During my competitive career as a figure skater I was fortunate enough to travel to many different countries around the world. From Nice (southern France) all the way to Brisbane, Australia (and pretty much all the countries in between). I loved traveling, however, living out of a suitcase… not so much. My skates and costumes not only weighed a lot, but they also took up a lot of room, so figuring out what to pack was always a hassle. I usually ended up packing way too much because I couldn’t decide what to bring. I desperately needed a packing magician, or so I thought.
When I was asked to interview founder and CEO of Encircled, Kristi Soomer, I was very excited. After browsing her website for about 5 minutes I immediately asked myself… WHY DIDN’T I FIND THIS WOMAN SOONER?!?! Now, instead of introducing her as Kristi Soomer, I’d like for you to meet the packing magician. So here it is: 101 Travel Light & Save the Planet
Kristi studied business in undergrad and grad school, so her background isn’t fashion per se. She originally started Encircled because she was traveling extensively in her previous career as a management consultant and could not find stylish and versatile travel clothing. Unlike me (who just constantly complained to his parents about there not being enough room in his suitcase), Kristi took matters into her own hands. That is how she created the first design, the Chrysalis Cardi and built the business up from there. Over the years, it’s evolved into more of a fashion line, but it started out with her just feeling driven to solve a problem.
Encircled makes versatile and stylish wardrobe essentials, as well as clothing that helps you travel lighter and do more with less. But Kristi’s line is about more than just producing versatile clothing. Her products are ethical and locally made in Toronto. They are comfortable, travel well, and they are kind to our planet. What more could you want? Her products truly tell a story - every piece is designed to add value to someone’s life.
"I’d like people to become more conscious consumers. We want to encourage women to be more mindful about how they purchase and experience fashion. It’s time for fast fashion to stop. The fast fashion retailers are responsible for immense environmental waste, and even human abuse and exploitation in sweatshops globally. I’d like to see slow fashion - the idea of buying things with thought and breaking out of traditional fashion seasons to become top of mind with consumers."~ Kristi Soomer
Kristi’s customers love the versatility and innovativeness of her designs, but increasingly many customers choose Encircled for ethical reasons— for fabrics (sustainable) and their production (ethically, made in Canada). 100% of her designs are sewn in Toronto, Canada. Recently, Encircled started knitting and dying a portion of their fabric in Toronto as well. (Seriously, how amazing is this?)
When speaking of future plans, Kristi has no shortage of ideas and plans:
"We’re launching three new designs this fall which will take Encircled into more everyday work wear. I just hired a full-time designer on staff, so I expect to see new designs coming out faster and a broader vision for the line going forward. Encircled is also going through a rebrand, so stay tuned as we’ll be rolling that out over the next few months."
"I’d like Encircled to become synonymous with versatile and ethical everyday essentials for women. I have my sights set on big growth and part of that is investigating building our own in-house production facility so that we can fully vertically integrate our business. Doing so would allow us to offer reasonable price points on ethically made apparel as we’ll be able to control quality, quantity and production methods." ~Kristi Soomer
Clothing is something everyone should enjoy. Whether you’re showing off a new dress at work, or rocking a new look on the beach, clothing is meant to make you feel confident. But if for whatever reason you find yourself struggling with what to wear this season (OR WHAT TO PACK), here is what Kristi thinks you should own:
"Versatile essentials. I’m all about investing in fun pieces from time to time but I think the bulk of your clothing budget should be allocated to buying better basics that are ethically-made, produced from quality materials and use quality finishings."
Check out her website at www.encircled.ca and enjoy your future vacations while traveling light and saving the planet.