Running a business is not an easy thing to do, especially if you have a limited startup budget. Not to mention, entrepreneurs have to wear all hats to build their fort from the ground up. Small business owners work hard with long grueling hours to grow their business and have to compete with billion-dollar corporations to get their name known. Choosing to support small businesses helps not only support the owners and the people they hire but the local economy.
This week on the good blog, we interview small business owner, Robyn Hobbs! She comes armed with over ten years of experience as a successful entrepreneur. Robyn founded her company, Le Prix Fashion in 2012 with a mission to foster sustainability, self-love, and empowerment through a fun and inclusive shopping experience. As an avid traveler, her store features unique preloved or new clothing from around the world including upcycled, zero-waste, ethically-made products. She also launched their self-love pocket tee using The Good Tee as the blank canvas, she monogrammed - “ Self Love” so you can put it on and remind you to give yourself some extra love, care, and compassion.
We are inspired by Robyn and her journey with Le Prix, check out the interview below!
1.Tell us about your sustainable journey.
I talked about starting a fashion re-sale business in 2011 while studying Environmental Studies and Business Administration at Wilfrid Laurier University. This was based on my love of fashion, finding treasures, and shopping ethically and sustainably. My friends loved my style and asked me to take them and style them. Then their friends noticed their style was elevated and asked where they shopped and said me! It was when a Summer job didn’t work out and then it was that moment of truth to take the plunge to try it as a summer job. This was back in 2012 (when I had a BlackBerry Torch and I created a Facebook page). I started a website, and also ran by appointment out of my room and kept growing. While continuing my studies in a Master’s of Environmental Studies, I wrote a thesis on why people shop second-hand for fashion (you can see it here). This solidified the two pillars of fostering sustainability (including ethical) and self-love as Le Prix’s mission. I love to travel and visit my family abroad which started the #leprixtravels collections where I travel internationally and curate sustainable pieces from abroad. And clients went crazy for them. We did years of pop-ups, collaborations, mentoring, speaking on panels, and lots of community building since we are a social enterprise. The pandemic made us have to expand our offering but we are now a flourishing sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand.
2. What does Le Prix mean? How did you come up with the name?
Le Prix means “the price of love” which works in a few ways. You don’t need to pay a lot with the goal of finding pieces you absolutely love. This is where “the prize” really signifies the treasures we curate. It also means it doesn’t need to cost the earth or unethical labor for our products. I came up with it at 1 am over tea and treats with my friend Rabia because we envisioned Le Prix being a brand with the label sewn into clothing since I liked to make garments for fun at that time. The original name was “Le Prix D’Amour” which was just too long and people kept shortening it to Le Prix and it stuck.
3. I’ve been following you on social media and I’m inspired to travel. Any fave places that you’d recommend?
OHHHH that’s a great question and hard for me to answer! It really depends on what you want to experience. I’ve been traveling for the last 16 years so what I’ve wanted to get out of each trip has evolved. But I love living like a local as much as I can. If it’s amazing nature, Costa Rica blew me away with its 12 climatic zones. You could be in volcanic hot springs in a jungle-like Summer and then drive a few hours to the mountain cloud forests and actually be cold like its Spring. Then go to the coast to Manuel Antonio National Park and melt hiking in the heat. If it’s history and culture, Hungary was amazing. If you want a relaxed but fun nightlife place, Croatia was one of my favorites. I’m heading to Spain to see my family and I always do a shopping trip there, then Paris and then Belgium for the Tomorrowland music festival in July and then Colombia to meet some friends there for the Festival of the Flowers. Canada is amazing too. To this day, I still think East Coast seafood is the best. I’ve driven from B.C. to Quebec and back many times and I’ve driven across Canada and the USA and we have so many hidden gems. I lived on Vancouver Island and again there are just so many amazing places that you can even drive or boat to. But my list of places is endless and I’ve realized they are just places to keep staying excited for. Life is long if you’re lucky.
