the two questions i get asked the most in my business life (don't get me started on the most common personal question!) is 'how long does it take to make a sweater?' and 'how did you start souchi?' finally, i have decided to start a series of designer spotlights so you can get to know the designers (mostly women!) behind the brands i choose to carry at my boutique, souchi. and, who better to start with than myself. hope you enjoy & find out something new about me or souchi.
1) when did you start souchi?
i started souchi in 1997. it was a few days after i graduated & one of my former teachers at the academy of art college, in san francisco, liked the sweater i was wearing and asked if i'd make some for her store. yes, i would & did.
2) what has been the hardest part in owning your business?
this is a very layered question so i'll answer it from a business perspective. i was approached to sell my sweaters right away & it snow balled to other stores wanting them. and, then traveling to nyc and more stores ordering. there was no time for a business plan or any idea of what direction i actually wanted to go in. it happened so fast that i just started designing, knitting & shipping my designs. yes, that was exciting and still makes me smile but i let the wave dictate my business for a very long time. and, i never took the time to set the pace or plan. this is not recommended but somehow it did work for me...mostly.
3) 25 years later what is the part of your business you love the most?
after all these years, i still love & crave making things. there was a long period of time where i was spending more time on 'business' things & less time on creative parts and i wasn't happy. when i made the decision to stop wholesaling it meant i could go back to the beginning and wake up & decide that day what i wanted to make. to not be focused on each new collection and if my 200 plus wholesale accounts were going to like it. it took all the pressure off and i could just be free to create.
4) what is your creative process for new designs and/or color choices?
wow, it hasn't really changed over the years. i have journals, post it's, scraps of paper with sketches (more scribbles) with notes everywhere. i'm inspired by film, magazines, street style, uniforms, textures....so i'm always writing, drawing & taking photos. sometimes i don't look at them again for a very long time. but, i keep the journals & post it's in drawers and boxes & refer back. sometimes it's not the right moment for an idea. as for color, i am not afraid. color makes me happy and neutrals make me feel cool. so you'll always have both options at souchi.
5) have you dictated souchi's style or has souchi dictated yours?
truth be told it's both! a pendulum that is constantly swinging. as a buyer, i love to push the envelope & want to try something new. i love fashion & styling. at 5'3 & 53 years old if i can figure out how to style it then anyone can! and, for souchi, i design for where i am in my life. am i wanting something more cozy? do i want a sexy sweater for a night out? during quarantine i was in aspen and spent a lot of time hiking, walking with jack and so cozy was important. but, not getting to wear all my pretty things and go to the store was sad. so, that's how i came up with the souchi sweat pants & creed hoodie. if i was going to be in sweats then they would be cool & in cashmere.
6) how has souchi evolved over the years?
wel, i was about to turn 28 when i started souchi and it was incredible time. i was living in san francisco & seeing live music, wearing vintage levis & crop sweaters (sound familiar?). then jeans went low and sweaters went long. it's an amazing thing to realize your customers have aged with you. i am often emailed about their 'favorite sweater' and how we can re-work it to this decade of their life. souchi & i are here for it. and, for the last 11 years i have been in the retail store working directly with the consumer. shopping is personal and it shows our vulnerabilities. learning what people love and dislike (i am no longer using the word hate) about their bodies and styling or designing pieces that make them happy, comfortable and confident with who they are at this stage of life. i love it.
7) with fashion moving towards more sustainability (thankfully!) how is souchi participating?
luckily, souchi has always leaned in that direction. we started small, grew & went back to small. i don't like waste so i use everything possible. scraps are used for gift wrappying, pom poms, fringe, stitching on sweaters...as little waste as possible.
8) what do you want your customers to know about you?
that i am grateful for them. so mani i have met over the years and i LOVE getting the emails or phone calls about their souchi stories: the first splurge post college for a souchi, a souchi wrap for their wedding, post grad school presents, anniversary present of a souchi sweater and cashmere undies. i am a lucky lady to have built a life i love from a cone of yarn. and, i know that it wouldn't be possible without all of you. i hope i continue to make things you will love.