment that are affected by production of clothing.
Kaila: Do you have anything that you want to share?
Shobha: I guess I would love to hear more just about your brand, like what you are doing and how you guys started and what you do?
Kaila: We are more of a travel lifestyle brand. We just published a book called The 30-Day Travel Challenge, and it's based on a statistic that 42% of Americans believe that they can't afford to travel, which is such a huge number, we want to make travel accessible to as many people as possible. Also, we are woman focused on our blog - we not only feature travel but we feature lifestyle, and then we are starting to feature more sustainable and ethical travel and woman producers around the world.
Kaila: Where can everyone find you?