4. What are some ways to encourage self-love for yourself?
I’ve intentionally added and scheduled self-love time and self-care to my routine. Morning and night I enjoy the natural skin care system I’ve put together over the years at Le Prix. It’s a wonderful gentle facial massage that relaxes me and helps me decompress. I use Screen Time on my phone to shut down all my apps at 8 pm and turn off my phone and leave it by the door every night. My alarm clock which I bought this past year wakes me up with nature sounds. I set two alarms in the morning so one wakes me up, and then I have 20 minutes to do whatever I want for “me time”. Sometimes it's yoga, making myself a latte, and lots of times it’s reading feel-good fiction. Fortunately, I am not a snoozer type of sleeper. I love spending time sans clothing at home too. And if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. It boosts self-esteem!
Hot yoga directly in front of the mirror helps me connect with my present self without any of the thoughts of the day. If it’s a hard day, I love putting my Le Prix’s self-love tee on as a mindset shift for taking care of myself. Nature is my happy place, and helps with my physical and emotional well-being. It gives me perspective and brings me clarity. I’ve experienced lots of challenges in health and life, and I have gratitude for my body simply for being, keeping me alive and going.
5. Sustainability is important to you, are there any habits for you or others to live a low-impact life?
I think it’s important to not go in thinking you have to be perfect. Sustainability is an imperfect journey. Your lifestyle definitely matters, but voting and speaking up for change at the governmental and corporate levels is also key. The concept of the carbon footprint was actually coined by an oil company to put the focus on the individual level and not on fossil fuel companies. But for daily habits, try to reduce food waste, take care of the clothing you have (learn to sew, or get it repaired), try to eat in-season produce, and make zero-waste lifestyle swaps incrementally. I always have reusable bags with me, and I’ve been trying to remember to bring reusable straws or cutlery with me when I go out. I always look to see if I can buy whatever I need second-hand before I buy it new. Check out Freecycle, trading app Bunz, and local second-hand shops (Like Le Prix if you’re in Kitchener-Waterloo). Also, swap with people you know. You’d be surprised how many things friends or family have that they don’t need or use and are happy to pass along.
6. You launched the self-love pocket tee, made with yours truly (The Good Tee) can you tell us why and what inspired it?
I wanted to launch a comfy tee to be your favorite go-to that you would love to wear on repeat. I looked to find a Canadian brand, that was sustainable and ethical with renewable materials that have minimal environmental impact. And The Good Tee was the only brand that was doing everything right! Once we got samples, our initial idea completely transformed into something new with the cropped boxy tee that is so versatile and felt like a hug. The Self Love tee became this armor for yourself. You put it on and give yourself some extra love, care, and compassion. It gives you a mindset shift to have fun and take care of yourself, without having to ask permission. We’ve had clients wear it to yoga, as a girl’s night uniform, outdoor adventures, and even for Pride Month!
Robyn Hobbs wearing the Self-Love Tee made with The Good Tee’s Fair Boxy Pocket Tee
7. What is the hardest part of running your own store? What do you wish others knew?
I would say that running your own store during the pandemic has been the most challenging journey. Keeping with the crazy overnight changes, and being affected by the restrictions. In those moments, wearing 100 different hats can be overwhelming. Doing marketing, web design, sourcing, inventory management, shipping delays, social media, online customer service, human resources and more is always a balance. There is always more work to do, and for me, fun projects to work on, but taking time to enjoy life, and take care of yourself outside of your business is essential. If you think of sustainability for the environment, you also need to apply it to yourself, to help keep you going and not burn yourself out.
8. What are you working on for 2022 and beyond that you want us to know about?
I am heading to Europe and South America this summer to source more exciting sustainable things for Le Prix! We will start releasing them in the last week of August. Also, we continue to expand our sustainable lifestyle products after months of research and testing to find the best of the best. I am looking to launch organic fair trade Le Prix hats too. We’ve been trying to source these for a while and are getting close to finding the perfect fit. Living a sustainable life is an imperfect journey and personally, I love making changes to my life, and we even get great requests from our clients and we evolve and grow together.
Robyn Hobbs is one of the many inspiring social entrepreneurs out there who not only has goals for her business but also balances life and learned to enjoy and travel the world whenever possible. As a small business, The Good Tee is grateful to partner with like-minded businesses that care about doing good.
Have you thought about customizing your own tee for your own business? Fill out our wholesale application form and get your business rolling!
Curious about Le Prix Fashion? Check out their social links here!