People 17 January 2019
Established around the mission to set a new standard for clothing, using technical fabrics, a conscious supply chain (direct-to-consumer) and innovative production process, ADAY and its founders quickly gained recognition for disrupting the fashion industry with their minimalist, meaningful designs.
ADAY's latest label, Plant Bae, is an ode to their commitment to unique production and a responsible standard, combining beech trees and seaweed to create their first plant-based fabric.
“We're continually challenging ourselves to innovate further towards a sustainable supply chain and are always exploring new resources to potentially use," says ADAY's founders, Meg He and Nina Faulhaber. Both He and Faulhaber believe in the ability to do more with less, which is also why they developed ADAY to simplify the common woman wardrobe hurdles.
The fabric is MicroModal, from the wood pulp of beech trees, blended with Icelandic seaweed fibers. Garnering inspiration from the environment spotlights both the opportunity to utilize renewable resources, as well as the positive effect of harvesting seaweed as a carbon-negative activity.
Available in three tops, the tank, t-shirt, and turtleneck satisfy the seasonal wardrobe staples and maintain ADAY's mission of simplicity. We caught up with He and Faulhaber to learn more about the motivation behind the collection, sourcing the correct materials to create Plant Bae's fabrics (which are insanely soft) and how this eco-conscious decision goes way beyond fashion.
Sustainability has always been at the forefront of ADAY's mission, but when did you decide to take it a step further and create clothing from plant-based fabrics?
ADAY: We were looking to create our first plant-based fabric but did not want to use cotton as cotton is not very sustainable. So we embarked on a journey to find a more sustainable alternative. ADAY's first plant-based fabric is a sustainable MicroModal derived from wood pulp from beech trees blended with Icelandic seaweed fibers. It's a blend that's 90% plant based with its main ingredients being sustainably sourced and manmade made (cellulosics).
Tell me about the process and the challenges to take it from paper to production?
ADAY: Our process starts with intentional design fusing simplicity and versatility. Marrying classic silhouettes with clean lines, we include only the details that are truly necessary. With each new design, we ask: How will we make our favorite staples better? How will we make them last?
Instead of following seasonal trends, we spend our time perfecting the pieces our customers love through wear-testing, customer feedback + experimentation. This allows us to keep improving each of our pieces so they can be loved even more.
What made you decide to source beech trees and seaweed for this first collection? Were there other resources considered?
ADAY: We wanted a fabric that was comfortable, soft and versatile yet felt luxurious, and matched our sustainability requirements.
MicroModal from beachwood trees is derived in a closed-loop system and has proven to be a more sustainable and better alternative to cotton. On top of that seaweed is a fun and versatile plant we are excited by. Most of the world's oxygen (about 70%) comes from seaweed, and it also makes up roughly nine tenths of all the plant-like life on Earth. Many seaweeds also contain anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agents.
Even though the seaweed content itself is small (it acts more of a “booster" ingredient) we love that the collection shines a light on this important renewable resource.
Photo Courtesy of ADAY
Why was Plant Bae an important next step for the company?
ADAY: The collection shines a light on an important renewable resource: seaweed ecosystems are carbon-negative, and can take up to 20 times more carbon dioxide emissions out of the air than land-based forests.
And why is sustainability so important to you outside the company?
Nina: After buying a lot in my teens, and getting rid of a ton of stuff in my twenties, I adopted a much more minimalist mindset, caring more about experiences than the things I owned. With that, I also started to think a lot more about great product design and ADAY—and our beautifully minimal, yet versatile capsule—became the ultimate minimalist's dream. A few months after launching ADAY, a trip into nature, a lot of self reflection and reading two books (“Let My People Go Surfing" by Yves Chouinard and “The Upcycle" by Michael Braungart and William McDonough) truly opened my eyes about the impact business can have. Now, I couldn't imagine creating a product or company that wasn't focus on creating a better future.
Meg: In everything we do at ADAY, we consciously choose it. I think that's so important in how we live—that we choose how each part of our life fits into who we are. My partner and I made a choice this year to buy an old yellow school bus and reuse it—to convert it into a mobile, 198-square-foot solar powered home. This choice, of reuse and sustainability and custom design and self-build, made so much more sense to us than renting an apartment.
