Su of Father's Daughter Denim - Generations of Denim Done Right
If you follow along with our blog and Instagram you know slow fashion has been a big topic of conversation around here! We made it one of our goals in 2018 to be a powerful leader in the slow fashion movement for both the environment and humankind. We have been working overtime to find brands that are both female-owned and sustainably sourced to carry in our Dazey Lady Shop. And we're not talking smock dresses made of burlap, we're looking to curate only the cutest of course!
In the post below below I talk about my #SHOPSLOW2018 new year resolution! It's not going to be easy because I am far from perfect, but I'm so excited to give it a go and be a voice for such an important topic.
This is why we are so excited to have discovered Father's Daughter Denim and the incredible boss babe behind the brand, Su. I have been hard pressed to find a small female-owned jean brand that truly does denim right! Without extensive industry knowledge on washes, fits, and production, denim just doesn't feel the same as you find in the store. Many small companies I find producing jeans have stiff, thin fabrics, terrible fits, and cheap construction. Father's Daughter is the complete opposite, they make the DREAM JEANS! Su has some serious experience in the denim industry with heavy-hitter brands and this truly shows in her handcrafted products.
I discovered Father's Daughter as I was wondering around The Row in DTLA and stumbled upon their sample sale. I loved what I saw and Su and I got to chatting. I knew I found something special and asked right away if she was down to be carried in the Dazey Lady Shop. Turns out her office was just a few blocks from mine! We planned her full feature photoshoot then and there for the following week. It was thrilling to conduct serious business so off the cuff!
What's even better is the heartwarming story behind the brand. Denim is literally in her DNA. Father's Daughter was aptly named after the partnership of her and her father, a long time denim pattern-maker and specialist! She followed in his footsteps and then he took the leap alongside her when she was ready to start her own label. They proudly design and hand make everything from start to finish in their studio blocks from Biz Babez. Read all about her journey below and see photos from a-day-in-the-life as I shoot her in her studio and about town.
First off tell us a bit about your family’s background in denim!
I grew up around denim. My father was a denim pattern maker and there was a lot of protos in our house. He would bring his work home, or moonlight over the weekends. I met several designers during this time when premium denim was having its heyday.
Your story is amazing. I would love to hear about your experience in the denim world at a young age. What you saw and felt. What drew you to following in your fathers footsteps? What does denim mean to you?
During that time, denim was just something that was around, I had no idea I would get into it myself as a career. I was just this college girl who got to wear premium jeans. It was a luxury. When I was just about to graduate as a sociology major, and the economy tanked in 2008, my father suggested going to fashion school abroad.
So you attended a school in Paris. What school was it and what brought you there? What was your major?
It was ESMOD, and I did an accelerated program for international students. It was for nouvelle couture, so I made like these crazy architectural costumes. So far from denim and sportswear. It was fun to let my imagination go wild. But it's more interesting interacting with the public, making wearable pieces.
Girls considering college often ask me if I think it’s necessary, but I know everyone has their personal experience and opinions on it. Do you considering going to school an important step in your journey?
Hmmm, you know I'm kinda on the fence about that. I mean it's definitely helped me to get my foot in the door and having the confidence to flex my opinion, but I feel like everything else is what you learn on the job, a lot of just maturity to work as a team, and doing things efficiently.
So you worked at the very popular denim brand, AG jeans, for quite some time, six years right ? How did you go about landing such an epic gig?! Do you think your time working for another company gave you the experience you needed to start your own brand?
My father knows the family that owns and runs it. I met with the son of the owner, who became my creative director. Over the six years I had various positions at AG, which gave me experience developing my own brand. I think the nitty gritty details you learn on the job is essential. It almost has to be like second nature so that you can devote time to thinking bigger.
How long have you wanted to start a company of your own? What made you finally take the leap to do it?
Actually I'm not naturally a big dreamer, but I have an insatiable hunger for projects. I'd work on sketching ideas after work to satisfy that drive. One day, I realized I kinda hit the ceiling in terms of learning what I can from my regular job. Everything else would have been climbing the politics of work, which I didn't really have an appetite for.
What is Father’s Daughter and your mission behind the brand?
Initially it started as this humble project to make things I want to wear. It turns out that I was on the other side of a wave of big brands going overseas. That wave put a lot of contractors out of business this year. So the fact that we're here on the corner of 9th and Spring, became part of our identity as a local manufacturer. It's not easy, but the resources are here.
We loved touring your production facility and office. It’s amazing you do everything in-house! Tell us about your careful production process, we want to know all the love that goes into a pair of your jeans!
We get fabric from Japan, and my dad does the pattern on his computer, prints out the marker, spreads the fabric and cuts it. From there my mom organizes it and prepares the cuts for our sample maker. Our sample maker, overlocks and sews and bartacks the denim. Then I'll take it to a wash house, along with our wash standard. When we get this back, we trim and press, label and hangtag, pack and ship from our workshop.
When I think about the different processes, its crazy how we get it all done. We're hoping to grow so that we can hire a few more people that would make this process easier. Perhaps outgrow our office and work with other contractors.
What are all the responsibilities you have along with designing? How do you balance it all?
I'm responsible for all communication with customers, showroom, our team. I'm responsible also for the cash flow aspect of it, which can we a bit of a tight rope situation.
I work with multiple people with various talents, it's definitely a challenge to try to juggle my own work as well as directing people. I'm not a micromanager, but I could probably work on delegation.
I know you’ve been running your social media in order to grow your brand and foster direct sales. Would you say your company focus is on wholesale or direct to consumer? What are your tips for each?
Our company focuses on wholesale. I'd say until we can find someone with the same spirit and put a lot of effort into social media, direct to consumer will alway be secondary.
Ideally it's great for a company to have both, wholesale is less risky, and builds a client list for predicting future sales numbers. Direct sales is more profitable but requires constantly fostering community. I.E. a lot of time.
At the moment our priority is in the product, but would love to eventually give attention to our story.
What does being a Dazey Lady mean to you?
Dazey Lady means not settling for a half-assed type of life. It means knowing your value, and the reality is that we are all conduits of how life happens. It also means being curious, and using the resources you have, and recognizing a path that's opened, have been opened, and you're ready.
Also, you guys are super awesome, and just generally top shelf type women.