This week on the blog, I was finally able to track down Dharma Bums designer and co-founder, Debbie Lawson.
With a strong background in fashion buying and merchandising for major local and international brands, Debbie decided to take a break to fulfill fer desire to become a yoga teacher, and from there, combined her passions to create the ethically produced brands, Dharma Bums.
Dharma: Acting in concert with one’s divine purpose in life. When our intentions, thoughts, words and actions support our life’s purpose, we are in dharma.
Bum: Someone who spends lots of their time doing an activity they love or being in a place they enjoy e.g. surf bum, beach bum, yoga bum, you get the idea…
Dharma Bum: A person who travels through life living their purpose, doing what they love in peace, happiness and harmony.
Dharma Bums produce all of their clothes locally, following the Australian Ethical Clothing Standards. That means, everyone along the supply chain is paid and treated fairly, they use eco-friendly dyes to colour their fabrics, no animal products are used and they recycle and re-use wherever they can.
This week, while based at a Yoga Ashram in India, the inspiration for getting back to the basics and finding ethical brands for flows is getting strong, and for that reason, I wanted to share the story of how ‘Dharma Bums’ became what it is today…
M.E. “Having started with a small line and your own personal investments, how do you think you managed to gain so much growth so quickly?”
D.L. “It was a combination of factors that helped us. I have many years working in buying and design so I knew how to design a garment and source product. I was also very experienced at managing financial budgets which meant I could ensure we invested wisely in building the collections and the investing in the right areas of the business to support its growth.
We utilised social media very effectively and quickly built a loyal following.
This platform gave us an international reach very quickly. Sourcing on-shore meant we had an exceptionally quick turnaround for all product. This means we are able to turn the business very fast and keep cash flow healthy.”
M.E. “Dharma Bums as a brand certainly stands out for its boldness, and is recognised all over social media, where do you continually get your creative inspiration?”
D.L. “I am supported by a team of very talented designers who help keep the
brand fresh and innovative. We take our inspirations from so many places. From catwalk trends, to nature and art. There is so much inspiration to draw from we are never
lacking in idea”
M.E. “I’m sure I’m not alone when I say the reason I started buying your brand was due to its moral and ethical codes. Why was this such an important factor to you?”
D.L. “I had years of experience travelling the world sourcing fabrics and garments. In this time I saw /rsthand the oppression that exists in the textile industry. Low wages, long hours and unsafe working conditions are just some of the challenges the workers face. I no longer wanted to be part of that cycle. I truly believe you can have a pro/table company built on inspiration and hard work that empowers everyone who works for it. We have managed to create that environment.”
M.E. “It’s empowering to know that you actually help the local clothing industry in Australia, while keeping your customers returning by offering competitive pricing. How are you able to strike such a happy balance?”
D.L. “The margins of making on shore are very much lower than o1 shore. We have built this into our business model from the onset. We built the company with a great IT infrastructure that means we can have a lean headcount and continue to expand. Our short lead times means we do not have to stock pile product. We can buy product in small volumes until we know it sells. This way can keep the stock holding lean and reduce markdown risk and product failure. One of the values of the company was “we would sell for what we could afford not what we could get away with” and we keep this in the forefront of our mind when we decided our pricing structure.”
M.E. “In a world of constant innovation and change, what is coming next for Dharma Bums?”
D.L. “We have now launched a site and distribution centre in the UK to make our
product more accessible. We will be looking to expand further into Asia and the US.
We will also be looking to increase our product selection, offering more choice to customers.”
M.E. “Lastly, if you had ONE piece of advice to share for other budding entrepreneurs in the wellness sector, what would it be?”
D.l. “The journey is a marathon not a sprint. You need to prepare for this both mentally, physically and spiritually. You are your company’s greatest asset, it is essential you take care of yourself so you are in the best possible shape. Many demands will be made on your time, and they will all seem important but unless you prioritise your own wellbeing you will not be able to lead electively.” – Debbie Lawson
If you want to try an ethical approach to fashion, and match your outfit to your mood, check out the latest designs from Dharma Bums and find your fit to move through your flows. Plus, if you sign up to the email list, you’ll gain 20% off your first order! Now that’s something that will motivate you to hit your mat more often!
Wishes in wellness,
Monique Elouise x