Locally made, eco friendly, stylish and most importantly, comfortable! For this Homegrown Business post we spoke with Kristi Soomer, founder of the forward thinking Toronto based clothing company, Encircled.
What is your brand called and what do you make?
My brand is called Encircled and we make effortlessly stylish, high quality, comfy clothing in a sustainable and ethical way. We compromise nothing, so our customers can truly have a wardrobe that does it all. Encircled is proud to be a sustainable B.Corp and we are also OEKO-TEX(R) 100 Certified, meaning that no harmful substances are used to make our clothing, just sustainably sourced, ultra-soft fabrics and a whole lot of love.
When did you launch?
Encircled began in late 2012 with the launch of our innovative, 8-in-1 Chrysalis Cardi. It’s a scarf/dress/top that can be worn eight various ways! I ran the business as a side-hustle at the same time that I was fully employed. In 2014, I decided to take the leap and quit my day job and that year, Encircled became formally incorporated as a business.
What are some of the things that differentiate you from the competition?
One of the biggest differentiators between us and other clothing brands is that we focus on quality over quantity. The average fast fashion brand launches over 3,600 new styles per month, whereas we consider ourselves a slow fashion brand and launch usually 1-2 pieces per month. Each piece is designed to be timeless, fit beautifully, high quality, flattering, versatile and most importantly comfortable.
Secondly, our supply chain is very unique. One hundred percent of our clothing is made locally in Toronto, Canada. Less than 5% of clothing worn in Canada is made here. Third, we focus on sustainable blends of fabric that deliver both on their environmental promises but are also long lasting, high quality and comfy. Finally, Encircled is all direct to consumer, retailed exclusively online via eCommerce.
Where is it made? What materials do you use?
As mentioned, our local production is part of what makes us unique. All of our six family-owned garment factories are located within 75km of our studio in Toronto. We have amazing relationships with each manufacturer and they each produce high-quality garments. It also allows us to be more agile as a small brand, and produce in season and relatively close to our demand, so that we’re not overproducing product that might end up in a landfill. Our core materials include Tencel, Modal, Bamboo, Organic Cotton, Linen and Merino Wool.
Who is your target audience?
Our target customer is a high achieving individual who loves healthy eating, travel, experiences over things, and embraces style in a very functional concept. We’re not serving the Vogue reader, our customers are interested in feeling put together, but they also don’t want to give up comfort as it impacts their ability to move through life with ease. They’re interested in minimalism, the environment, protection of animals and human rights. They want to support brands that have a mission at the heart of what they do.
Who are some of your fashion influences?
I’m influenced heavily by athletic wear. I love the comfort of workout gear. My experience in the corporate world for 10+ years prior to starting Encircled reminded me that comfort is often sacrificed for style in work wardrobes. I love the idea of taking a product that isn’t what it seems, and giving it a twist so that it’s more versatile, and more wearable. I believe the most sustainable thing people can do is wear the clothing they have in their closet more often. For example, our bestselling Dressy Sweatpants are made from a luxurious blend of fabric that *feels* like sweatpants but looks dressy. The design is chic and edgy, making them basically the perfect pant that our customer can wear without compromising on style, comfort or sustainability. You can dress them up, or dress them down – so many options. Many customers wear them every day!
Where can we purchase your brand?
Our clothes are available on www.encircled.ca
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto fashion brand or designer that you like?
One of my close entrepreneurial friends is Nadine Woods. She makes lingerie for real life. Her brand, Mayana Geneviere is also 100% made in Toronto at her own factory and designed to mesh comfort and luxury. www.mayanageneviere.com.