I started Dear Survivor with very little forethought. The idea struck at the end of April 2015, and a few weeks later on June 15th I officially launched the brand. I had no business training, no design education, no qualifications to do this. But I had a passion…
The idea was simple - make cute things from ethically sourced materials, and give back to the cause of human trafficking.
I designed my first collection of purses and jewelry and played dress up with my roommates. We walked around Silverlake and captured our initial images. I’m so thankful for these women and their support, especially as I took over the apartment with my design explosion. They cheered me on and affirmed that I had what it took to be a designer.
It wasn’t until the night of my launch party that I stepped back and considered what I’d just done. I stood behind my table and thought, “shoot, I started a business.” My company was registered with the state of California. I had announced to all my friends and family that I was doing this…
What if I failed? What if Dear Survivor was a total flop?
Before that moment, I hadn’t thought about the likelihood of failure. I was so caught up in the adrenaline of my creativity that I hadn’t thought through the logistics. Where did I see myself in five years? Was I actually going to make an impact in the way I wanted to? How was I going to scale? I didn’t even have a credit card back then…
But as the fear started to creep in - I decided that I needed to define what success was for me. I wasn’t setting out to be like other businesses - so why should my success be defined by other’s standards? So for Dear Survivor to be a success, it needed to pay my bills, to support survivors of human trafficking, to have a line of products that helps rather than hurts, to help women see themselves as beautiful, and to one day get into Vogue.
Today, on my 5 year anniversary since my launch, I am proud to say that Dear Survivor is a success. It has grown beyond what I thought it could. It’s survived with me as I moved to new cities. We’ve been able to donate over $25,000 to the fight against human trafficking. Our product line is ethical and sustainable, and helps women feel more confident. And last summer, Dear Survivor got the elusive email from Vogue inviting us to be in the September issue guest edited by Meghan Markle. An issue highlighting companies doing good for people and planet. The *dream* issue to be in.
The past 5 years have been exhausting. I work really hard, generally 60-70 hours a week. There is no rest in the start-up life. Even though I’ve hit the 5 year mark, I still feel like I’m just barely getting my footing. Each year I’ve grown into new areas. From brick and mortar in 2016, to a hard push for wholesale in 2017, to transitioning my product line from bags to jewelry in 2018, to manufacturing and a massive rebrand in 2019, to a worldwide pandemic and throwing all my normal systems out the door in 2020.
I have no idea what the next 5 years will hold. But I’m excited. I’m dreaming bigger, learning to delegate better, and still out to prove that fashion can and should be done better.
There is so much more I can say as I look back on these first five years. But what I really want to say is this:
Thank you so much for your support over these years. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for trusting me with your consumer dollar. Thank you for your beautiful, kind reviews. Thank you for sharing Dear Survivor with your friends. Thank you for being part of this with me.
Cheers to the next 5 years!