Q&A with Kristin Coia
How has Go Gently Nation grown over the years?
We have stayed the course of manufacturing here in Los Angeles and focused our mission to sustainable excellence. We have grown successfully year after year, we think maybe due to our authenticity, simple designs, and quality standards. Beginning only as an infant line and now focused on sustainable living for the whole family.
Our growth into retail has played a significant role in our growth. We felt that we had a story to tell that could be told well in a brick-and-mortar environment. It is a great pleasure to meet our customers in person and share our brand with them!
What makes Go Gently Nation unique in the market? Why did you choose organic cotton for your clothing? What are the benefits of these fabrics?
We only invest in 100% sustainable fabrics. All fabrics we buy are organic or hemp/organic blends and are all Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified.
We have always tried to source fabrics right here – in the US – to cut down on shipping costs and our carbon footprint. This brings with it its own challenges as sometimes the fabrics don’t accommodate the design (for example, not draping right or too lightweight). For other brands, they might just choose a rayon or a poly blend to achieve the goal of bringing that design to life, but in our world, we often have to walk away from a design.
Now that our brand has grown and we can meet larger fabric minimums, we’re investing in more custom-made organic fabric, i.e. custom stripes & knits.
What does your manufacturing process look like?
Our manufacturing process is one of the main areas that set us apart and guarantees we have maximum transparency in our supply chain. We’re very close to the production of our garments. We work alongside our US-based cutters and sewing contractors daily to ensure garments’ success. We believe when we’re involved with the process, we have a greater appreciation for our product and the people who bring our products to life. It feels like a good thing to us.
We use a lot of past selling data to wisely order fabric and therefore cut/sew what we know we can sell. This allows us not to have to find a third party to sell our excess inventory or have to mark it extremely low in a sale to move inventory, meaning we can continue to pay local artisans a fair wage to make our garments.
When we started the brand 15 years ago, I remember driving down the alley behind our cutter in downtown Los Angeles and seeing tons of trash bins spilling over with fabric remnants. It seemed so wasteful, and where was it all going to go? Yes, the landfill, into the ground. I have always been conscious of doing as much as possible to reuse what we have and we’re always looking for ways to upcycle fabric remnants into new garments or accessories.
We are far from perfect, and sometimes we have to throw some away; it’s impossible not to, but I think the more we give something thought, the more likely we’re to care about it and re-imagine something out of it.
How do you pack and deliver orders?
We open every garment before we ship our online orders & firstly reuse every garment bag again for next production. We pack our online orders in recycled kraft tissues and wrap with ribbon made from leftover fabric from our past productions. We use both a recycled plastic shipping bag as well as a biodegradable shipping bag which can later be placed in your compost pile.
We try to keep up with the latest and greatest offerings as technology advances and new shipping supplies become available. We plan some styles with our factory to have them come to us bundled by size to limit excessive packaging, but sadly we then have to individually pack the garments to protect them in the warehouse. And if they are shipping to any retailers, they need to be packaged so they arrive in perfect condition. This is something we can’t get around but are always getting creative with it.
And in the meantime, we’re conscious about reusing as much packaging as possible where we can. We also found out that most of our retailers were just throwing our hangtags away, so instead of each garment getting a hang tag at the factory, we ask our retailers if they will require hangtags and ship them along only if requested.
What was it like to create an eco-friendly and ethical brand from the start? Any unexpected challenges?
It was quite hard in the beginning. I remember countless conversations with showroom reps & buyers trying to convince me to make the line in conventional cotton in an effort to lower the price point. The constant feedback was, “no one cares if it’s organic so why are you taking less profit”. We stayed the course because we believed it mattered and it honestly just always felt right to us. At the end of the day we didnt want to run a clothing brand that was purchasing conventional fabrics that weren't eco minded. I guess our passion and conviction, although maybe we were early to the game in 2007 initially, paid off for when sustainability years later was relevant!
Do you think that the fashion industry is slowly evolving into a more sustainable one or is it not? Or is it up to individual fashion professionals/brands to change that themselves?
