Alexis Damen, writer, photographer, clothing designer, and all around creative, shares her journey and advice with us. Her Boss Babe vibes are showing so buckle up for a motivating ride!
So you're both a clothing designer and writer. Do you feel like the two ever intertwine, or are they pretty separate?
That's right. Writing is a new endeavor for me. I'm a freelance content writer for the Shopify Retail Blog. And, I also contribute to BossBabe, and Thrive Global. While designing and writing are both creative, the process is very different. They do intertwine, not because of the process, but because I am writing about retail, entrepreneurship, creativity, and more topics that I am an "expert" in due to the experience I have from starting and growing my own business and working in fashion for over 10 years.
I think it's amazing that your size range goes up to 3X. You don't see that in a lot of activewear brands. Can you tell us about making that decision?
My brand has always been about inclusivity. From the start, I was photographing my line on women of all shapes and sizes—adding plus sizes was a natural extension of my mission to empower women to feel happy, healthy, and beautiful in their own skin. I just had to wait until I built up the brand a bit before I could afford to extend my offering.
Where do you seek inspiration for your designs?
From the women around me, travel, and New York City (the best city in the world!)
Where do you seek inspiration for your writing?
Also from the women around me. One of my favorite experiences about starting my own company is meeting so many other women who are also chasing their dreams. Being an entrepreneur forces you to get out there, meet new people, and build your network—it's great!
Can you tell us more about your brand's charity involvement with Material For The Arts?
As a small (pretty much one woman show) it has not always been easy to sell through ALL of my inventory by the end of the season, or use up all of my fabric yardages. Rather than tossing it and filling up yet another landfill, I donate leftover stock and fabric to Materials for the Arts, an organization that collects a wide variety of reusable materials from businesses and individuals and makes them available, free of charge, to nonprofits and government organizations with arts programming as well as New York City public schools. It's nice to know that I'm not being wasteful and that what I created is being repurposed.
You're taking a bit of a break from the activewear brand right now, right? What are your goals with focusing on photography and writing for the moment?
Yes, I am taking a break from my line this season. It was a very hard decision that took me almost a year of contemplation before I finally decided to take an "official" break. As far as goals go, I'm trying not to be too hard on myself (as I have been for the past four years with my line). I don't want to burn out again. As a photographer, I work primarily with brands and influencers to create beautiful content that tells their story. I truly love to see people light up in front of my camera — the process of shooting from start to finish and the chemistry that builds over time between a photographer and their clients is pretty cool. I launched a new project called All Natural Project. ANP celebrates women through natural light photography and honest words. I don't use artificial lighting or photoshop. The positive feedback on this project has motivated me to hold open studio sessions. Women can show up to have their #AllNaturalProjectWomen portraits taken. The next two will be in August (in Seattle) and November (in New York). As far as writing goes, my goal is to share as much as possible about my experience as an entrepreneur so I can hopefully help and inspire other entrepreneurs to chase their dreams and keep on hustling. I also offer a number of services related to social media, influencer marketing, and content creation. While my line is on hold, I don't think my entrepreneurship journey is over. Stay tuned.
Thanks to Alexis for this interview and showing us all how to pursue every dream we have! Make sure to follow Alexis Damen on all her socials and website! Instagram, Facebook, and Website!
All images via Alexis Damen