We sat down with our client Claudia Hesleden, the founder of ÉCH Apparel, who talked us through the story behind her brand and her latest collection she made with us.
A brief introduction of who you are and your brand, values and philosophy.
ÉCH apparel was born through years of passion for climbing and bouldering. Myself, Claudia Hesleden, founded ÉCH after climbing for over 15 years. I realised one day on a slippy slab in the Chamonix Valley that there was a need to simplify movement, to make moves more efficient and to bring something new to the market. That's where our journey started. Our brand is all about creating effortless efficiency during those harder movements. We want to create clothing that not only supports, but also aids you in ticking off those projects, whether that be from providing the stretch to get that heel high, or the additional chalk to stop you slipping on that slab.
What type of garments have you created and who are they aimed at? Who can wear your garments?
Our garments are aimed at climbers, created by climbers for climbers, but also for anyone who wants to feel comfortable and confident in their sporting apparel. They leggings and soon to be shorts, and designed specifically to help aid the chalking motion that climbers go through. Making this more efficient by placing it on the thigh of the climber rather than in the traditional chalk bag at the back of the waist.
What makes your brand unique?
Our chalking technology has not been created before, it's brand new to the market and is aimed at disrupting the current traditional methods of chalking. We want to be innovative in our garment creations as we continue to develop our range. Using our knowledge of climbing, but also branching into new markets such as crossfit and weightlifting, where chalking is as important to them.
When did you know was the right time to start your own business and create a clothing collection for the first time?
I don't know if there is ever a 'right' time. I put it off for a good couple of months, filled with self-doubt about the commitment I was about to make. For those of you who don't know, creating a clothing collection comes with some upfront costs, and therefore a lot of risk and uncertainty. But, and it's a big BUT. If you don't try you'll just never know. I was confident in my product, and figured the rest can be worked out along the way. We are far from perfect, and we've got a long way to go, but everyday is a new opportunity to learn and I think if you go in with the mindset that some days will be great and some days not so, but that you are learning along the way, then you'll do just fine.
What's been the best thing about creating a clothing collection?
This one is easy, it's got to be seeing people wearing and enjoying your garments. Walking into a competition hosted at a local wall and seeing 4 pairs of my leggings being worn was quite something. Everytime you get a great review, or a cool picture of someone in them it takes all the hardship away and you are left with the most positive feeling.
What's the most valuable lesson you've learnt throughout the whole process?
That nothing goes perfectly. That'll you find things are wrong, even if you thought you triple checked them. But ultimately it's not the end of the world and often there is a simple solution if you look wide enough. Also that selling and changing mindsets isn't as easy as I thought it would be, but if you believe it anything can happen, even if it takes longer than you would like.
What's the one advice you would give someone who wants to start their own business and create a clothing collection?
Have belief in yourself. It's a competitive market, you're not going to be a millionaire overnight. It's a real journey, it has highs and massive highs, but it has lows and you have to be able to deal with them and push through.
What are your plans for the future of ÉCH Apparel?
We are looking at growing our garments range, with the mens shorts, sports bra and then into other legging variations.