Today we’d like to introduce you to Isabel Garretón.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Isabel. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
When I became a mom, I left my profession of several years and while a happy mother I was left with a void. Thinking I was privileged to be able to take care of my daughters I thought of women that woke up with no certainty as to how to provide for their children. This took me to an area of my native Chile where women had wonderful skills, hand embroidering and hand smocking but a very limited market.
Leaning on the very artistic environment I grew up in, I designed a group of girl’s dresses inspired by these women’s skills. The intention was to penetrate the US market, where I lived, and eventually improve their standard of living and the possibilities for their children.
After 30 years of remaining loyal to exclusive designs, high manufacturing standards and the social commitment of the company, I have seen some of the women abandoning abusive relationships, gaining independence and sending their children all the way to college. At the same time our line of children’s clothing is found in the best boutiques and children stores in the US and other countries as well as Saks 5th Ave., Neiman Marcus, Barney’s, and Bergdorf Goodman.
We became a certified B Corporation in 2015, where after intensive scrutiny we were recognized as a corporation that exists to improve a social condition. In September 2016 at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, we received an award as “Best for the World 2016” where as a B Corporations we were validated as a force of good.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Never smooth. It is a company and as a business there are constant challenges. The initial one was finding support from financial institutions who saw my social mission as a deterrent to a solid business. This became less of a problem as we proved ourselves.
The events of September 11 brought another big obstacle, not only for the emotional devastation but also because it kept buyers from traveling at a time where buying on line was unthinkable. The 2008/2009 crisis was an overwhelming period that we managed to survive without leaving any of those working for the company behind but nothing I would like to experience again. Perhaps the biggest challenge came after September 11 when consumer practices begun to change and e-commerce began to gain terrain leaving brick and mortar stores navigating unknown territory. A process that remains a challenge until today.
So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Isabel Garretón story. Tell us more about the business.
I love my business and the people that work in it, many of them being part of the company for over 20 years, affording us skills that are hard to find today. I also love the newer, younger group that brings into the fold the trends and energy that is required to remain current.
I do many things, I focus on design and always have, I am also very careful with the dynamic between people. I follow the advice from a person I met on a long flight, he was about to retire as I was beginning. He said…”Getting your job done is the easy part, the challenge always comes from human relationships” His advice has served me the company well.
I believe we are known for exceptional children’s clothing. We have been part of thousands of christenings, weddings, communions, father- daughter dances, graduations, Easter and mother day celebrations. Events in life most of us want to remember.
I am proud to know we have treated with the same respect all involved in the process, those who cut, sew, embroider, the garments, those who market them, those who buy them for stores and also the end consumer who is purchasing an exceptional product that has been ethically manufactured.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I remember telling my father (a business man) at some point… “I cannot resist this recession any further, I have no more resources and no energy left” He said, “If you have endured this far, you have endured the worst. Keep at it, it will be over soon” It was all I need to hang in there. He was right…bad luck being in business during such a catastrophic recession, good luck to have such a father.
Having only the desire to do something good by bringing to market a special line of children clothing but knowing nothing about the business in particular, I was more than lucky, running into and surrounding myself with generous people that helped shape and bring to reality the company I was able to build.
- Website: www.isabelgarreton.com
- Phone: 310 833 7768
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @iginc
- Facebook: @isabelgarreton
- Twitter: @isabelgarreton