When we were approached by fellow Girl Boss, Angela Sison, of Conrado Clothing we were thrilled! When we checked out Conrado’s site we immediately vibed with their aesthetic and mission. Specifically this; “She knew she wanted her fabrics to be natural and textured and thinks of her pieces as New England meets the Tropics with the effortless California vibe.” I grew up on Cape Cod and Tracy takes an annual trip to Martha’s Vineyard every year, and now we are both on the West Coast- making this a collab we couldn’t pass up!
Conrado practices eco responsibility by using deadstock fabrics! If you’re not familiar, deadstock fabrics are discarded by companies due to a matter of reasons like: slight imperfections, overstock of materials, or the textile is no longer in season. I’m wearing the Carmela Apron Dress in these photos and it is such an easy, fun piece. I have worn it to the beach as a cover up but also paired with some wedges and a straw bag for a nice out.
We were lucky enough to interview Angela from Conrado! Read our Q&A to hear more about how Conrado got started and how Angela handles being a one-woman show! Also..she’s spilling her Martha’s Vineyard favorite secret spots!
The girls: Can you tell us how you got into sustainable fashion?
Angela: I’ve worked and grew up in the industry but never thought what I would be doing now was considered sustainable fashion. My mother owned a small garment manufactory in the Philippines and there was always excess fabrics from their export orders. My mom always encouraged me to reuse these fabrics for personal projects growing up. I would make pillows, pouches and dresses for myself and friends when I was young. This way stuck to me when I went to fashion school in California. I would make a point to try and use the overrun fabric instead of buying new materials for school projects.
When I started working in the industry, it was when I realized how much waste is created as fashion brands keep creating new designs in such a fast-paced manner. I always felt there was a need for these excess materials to be used instead collecting dust or be tossed away. I knew there was still life to them and there is still a use for it.
When I was planning out Conrado, I decided to design using deadstock fabrics. It is a conscious fashion movement and I take joy in recreating life in these materials that are already considered waste. It challenges me as a designer because I design with what materials I have.
The girls: People are definitely starting to make more conscious decisions when it comes to fashion and knowing where their garments come from. Have you always shopped sustainably?
Angela: I can’t say that I’ve always shopped 100% sustainably. Growing up, I did not know what living sustainably meant and I was not informed of the all the impact products we use on the daily have. Living in the city can make it challenging with a wide variety of choices when shopping. Most of the time you would choose the cheaper product to save money and there is that need for instant gratification.
The past few years, I have educated myself by looking into ways of sustainable living. I’ve made conscious decisions on which products to consume and just being aware of the actions I do.
The girls: How many years old is Conrado and how many employees do you currently have?
Angela: Conrado is about to turn 1! Right now, I am a one-woman team with the help of many amazing people in my life. When I am in the workshop in the Philippines designing a new collection, I work closely with the artisans. They also keep me updated on what is going on when I am not in the Philippines. I’ve also met many people who are are in full support of what I do with Conrado and who are always willing to help in hand in any way they can – from helping set-up at pop-ups, new marketing ideas, and for mentorship. I also surround myself with like-minded entrepreneurs and fellow girl bosses and keep a collaborative and supportive community going.
The girls: Conrado is bicoastal just like us! What’s something you love about the East Coast and the West Coast?
Angela: I was living in San Francisco before moving to the East Coast last summer. What I loved about living there is the temperate weather all year round! But living in the East now, I’m enjoying the change of the seasons. I finally had a real summer where water was warm enough for weeks and I did not have to wait for SF’s Indian summers for a beach day! I find road trips in New England fascinating that I can go through three states in a day but there is something special about driving along West Coast’s Highway 1. I highly recommend road trips along this scenic route. And I love tacos from West but nothing beats pizza from New York!
The girls: What is the biggest challenge in running your own business?
Angela: Being self-employed can be lonely having to make all decisions by yourself. It can be tough adjusting your time to each task you have to do especially being a one-woman team right now. New challenges and obstacles come up often. All these you have to manage and learn to trust yourself. You learn time management to juggle all these. It also helps to surround myself with fellow entrepreneurs and girl bosses. You can learn a lot from them and support one another!
The girls: Social media has really changed the way brands and designers interact with the general public. Do you think social media has more advantages or disadvantages when it comes to representing your brand voice?
Angela: I only think of positive points of how social media affect new brands. There are definitely more advantages if you use your social media correctly. Social media give me the ability to connect instantly with my Conradao girls. You get to represent your brand through creative stories that connects to your audience right away. To be able to share the story of Conrado using the social media platform is something that I’m thankful for. Without it, I would’nt have been able to grow Conrado at this pace!
The girls: We LOVE us a Martha’s Vineyard trip! What’s your favorite shops and restaurants on island?
Angela: Each town has some great spots! Chilmark’s General store has some great pizza and a fish sandwich from The Bite in Menemsha is my staple when I’m out there to see the sunset during summer nights. Way up island there’s a small bakery Orange Peel and I recommend all their hand made bread and pastries. At West Tisbury, there’s always 7A for their famous Liz Lemon sandwich and State Road for a great dinner out! Other options for a dinner out is 20byNine or Down Island in Oak Bluffs. Don’t forget Back Doors Donuts for your late night desert. When you’re heading out to Chappy, grab some sandwiches from Black Sheep or Rosewater in Edgartown. And before you get on the Steamship Authority walk up to Vineyard Haven’s Main Street. You’ll find small boutiques like Citrine and Brickyard. There’s also some thrifting in Vineyard Haven at the Chicken Alley Thrift Store! Or find some inspiration and gifts at Morrice Florist’s shop – don’t forget to step in the greenhouse!
The girls: We’ve been LOVING us some Pinterest lately. Where do you find fresh trend inspo that feels fresh and not copied?
Angela: I am on Pinterest and it’s great for organizing all the inspirations I find on the website. I wouldn’t know what I’d do without it!
I get my fresh ideas from all the traveling I do. I’m lucky enough that I can easily go to NYC for a few days when I need to, head back to San Francisco or journey around Asia. I’m constantly on the move and expose myself to different cultures. There is a lot that I get to take in visually and a diverse amount of people I get see and be inspired by! Conrado is designed for adventurous women and I get to design some versatile, simple and comfy pieces.
The girls: What is your advice for girls and young women who are interested in a career in fashion or entrepreneurship in general?
Angela: I’m a firm believer that you should never stop learning. I make it a point to join workshop to learn more about running a small business like tax and marketing practices. When I was young I knew that I wanted to be part of the fashion world. I interned with several designers while in school and worked in different fashion departments from merchandising to design. Now starting my brand Conrado, I can apply what I’ve learn from these experiences to the brand from my e-commerce experience, being knowledgeable speaking with vendors and applying design practices.
I feel that if you’re going for something you want, go at it with your all and be ready for any curve balls it will throw. Good or bad- experience is everything!