ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM STORIES
Fast fashion and uninformed consumers are detrimental to the well-being of our planet, but one local high school student is determined to change that. Lucy Bogen’s passion for the environment drove her to learn a new skill and launch a business with a mission to create positive change in the fashion industry. She goes beyond providing upcycled clothing alternatives to her peers, but also utilizes her platform to educate individuals on the dangers of supporting a fast fashion lifestyle. We spoke with Lucy about her experience as a young entrepreneur and the future of her business, Sustainable Stitches.
Tell us a little about your journey to entrepreneurship.
During my freshman year at Laurel School I joined a program called Capstone which invites students to explore and develop a three-year long project. The focus for my project was entrepreneurship and I started by participating in various Shark Tank style pitch contests to grow my entrepreneurial skills. I was interested in exploring the fashion industry’s negative impact on the environment and I saw the need for more opportunities for teens to shop sustainably. After researching I found that most sustainable stores do not have affordable teen clothing. This is when I knew I had to create sustainable sweatshirts. Almost a year ago I began learning how to embroider and developed my business plan. I have also started an Instagram account, which highlights sustainable brands and gives teenagers advice on sustainable living. I launched a Depop account where I sell and market my sweatshirts, in addition to selling at farmers markets.
Who helped you get started as an entrepreneur?
I’ve had so many influential mentors who have helped shape my project, many of whom are in my school community. They guided me through various entrepreneurial events and activities, connected me with Laurel alumni and other local art entrepreneurs, including Shayna Fowler who I worked alongside one summer. She is experienced in the social entrepreneurship field and together we developed my brand and thought through what I wanted my business to stand for.
What impact do you hope to have with Sustainable Stitches?
I hope that Sustainable Stitches educates my generation on ethical consumption and being a conscious consumer. I really want my peers to be knowledgeable on sustainability through fashion and I hope shopping and following Sustainable Stitches is an easy way for my peers to do that. Sustainability is something I’m so passionate about and I hope that I am able to use my skills to influence others and create even the smallest of changes in our environment.
What are you currently doing and where do you hope to see your business in the future?
Currently I am prepping for a spring and summer relaunch of Sustainable Stitches. I am creating new designs and working really hard on drafting strong and informative posts for my Instagram. In the future I hope to create more detailed and fun designs. I would love to collaborate with other small teen businesses, and I want to grow my social media platform as much as I can!
You recently had the opportunity to sell your product at the Shaker Farmers Market, how was your experience?
The market went really well, and I was able to sell 7 sweatshirts total! I had a great Laurel crowd, but I also was able to expand my market to an older audience!
What are the biggest challenges you face as an entrepreneur and how do you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges for me as an entrepreneur has been confidence. I have spent so much time and energy on all my products and when they aren’t selling or gaining interest it dampens my confidence a little. Overcoming this challenge of not seeing immediate results or interests has taken a while. I was able to overcome this by not focusing on other brands or trying to seek immediate results, but rather taking my time and feeling confident in what I do early on. Through this challenge I believe I have come out more confident with my work and I have a deeper understanding of patience and knowing that you aren’t always going to see positive results immediately.
Do you find value in using an entrepreneurial mindset in other settings besides your business?
Teaching myself how to embroider really helped me realize that not knowing everything or how to do something should never stop you from trying to achieve what you want. When I don’t know something or I want to get better at something, I know nothing is stopping me. Thinking outside the box and always thinking of ways to solve problems is useful in a classroom but also in the real world.
What advice do you have for other students who are interested in starting a business or developing an idea?
I would tell other students to have fun. Because I have fun with my embroidery and I’m so passionate about sustainability in my business, I never feel like what I’m doing is work. So, to other students looking for advice I would say, do something that you love and have fun!