Imagine yourself launching a T-shirt line straight out of college or getting a high fashion intern at Teen Vogue, sounds cool right? But wait till you hear about this young entrepreneur duo who had launched U.S. based denim, tie-dye, and knitwear brand La Detresse. Alana Hadid and Emily Perlstein launched La Detresse as a denim jacket label brand three years ago. The co-founder duo met each other via personal shopping and hadn’t been inseparable since then.
Recently, Alana Hadid gave an interview to Forbes along with her co-founder Emily Perlstein where she talked about the journey of the brand, why they wanted the brand to be based in the U.S. only, and what are the key lessons from their journey in these past years of business.
“The original idea for the brand was all about the denim jacket, based on vintage jackets I had collected over years, We weren’t trying to be on-trend or even set a standard, we just wanted to make cool clothes that everyone could wear and love, a piece that could be passed down from generation to generation, and get better with age.” Alana Hadid said while talking about the brand.
The brand has got some high named retailers like Carbon38, Bandier, Revolve, Selfridges, the Webster, Intermix, Shop bop, and Bergdorf Goodman in their 3 years of business. They have also seen tremendous growth with a 960% increase in sales and a 798% increase in total orders in 2020 as compared to the past year. La Detresse started as a direct-to-consumer brand but over the years the brand has completely taken over the knitwear and the tie-dye retail industry.
Before starting La Detresse Alana Hadid had worked almost in every industry and on the journey, she had met her partner, Emily. They both hit it off together and co-founded La Detresse.
“I think I probably worked in every industry, I had a kind of ‘say yes’ mentality when it came to job offers. Right out of college I had a T-shirt line called Better Bacon — all the artwork was done by kids with disabilities. When I had to fold that, I did everything — worked the door at a club, a stint in PR, owned and ran an art gallery, and worked in retail. That’s where I started styling and met Emily” she said. She made Emily sign an NDA on their early meeting about the brand.
When asked about why she wanted La Detresse to be a U.S. based brand, Alana Hadid replied, “We really wanted to be a U.S.-based brand and an LA brand that said LA and meant it. It has also really become my mission in life and our mission as a brand to give back and we have been really trying to give back to the community, not just with jobs by keeping our brand here in LA, but by funding charities.”
Emily further added that due to the local setup of the business only they were able to manufacture products even when pandemic hit them. “I am also eternally grateful that we manufactured in the U.S. when COVID hit last year — thankfully, we were able to continue manufacturing albeit at a slower rate, while adhering to CDC guidelines and social distancing. It has been the biggest blessing. “
Hadid also shared that their new collection “La Detresse Mania” will be coming in January and she wishes that people around the globe see it. She further said that this line has some really amazing collaborations with people and brands and wholesale partners.
“We will still be making easy to wear comfortable high fashion, in new and fun ways and we will always be giving back and giving away. We hope to be seen on more people around the world. Watching people, real people wear what we make is what makes it fun and exciting.” the designer further added.
The girls had started this business on October 30, 2017, and had been running the show entirely by themselves. They started La Detresse as a self-funded business but now with all the coming-in profits they are finally expanding the team. Alana Hadid seemed quite excited to talk about the first employee of La Detresse.
“We just hired our first employee. There are growing pains for sure, but we are so proud of ourselves. Now the company funds itself — that’s a huge accomplishment. “
The co-founder also shared their learnings from the business and what should be the point young entrepreneurs or small businesses should keep in mind before starting. Alana said that if they have a well-formed plan then they should “just do it” and never wait for the “good time” to start. She also said that one should understand their strength and weakness both.
“if you are the business, find the talent and if you’re the talent find the business, Know your strengths and your weaknesses and find the yin to your yang.”