Shop, eat, trash, repeat. In a world where humans are constantly depleting our planet's resources, one lady hopes to start a movement towards sustainability for the fashion minded. Some might even call her Dauntless.
Colombian designer and Founder of Dauntless, Paula Maldonado has always been obsessed with leather jackets. “I own almost every color: pink, yellow, brown, black, you name it!” The idea to enter the jacket space came about due to the garment’s flexibility to be paired with both a formal or casual look, and to be honest, who doesn't own a good leather jacket these days?
“Our mission is to bring affordable and socially conscious fashion to the masses, through high-end designs, top quality materials and a well-tailored fit for fashion-forward consumers.”
With a background in Industrial Design and Technology from Parsons in New York, Paula’s past work experience was working in the global luxury market and with creative agencies. She has had a passion for sustainability and authenticity. Having never touched a needle in her life, Paula’s life as a fashion designer emerged as a reaction to what she witnessed. “Originally I wasn't into fashion because my best friend (unfortunately, not RADICHE) was enrolled in the Parsons’ fashion program and I saw her suffer with deadlines, needles, and sleepless nights so I didn’t want to go down that path.”
“My goal is not to be in Fashion Week. It is to create a philosophy around socially conscious fashion.”
During Paula’s freshman year in college, she got to be a lucky girl and attend fashion week with her sister in Bryant Park (yeah, back then it was held in Bryant Park!). “I saw PETA outside the show with images displaying how animals were being used in the industry and was traumatized.” As an animal rescue fanatic, she couldn't digest the information and knew that something needed to change. “I felt that if it weren't me, then who?” Unable to shake away her experience, Paula quit her luxury market job and entered the world of fashion.
“My jackets don’t look like plastic. People always touch it and ask what kind of leather it is, but its faux leather.”
Paula tells us how “people don’t really know the difference when it comes to clothing, which is the most shocking thing. So why use materials that support animal cruelty and add more waste to our environment?” She choose to start with jackets since they are a staple product and seasonless. “Most of the jackets created have different linings since we reuse faux silk.” On a hunt for ethically sourced and animal-friendly resources, Paula came across materials from Japan and Italy. Her advice: don’t order too much inventory before you launch.
Boom, in September of 2015, Dauntless hit the market. To spread the word, Paula created an Indiegogo campaign to help raise funds. “I think I launched the crowdfunding campaign at the right moment. I raised $3,000 and people started talking about my brand.” Being cash poor, Paula looked towards friends to help her with Dauntless. “I had amazing photography friends who helped put my collection together.” They sent their images to Vogue and Dauntless became editor's pick for sustainable fashion. In addition to Vogue, Dauntless collaborated with our fellow Makers from the Pop Up Mob to do a pop-up event with Nobi 67 in Miami (yayee girls!).
After launching the e-commerce website, “for two months I noticed that customers were browsing and adding items to their cart, but no one was checking out. Turns out, my payment system was not working and the company did not inform me. I can’t imagine the amount of business I must have lost without knowing it.”
Being a one woman show, Paula also hired a blogger from Australia to help her with her social media. The problem was that by using this individual, her Instagram account now only targeted Australians. We “reckon” it was a rookie mistake but Paula eventually regained control and now manages the account herself.
Like most of us, Paula was looking for a mentor and found guidance through her friend who worked in private equity. “He had no idea about fashion but would constantly call me up to ask what he should wear. He really helped me learn how to make the company worth something and how to add value. Initially, I wanted a portion of my sale proceeds to go to a charity organization; however, he told me to focus on building the company first, generating enough profit and then giving back to the society.”
- Think of money last
- Money will eventually come
- You have to spend money to make money
- In order to make a change, you have to be selfish in the beginning so that you can make a larger impact in the future
So what plans does the future hold for Dauntless? Paula hopes to incorporate recycled bottles into her garments. “The cost is too high for me right now, but this is something I would like to do very soon.” Dauntless is also going to be sold in stores in Mexico City in the next few months. For those avid pet lover shoppers, the limited edition Minka Moto jacket is up for grabs. Mention promo code: radiche for a 10% discount + free shipping (typical jacket is priced between $195 to $295).
Looking to join her team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you in touch.
Photo courtesy of Dauntless.