Producing with Purpose - Episode 13: Featuring Jordan Nodarse of Boyish Jeans
This episode was so full of information, and ran for 1 hour and 20 minutes, so it has been release into 2 parts.
Part 1 focusses on Jordan's journey starting Boyish, and Part 2 dives into some more of the business and industry secrets. I recommend listening to both, but if you want to dive straight into the business knowledge, Part 2 is a must-listen!
Boyish Jeans website: www.boyish.com
Jordan Nodarse (Guest) Instagram: @jordanmakesjeans
Boyish Jeans Instagram: @boyishjeans
Tony Corrales (Host) Instagram: @tony__corrales
Nōskin Instagram: @noskin.co
On this episode of Producing with Purpose, Presented by Noskin - I catch up with Jordan Nodarse. Founder of Boyish Jeans, a sustainable women's denim brand from Los Angeles, Jordan has not only an extensive, but an interesting background in fashion design, specifically in the denim arena.
With Boyish setting the bar high in terms of sustainability, transparency and ultimately, producing with purpose, this conversation left me feeling extremely motivated and inspired to fill every day with education and aspiration to make Nōskin the best brand we can, whilst always focussing on our efforts towards sustainability.
Legs like Led Zepplin and the days before Boyish
Jordan takes us through what Boyish brings to the market, with in-season yet timeless products that come from traceable materials all the way back to the farm.
Starting at the age of 16 in the early 2000's, screen printing t-shirts for fun, Jordan soon found he couldn't find jeans that were skinny enough for his taste when replicating the styles of Led Zepplin or Bruce Springsteen.
Wanting to create something that he couldn't find in the market, Jordan got into fashion by modifying classic Levis to provide a solution to his own problem on his Mum's sewing machine.
"Denim had functionality. It needed to be functional. It needed to be constructed well. It needed to match people's perspective of how they were going to use it."
Landing a job working in a denim brand, Jordan continued to get his hands dirty until he eventually moved on to co-found a fashion brand which unfortunately didn't work out.
Eventually moving on to consult for other denim brands, Jordan helped support a number of brands until finally launching the brand Grlfrnd.
Taking a number of roles consulting on denim styles for some of LA's most reputable denim brands. Working with rigid fabrics and moving away from the stretch fit that was dominating the market, Jordan was able to start shifting into new styles but at the same time continued to learn about the lack of sustainability in fashion practices.
A crash course in sustainable fashion
Eventually landing a job at Reformation, one of LA's most reputable sustainable fashion labels, Jordan experienced a new level of education in sustainable fashion.
Ever since working on Revolve, Jordan had slowly been working on his own brand in the background, Boyish. However, when moving to Reformation he made it clear that he also wanted to have the freedom to progress Boyish further, knowing that while he worked for other companies, he would always be a cog in someone else's machine and building brands and success for somebody else.
"Working 50, sometimes 60 hour work weeks, I still managed to find time to work on Boyish. The people who were closest around me understood what I had to do"
Going full time
With the ownership team at Nōskin making the transition this year to run the business full time, I'm always interested to here from other ethical entrepreneurs about the moment where they knew they had to double down and give their side-business their full attention.
Working at Reformation and finding success in the role, Jordan found that as he took the brand further, they grew into directions that didn't align with his vision, ultimately causing him to feel that the role was no longer the right place for him to put his game-changing efforts.
Not making the decision based on finances, with Boyish still unable to support Jordan financially at the time, it was based on the feeling that he needed to clear his mind and give Boyish the attention it deserved on his terms.
"Fashion brands take 2-3 years in the market just figuring out what the market wants"
We discuss the importance of being patient and the process of figuring out what works and Jordan shares some great insight in the operational differences between a smaller sustainable business and a larger fast fashion business. Acknowledging that in fast fashion, the objective is taking a product and then figuring out how you can make it cheap enough to sell, in a brand like Boyish or Nōskin, it's about finding a something the market will love and creating the desire for it to make sure the product is loved and people will buy it for its value.
"I view all my vendors as partners. I want them to be successful."
Something I'll talk more about in another episode was the initial adjustment that I needed to make when Nōskin launched back in April. My efforts no longer restricted by my 9-5 job, I was able to put all of my time, with my team, into launching the brand. However, I quickly found myself in a cycle where I felt if I stopped working, even if my time was no longer productive, I would blame myself for the week or month not being successful.
Jordan shares some great, practical advice on how he has started to learn the art of time management, and how educating his team on this process has also allowed him to look introspectively at the way he's applying his time and efforts.
The art of balancing direct to consumer and wholesale
If you've heard previous episodes of the show, you'll know that one question I've raised a few times, and something that is in frequent discussion at Nōskin HQ is the advantages and disadvantages of branching out to have your products sold in high street stores.
It may seem like this is the dream for any fashion brand and it's more a case of being successful enough to do so, rather than it being a choice, but as Jordan explains with great detail, there are many issues that arise when you do move in to a wholesale model.
Jordan reveals some pretty shocking insights into how major retailers work with small brands to stock their products and how damaging this can be - not only for the brand, but also for the environment and the wastage that this can cause. If there's some section of this show you need to listen to - this is it!
"If you're going to allow your company to be dictated by what other people consider successful or innovative, you're always going to be behind"
The things you have to do...
Jordan has come from an incredibly versatile and creative background and holds the title of Creative Director at Boyish Jeans. However, as anyone in a growing business knows, you have to learn so much more than your core skill set to get through each day.
Jordan wraps up the episode by taking us through some of the things he's needed to learn. From the contracts and payroll, to truly realising the importance of marketing, we discuss the depth of challenges and obstacles that arise when starting an ethical business, but how important it is to just keep going.
"The real formula of success, is to constantly fail without losing enthusiasm"
Lastly, Jordan takes us through what the next 12 months looks like for Boyish, with new fits and a continuation of their commitment to sustainability.