When Canadian business woman, Kristi Soomer travelled professionally and personally, she grew tired of packing and unpacking multiple items to meet all her travel needs. Scarves, cardigans, and sweaters piled up in her carry on suitcase, to give her layers and options to make sure she was warm and comfortable on planes and throughout her trips. She tried to use a multi-functional item that ‘tied’ into different looks, a scarf slash tunic slash dress, but it was so poorly made it was practically see through and it didn’t hold up. These experiences got her thinking about fashion and function and like other entrepreneurs, she started to ask questions. What if she used better fabrics? What if she could hold the looks together? What if she could make it luxurious and sustainable? I spoke to Soomer to find out how she found the answers to her questions and filled a gap in the market.
Soomer went to her drawing board to start her brand Encircled. She designed the Chrysalis Cardi, a versatile garment, with heavy-duty snaps along the hemlines to facilitate luxurious looks for a multi-wear garment that actually works. It wasn’t easy. “When I looked into production, people told me I was crazy. That’s when I knew I was pursuing an innovative product, and it could be ground breaking,” states Soomer. Launched less than a year ago, the Chrysalis Cardi is now in its second production run and is offered in four colours, black, grey, cobalt blue and raspberry pink.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, when I reported on Eco Fashion Week, modular, repurposed and versatile fashion trends are transforming the industry as consumers seek minimalist solutions to overconsumption. A greater number of designers are integrating customized, interchangeable and transseasonal pieces into their collections to provide high quality, multi-use styles that are designed to last and subsequently, a greater number of fashionistas are buying into these beautiful brands. In fact, when Soomer surveyed her customers to uncover why they purchased the Chrysalis Cardi, she was surprised to discover that they bought it because of its high quality and functional style, not because it was ethical and eco-conscious. Soomer said, “Our mission is to change that around, to help women learn that ethical and sustainable fashion is beautiful.” Whatever the reason for their purchase, Encircled’s customers have found the Chrysalis Cardi meets their fashion needs, and it’s a remarkable Canadian made product.
In the future, Encircled plans to launch new multi-use looks, like a luxurious t-shirt in tencel. “That’s really the goal,” Soomer summed up for me, “to create a more mindful collection… that fits easily into a woman’s wardrobe.”