In many ways I am a shining example of the American Dream. I was born in Hungary during the Communist era, and my family fled to Israel before coming to the U.S. in pursuit of freedom and safety. When we arrived, I was just a young, shy girl who couldn't speak English. After my childhood in Hungary, New York City was a marvel; I couldn't believe that such a lively, rich place existed. Even a simple thing like going to the market and seeing all the bright, colorful produce and having so many choices was new to me. I'll never take that for granted. I think it's where my love affair with color truly began.
One thing I had was a strong work ethic. I worked hard in school, to learn English, and at jobs including my first job at Dairy Queen -- which I loved! Ice cream is easily my favorite food. From there, I moved into the garment district where my brother-in-law's family had a business. During this time, I was able to see how a business was run and began to hone in on my eye for aesthetics and willingness to work hard at any task I was given.
Eventually, my brother-in-law bought a dental supply company in Los Angeles and asked me to join him. LA, a place with 365-days of sunshine. How could I say no? The company started as Odontorium Products Inc. During the acrylic movement of the 1980s, we realized that nail technicians were buying our product, and that the same components used for dentures were used for artificial nails. We saw a potential opening in the market, and we seized it. OPI began dropping off the "rubber band special" at every salon on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles. A jar of powder, liquid and primer – rubber-banded together – became the OPI Traditional Acrylic System and was a huge hit, giving OPI its start in the professional nail industry. It was 1981 when OPI first opened its doors. I couldn't have predicted our success, but I knew that hard work and faith in myself would be key in transforming a new business into a company with global reach.
When we started OPI, what we were doing was something new. Before OPI came on the scene, the generic, utilitarian nail polish names already on the market – like Red No. 4, Pink No. 2 – were completely forgettable. We rebranded the category with catchy names that we knew women could relate to and would remember. The industry was stale and boring, so we made it more fun and sexy. We started creating color collections. I carefully developed 30 groundbreaking colors for the debut collection -- many of which are still beloved bestsellers today, including Malaga Wine, Alpine Snow and Kyoto Pearl.
There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does.
With deep roots in Tinseltown, we eventually started collaborating with Hollywood. Our decision to collaborate with the entertainment industry also propelled OPI forward in another way, ultimately leading us to finding a way to connect with women beyond the world of beauty, relating our products to the beverages they drink, the cars they drive, the movies they watch, the clothes they wear – even the shade they use to paint their living room walls! There is no other nail color brand in the world that touches the totality of industries the way OPI does. It also propelled my growth as a businessperson forward. I found myself sitting in meetings with executives from some of the top companies in the world. I didn't have a fancy presentation. I didn't have a Harvard business degree. I realized that what I had was passion. I had a passion for what we were doing, and I had my own unique story that no one else could replicate.
Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today
Bit by bit, I grew up with the business. Discipline, hard work, and passion gave me the confidence to grow from that shy immigrant girl to become the person that I am today -- an author, public speaker, and co-founder of OPI, the world's #1 professional nail brand.
I learned quickly that one can be an expert at many things, but not everything. Running a business is very hard work. Luckily, I had someone I could collaborate with who brought something new to the table and complemented my talents, my brother-in-law George Schaeffer. My business "superpower," or the ability to make decisions quickly and confidently, kept me ahead of trends and competition.
Another key to my success in building this brand and in growing in business was being authentic. Authenticity is so important to brands and maybe even more so now in the time of social media when you can speak directly to your consumers. I realized even then that I could only be me. I was a woman who knew what I wanted. I looked at my mother and daughter and wanted to create products that would excite and empower them.
There's often an expectation placed on women in charge that they need to be cutthroat to be competitive, but that's not true. Rather than focusing on my gender or any implied limitations I might bring to the job as a female and a mother, I always focused instead on my vision. I deliberately fostered an environment at OPI filled with warmth. After all, at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as its people. I've always found that being nice, being humble, and listening to others has served me well. Instead of pushing others down to get to the top, inspire them and bring them along on the journey.
You can read more about my personal and professional journey in my new memoir out now, I'm Not Really a Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry One Color at a Time.