There is a huge amount of progress in consumer awareness which is always going to drive demand so we believe that sustainable fashion isn’t going anywhere. Yes the industry is becoming more sustainable but we still have the obstacle of changing the customers understanding of the costs entailed to be more sustainable and to encourage a culture of buying fewer quality items that will last for a very long time vs. buying many less expensive pieces of clothing.
How has designing a slow fashion collection changed your creative process? Does simplicity play any part of this?
Our simple & refined styling from the beginning gave us an edge eventually. In the beginning no one got the “solid” garments we were designing. Buyers were always saying we can’t sell solid color garments and asked us frequently to do prints. We tried it for a few seasons to compete but it was never anything we were good at or liked. We prefer simple, solid and textured fabrics. We have always been sustainably driven, thinking about a garment and how to make it smartly.
Who you’re aiming your design at, is there a specific target audience that you feel will really appreciate the design direction you’re going in?
We feel we will always be a childrenswear brand first in our customers eyes so it is the children & the moms we design for. As a mother myself, my children were my muses (when they were little) and our fit models for virtually all 300 children patterns in our library.
Go Gently Nation also carries other sustainable brands like Ten & Co and Ekobo. Can you explain a little bit about these partnerships and your intentions with them? Also is it a goal to have more collaborations like these in the future?
We source other like minded brands from all over the world. We seek brands that are truly passionate and committed to the sustainability process as we are. From their product offering to the packaging that their products come in. We also aren’t interested in carrying a brand just for 1 season. We seek to source brands for our shops that we can get behind and reorder regularly from in turn supporting them long term.
Where do you see Go Gently Nation in 5 years?
We intend to open a 2nd retail location and from there will see where retail takes us. It is an area we intend to continue our growth. We would love to expand on the manufacturing side with a small menswear line and possibly childrenswear swimwear as well.
Q&A with Go Gently Nation Team
It's been 15 years since we started Go Gently Nation, and we're feeling grateful. Not just for surviving and thriving 15 years in business, but also for having such an amazing team.
We sat down with some of our team members to find out what they love about working at Go Gently Nation, and here's what they had to say:
“I really enjoy working at Go Gently Nation and love that we always make fashion and sustainable things together. We don’t over produce, and our founder stays committed to producing locally which I really respect. I have a 6 yr old daughter and love that she is able to wear her Go Gently pieces for a long time. Our clothing is great quality and love being able to pass her clothing down on to our friend’s kids!” – Millie
“The unique part of working at this company (which I love) is that we all are into sustainable, minimal, mindful, gentle, earthy fashion and lifestyle “in style”. I feel like I’m at the right place! We recycle materials and reuse/utilize what we already have. We love nature and we love what we make and what we wear.
Our mission as a brand that is always discussed especially at the retail level is to inspire and educate customers/consumers to live the lifestyle that is simple and gentle to everyone and earth, by showcasing it beautifully. We need to slow down and live more in this present moment… more gratitude for what we have and things we love… We make time-less, beautiful pieces so they can be treasured forever.” – Asuka
“Working at a sustainable brand like Go Gently has really been a game changer for me. Since everything in the business is operated from an eco point of view, it has made me re-think the way that businesses should be run. We really make it a focus in our day-to-day tasks to reuse and recycle as much as we can. We choose eco-friendly options in everything from our garment bags, studio organization materials and all our shipping materials.
With past companies I have worked for, the mindset wasn’t ever put towards an earth friendly mission and it is a breath of fresh air for me to work at a company like Go Gently. Our mission towards slow fashion is something I believe that should not be taken lightly.” – Angelica
Before wrapping up, I’d like to sincerely thank you for being here and supporting Go Gently throughout our journey. Today, and all the days leading up to today. It wouldn’t have been possible without you. Your encouragement & support. Your push to get better. It’s what got us here, and we promise that this year and beyond, you’ll see us continue with every commitment we have always had — always designed and made in the spirit of doing better for you and the planet. We stand firm with our commitment to the slow fashion movement and helping people be a part of the change we all want to see.
Now that you’ve understood what makes Go Gently Nation different. Shop with us now and help us continue to pioneer and set standards in sustainable fashion!