What inspired The Circle Collective?
One day we were on the phone talking about how hard it was to buy clothes for Emma [Lauren’s oldest daughter and Rachael’s niece]. None of the brands at an accessible price point were chic, and both of us hated that we had to spend so much time searching for clothing that work. We were both particularly concerned about sustainability and the fact that most of the clothing we were seeing was made in overseas factories under conditions we probably wouldn’t be happy about if we knew more of the details. All the organic cotton clothing was saw in the marketplace was dowdy and drab. So that night we decided we wanted to sell super chic, ethically made clothing in sets that were easy buy. And that weekend we started work on a mission statement.
What does ethical fashion mean to you?
Ethical fashion means that you know exactly how clothes are made. We have personally visited all of our suppliers. It also means they’re fair trade and sustainable. Our infant clothing is already 100% certified fair trade and organic, and we’re working towards that with our little girl collection.
Having traveled the world together both as children and adults, what was it about India that inspired you to make that the home of your new collection? We were both born overseas and lived in several different countries growing up, and Lauren lived in Singapore for four years recently (Emma was born there!), so traveling has always been just a part of our DNA, just what we do. We have been traveling to India since 2003 – it was the big trip Rachael took after she quit her first job out of law school. And we fell in love, particularly with the handblocked textiles – the colors, the gorgeous prints, and the craftsmanship. In total, we must have made nearly a dozen trips between us – and every time we go we come back with our luggage bursting at the seams. Hands down – the best shopping in the whole world.
Lauren, you are known for your infectious laugh – does your sister have it too? If not what would you say her signature trait is?
I wouldn’t say that her laugh is a signature trait....she’s better known for her very bad singing voice! And also for her knowledge—about everything. No matter what the topic—art, culture, fashion, politics...she knows about it and has an opinion.
Which one of you was the trouble maker? What is your first memory of getting into trouble together?
R: DEFINITELY Lauren. Although I got blamed for everything because I was the oldest.
L: Yes, I admit I am probably the trouble maker. I remember I was guilty of throwing Rachael’s most loved stuffed animal, Mousey, on the roof of our house. Mousey somehow survived and he’s part of Emma’s toy collection today (so we re-tell this story often)
How has working together impacted your relationship?
R: A respect for the different skill sets we both bring to the business. I am super analytical – so finance, legal, marketing, operations are all my thing. Lauren is really good at conceptualizing the brand and making sure everything we do – from the clothes to our Instagram posts – stay chic and stylish.
L: I never knew how committed and results oriented Rachael is. She is definitely the reason the website is live today. I’m more of a dreamer and come up with ideas and concepts —and she’s able to action on everything and make it happen.
LIGHTNING ROUND - What's in your Bag?
Lipstick or chapstick?
R: neither - I hate both! I am a religious user of Aquaphor and I am super sad because I’m trying to transition to all cruelty-free cosmetics and I have to give it up. If anyone has a good dupe – please let me know.
L: Lipstick. Its an instant pick me up!
Loose change or change purse?
R: Loose change for sure!
L: Loose change
Cookie crumbs or keep it clean?
R: cookie crumbs, I’m afraid to say.
L: cookie crumbs as well...and unfortunately it’s gotten worse having 2 kids around with grubby hands
Car keys or metro card?
R: Both! I am a city & country person.
L: Metrocard, except in summer where I trade it in for Citibike.
Book or tablet?
R: always, always, always a book! (Books are the great love of my life)
Essential oils or Advil?
R: someplace in the middle. I am a yoga/wellness/fitness person but really love some Western medicine.
L: Essential oils. I got really into the scent of Lemongrass when living in Asia. The scent is everywhere, and fills the lobbies of the chicest hotels. I drop into a diffuser for the most uplifting delicious smell. It ten times more powerful than a candle. Sunglasses or reading glasses?
R: Sunglasses for sure.
L: Sunglasses — it changes your look with every style. I have so many pairs. My current favorite is by Westward Leaning and I have lots of great oversized pairs from my days working at Dolce & Gabbana.
FILL IN THE BLANK!
The Salt the strap that is so me is...
R: The Bowie
L: the Benny
The dream bag I would pair it with is...
R :a vintage YSL bag from the '70s or '80s
L: Larone Artisans 'Wind Chaser' bag
The most essential thing in my bag is...
R: Aquaphor. see above – why can’t they stop testing on animals so I don’t have to give it up!! Can someone please tell me if Glossier balm dotcom is a good dupe?
L: Pacifiers, iphone, and a corporate card as I do a lot of entertaining (for my dayjob as a fashion publicist-- we work on The Circle Collective as a side project). The most embarrassing thing in my bag is...
R: Salt packets that have split open, making everything a grainy mess.
L: A broken up Baby Mum Mum
The most random thing in my bag is...
R: A FedEx bill for import duties on our last shipment of little girl clothes.
L: Currently some Barbie shoes that must have fall off Barbie when we were out to lunch that Emma stashed in my purse.
I always carry______ in case of emergencies.
R: Cash. I am old school. I have lost my ATM card and have no cash and it really stresses me out even though I barely use it.
L: a pacifier
Describe the inside of your bag in 5 words or less.
R: A mess that is stressing me out. (seven words, sorry!)
L: Messy. (I guess Rachael and I have the same bad habits!)
Meet Elsa Marie Collins, social impact strategist and co-founder of impactful US/Mexico border organization, This Is About Humanity. She also works to bolster causes like Latina empowerment through She Se Puede and voter registration with I am a Voter and the movement for Black lives with Harness, among others.
We chatted with this busy working mother about her experience growing up at the border, and how we can help make this world a better place for our children.