Rachel Fernbach: Founder of PonyBabe
I get so excited when I'm presented with the opportunity to interview the entrepreneur behind a startup. Rachel is the woman behind every single aspect of PonyBabe, a new a collection of ethically produced, easy-to-wear clothing for women.
I'm so inspired by the thoughtfulness and effort she puts into the creation of some really amazing pieces, and I know you'll be inspired as you read her interview...
Share a bit about your background
Before starting PonyBabe, I spent over a decade working in service as a body-oriented therapist. I am trained in Massage Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy, Creative Arts Therapy, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In addition, yoga and meditation are a central part of my life. I've always been a maker and artist, and creative expression is so important to me.
What was the inspiration behind PonyBabe?
I love wearing comfy clothes that let me move and breathe. I wanted to create a clothing collection that would simplify and enrich women's lives by offering easy-to-wear layers that can be mixed, matched, and integrated smoothly into any wardrobe. The original inspiration for the line was a pair of hand-me-down harem pants that turned out to be perfect for yoga, and perfect for plain old regular everyday life.
Has the brand changed or evolved since you first started it?
Not by much! I founded PonyBabe as an ethical company, and am proud that I've upheld my values as the process has unfolded. One detail that is not quite as I imagined is the fabric I'm using. I originally wanted to use Italian and Japanese organic cottons, colored with custom vegetable dyes. It turned out to be way more complicated and expensive than I could manage at first, and so I adapted and chose a fabric that is available in small quantities and comes pre-dyed.
What's been the biggest obstacle for you to overcome in this endeavor?
It's hard to run a business with little-to-no cashflow! I ran a Kickstarter to raise funds for my first production run, but the money goes really fast. I think the most important way to address a challenge is to be curious, creative, optimistic, and open-minded, so right now I'm just asking a lot of questions, learning about marketing and wholesaling, and finding fun ways to spread the word about the collection.
What does a typical day look like for you as an entrepreneur?
I work from home, so a typical day is mostly spent by the computer! I send a lot of emails, pitching press and boutiques about the line. I also make sure to take time for self-care, including cooking my meals and exercising. I try to schedule peer support phone calls or coffees dates with other entrepreneurs, just to talk about the ups and downs and keep each other focused on the positive.
Describe your personal stye...
Comfy cozy layers, all day every day! (If I can't do yoga or sleep in it, I probably won't wear it...)
You shop ethically in your personal life, how has this affected your daily life?
I've been shopping this way for so long that I don't really think of it as influencing, impacting, or changing my daily life... it's just the way things are - I buy certain things at certain stores, and that's the end of the story.
What's been the most rewarding part of founding PonyBabe?
It's very meaningful to have a tangible thing that I created. I can't really describe how cool it is when I see someone try on one of my designs! It's also been so great to meet other people who share my values and want to collaborate and support one another in pursuing a more ethical and just world.
Where would you like to see the brand in 5 years?
I'd love to see PonyBabe grow to a size which allows me to use some of the more out-of-reach fabrics. I'd also like to incorporate knitwear and collaborations with other designers or artists. And in my ideal world, it will of course provide the financial stability to live a comfortable life!
Anything else you'd like to share?
To be 100% honest, the ethics of my business are not actually the most important thing I want people to know about. (It's unfortunate that we live in a world in which doing the right thing is such a big flipping deal.)
What I really want to share with women is the experience of being super-duper cozy all day long. It bums me out when I see how many people wear pants that are too tight, shoes that hurt, or compression garments designed to create optical illusions of the "perfect" figure. Bodies are amazing and beautiful, and are meant to be active.
We're healthiest when we can move and breathe without impediment, and I want to offer women clothing that lets them sigh in relief - knowing that they look cute and put together, but can also get down on the floor and play at a moment's notice. The ethics and sustainability are a bonus - your body will be at ease in PonyBabe, and if ethical shopping is your jam, your conscience will be, too.
If you find yourself in need of some incredibly comfy clothes, or maybe you want to make someone's day with a truly meaningful gift, head on over to PonyBabe and support the wonderful work Rachel is doing!