Dôen: designers making a difference

DESIGNERS, DREAMERS, PEACEMAKERS: How the Santa Barbara-based Kleveland sisters, Katherine and Margaret, set about creating an Indie-boho fashion line that's as beautiful as it is ethical. Photographs by Hilary Walsh 

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  2. How Deep Is Your Love: main picture top, DÔEN's spring/summer 2016 debut features sophisticated bohemian staples; above, the label's creative sister act, Katherine and Margaret Kleveland in their design studio.

Congratulations on the launch of Dôen this week. I love THAT the label is a celebration of motherhood, sisterhood and femininity – ALBEIT with mindful outcomes. Can you explain ITS philosophy:

It is where we are in our lives. I think people do their best when they are honest and true to themselves. I think that we  have had many career and personal experiences that have led us to DÔEN. We have learned from experience, what kind of company we want to build and what kind of environment we want to create for our employees and partners and children. Becoming mothers has transformed us, and really inspired us to build a company we believe in, design a product we truly love, find a work-life balance that keeps it fresh, and has made us more tapped into our own creativity and capability.

  1. YOUR LABEL HAS FIVE PARTNERS, ALL WOMEN, INCLUDING PHOTOGRAPHER HILARY WALSH WHO SHOT THE IMAGERY, AND ARTIST ALLIE FURLOTTI – WHY DID YOU FEEL IT WAS RIGHT TO FORM A COLLECTIVE? From day one, the concept for DÔEN was to partner in a real, incentivising and meaningful way with the women in our community that were the best in their field. We really feel that the status quo of male owned-women run is so archaic. We believe that a true partnership yields the highest output, and that the women we are partnering with are the most capable, creative and efficient partners.

 

  1. THERE IS ANOTHER SIDE TO YOUR LABEL WHICH IS WONDERFULLY MINDFUL, SOMETHING ALL TOO RARE IN FASHION – WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU BOTH AND WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL? We want to set up a company we believe in, that means critically looking at every aspect of the business, from corporate set-up, to supply chain, to how we engage and interact with our customer and community. It is also important that our charitable efforts are the most impactful and efficient, that is why we have partnered with Room to Read.
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THE DESIGNERS SHARE THEIR VIEWPOINT ON THEIR PHILANTHROPIC CAUSE, ROOM TO READ:

  1. To extend our commitment to closing the gender gap to the communities where we produce, we have partnered with Room To Read. Each season, we design a unique children’s style and donate 100% of those profits to benefit Room To Read’s mission to promote literacy and gender equality. Room to Read works with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and supports girls to complete secondary school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed beyond. We also welcome our customers to support literacy and gender equality by making a donation at checkout.
Children in India partaking in Room To Read's literacy program

 

  1. CREATIVELY, ONE THEME YOU KEEP RETURNING TO IN THE DESIGN STUDIO IS … Unique vintage and antique garments that somehow blend really nicely into the California lifestyle, a bit of nostalgia for 70s California style and vibes.

 

WHAT INSPIRED THE LOOK AND FEEL OF THE LAUNCH COLLECTION? Our upbringing in Santa Barbara, a powerful natural beauty and relaxed elegance, coastal landscapes. There is a level of sophistication meets coastal lifestyle. I think a lot of our pieces have very organic fluid lines and patterns, with some refined but nonchalant styling. They are clothes to wear when you are happy and relaxed.

 

AS WORKING MOTHERS, HOW DO YOU HOPE TO STRIKE A WORK-LIFE-FAMILY BALANCE? It is something we are constantly working on. We both love to work, and love working on DÔEN, it brings us joy and balance. I’d say we are both constantly working on being more present at home, giving our children undivided, uninterrupted quality attention when we are with them. We have to be aware and work on it.  It is launch week, so we are really in it. I think we are just so grateful to be able to dictate our own schedules, we work a ton, but we are able to be there for our kids as well!

"Becoming mothers transformed us, and really inspired us to build a company we believe in, design a product we truly love, find a work-life balance that keeps it fresh, and has made us more tapped into our own creativity and capability."

– Katherine Kleveland on how the duo manages their time at work and with family

  1. YOU OBVIOUSLY SHARE A UNIQUE BOND WITH EACH OTHER AS SISTERS – CAN YOU LIST THE CHARACTERISTICS YOU ADMIRE IN EACH OTHER AND WHAT MAKES YOUR PARTNERSHIP WORK? 
  2. – Margaret is incredibly thorough,  creative, resourceful, efficient and looks to the future, always.
  3. – Katherine is very in-the-present, optimistic, solution-oriented and able to design really wearable pieces within our aesthetic.

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  1. Photo by Phoebe Dean
  2. AND LASTLY, IT'S ALWAYS SUCH A THRILL TO FIND IN TWO WORKING CREATIVES A DYNAMIC SENSE OF STYLE IN EVERYTHING – CAN YOU SHARE YOUR CURRENT INSPIRATIONS: 
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For more information look up: Shopdoen.com.