Dara Elliott: founder of Brevity
You know that amazing jacket that I introduced you to yesterday? Well, you're in for a treat, because today you get to meet Dara, the brilliant woman who founded Brevity. I had the chance to grab coffee with Dara a few weeks ago and was blown away at her knowledge of fabric, fashion, and commitment to making the industry a better place for women. I'm also obsessed with her aesthetic, you'll know why when you check out her instagram feed!
Share a little about your personal background...
I'm based in San Francisco, and previously lived in New York, Los Angeles and San Diego. My background is in fashion and beauty - I've worked at PR agencies, in-house at Sephora and Swarovski, and at startups. My career trajectory has always been about learning new things, building Brevity has been a playground for applying what I've learned and continuing to grow with the brand. In my spare time, you'll find me voraciously consuming podcasts, exploring new cities, and on a quest to find the best burrito.
What was your inspiration for Brevity?
Brevity was born out of the desire to simplify. I was walking to work wearing a hoodie, then I'd get to work and change into a 'nicer' jacket. Meanwhile, I was reading Marie Kondo's book on paring down your wardrobe. Both these events opened my eyes to the world of minimalist fashion. As I streamlined my wardrobe, I knew there needed to be a better jacket. One that's super comfortable, sleek and versatile enough to take you from your morning coffee to happy hour. So I created the Do Anything Jacket!
Has the brand evolved much since you started?
All our jackets are made in a women-owned factory in San Francisco. This was a conscious decision I made after seeing the gender gaps across all industries including fashion and manufacturing. In order to start leveling the playing field, I believe we have to fiscally support one another. Your dollar can pave the future you want to live in. And for me, it's a future where the next generation of girls aspire to be leaders, founders and trailblazers.
What have been your biggest obstacles to overcome in founding Brevity?
Where do I begin?! Building a brand is a series of obstacles. The most intimidating part was just getting started. Even though I've worked in fashion before, I had no idea how clothes were actually made. Trying to learn the entire process from start to finish was overwhelming. Once I broke it down into small, actionable steps, I started making progress and before I knew it, I had my first sample. While there were many samples after that, (and I still have so much to learn!), taking things one step at a time has really helped!
How do you select the partners you work with to produce your jacket?
Because jackets are incredibly technical, you'll notice there are few ethical fashion brands taking on outerwear. Most jackets are made overseas making it was a challenge to find a local factory that even had the right skill set. Plus, I was determined to support a local, women-owned factory, which really narrowed down the options. I'm thrilled to be partnered up with both Susan and Connie. Susan's an expert pattern maker (picture below), she's exceptional at tailoring and getting the fit just right. And Connie's owned her factory for 30 years, she's known for her ethical labor practices. In fact, most of her sewers have been with her since she opened shop!
Describe your personal style...
Minimal, modern, and feminine. I'm obsessed with elevated basics, essential pieces with either smart functional features like pockets or delightful design details like a slightly low back, or slit along the side.
With the jacket being sold online, what's one thing you wish consumers knew about it?
There's a common misconception about vegan leather being plasticky and feeling really stiff. When in reality, there's been so much innovation in the alternative leather space. Yet, fast fashion companies are not investing in better quality which is why jackets on the racks of mainstream stores haven't kept up with textile innovation. I really wanted to find a high quality material that was buttery soft and had 4-way stretch. After nearly a year sourcing and working directly with the mill, I'm thrilled to be using the best vegan leather to craft the Do Anything Jacket.
What's been the most rewarding part of founding Brevity?
Hands down the community! I've met incredible female founders and have become a part of both the ethical fashion and minimalism communities. In fact, because of the brand, you and I had chance to meet in-person when I visited Portland! I've also had the pleasure of establishing deeper connections with my customers, I've visited people in their homes for personal fittings and one of my customers even sent me a piece of her artwork. Those are far and away, the very best moments!
Where would you like to see the brand in 5 years?
I think we're all constantly evolving as our season of life changes. What I want now will most likely be different than what I want in 5 years and I think that's amazing because it means we're constantly growing and becoming better versions of ourselves. I used to be someone who spent a lot of time dreaming about what I wanted to be, today, I just want to focus on what's in front of me.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I believe that fashion often follows food. It's become mainstream to eat organic foods and I think we're starting to see a shift into conscious fashion. I'm excited to see thoughtful consumption become the norm.