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Conversations with Lauren Barnett

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Barnett.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’ve loved fashion for as long as I can remember. I don’t know any other six years old that got up early on Saturday morning to watch “Style with Elsa Klensch” on CNN. I love good design, especially in clothing. I love seeing the energy shift in a person when they put on a new piece of clothing that you can tell makes them feel amazing. I graduated from fashion school and moved to LA from Chicago 15 years ago. Since then, I’ve worked as a costume fabricator for both live-action and stop motion (miniature costumes), had a line of 1950s-inspired dresses and aprons, and worked in the beauty industry. Five years ago, I started reflecting on what I was really passionate about. It’s really important to me to make and sell things that aren’t harmful to people, animals, or the planet, but the fashion industry can be a pretty gross place, particularly in terms of sustainability and inclusivity. So I opened my online shop Juniper in the fall of 2019 and launched my clothing line Lauren Chapman two years later.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I’m running a very small, independent fashion business that I decided to start during a global pandemic, it definitely has not been a smooth road. It’s important to me to create ethical, sustainable clothing that is well-made, beautiful, and people are excited to wear. Fast fashion has drastically changed the mindset of the consumer to expect very low prices without considering the actual cost to people, animals, and the planet. I think it’s important for all of us as consumers to think about the total impact of our purchases. I believe that it’s possible to build a wardrobe of pieces that you love and want to wear again and again using a combination of sustainable brands with second-hand and vintage pieces. It feels important to share that message compassionately at a time when many people, myself included, are feeling some uncertainty about their future, economically and otherwise. Maybe attempting to shift the mindset of an entire group of consumers is a lofty goal for a small independent business, but I’m happy to take part in the effort, along with some other fantastic Los Angeles-based small businesses that share and support this philosophy.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m the founder of Juniper and the designer behind Lauren Chapman. Juniper is a curated online shop that features home goods, accessories, and apparel. Everything we stock is vegan, cruelty-free, and eco-conscious. Last fall, I launched Lauren Chapman, my dream clothing collection. It’s inspired by my love of Los Angeles in the 1960s-70s and chic, effortless French style. It also adheres to the same ethical principles as Juniper. Our first collection is made entirely from deadstock fabrics, and we will continue to incorporate deadstock fabrics in future collections. It was incredibly important to me to have an inclusive size range. We currently stock sizes XS-3X and plan to expand that in the future. We also design and produce all our pieces in small batches right here in LA. We work directly with local, independent contractors for the production of our garments, so we can be sure the people making our pieces are paid fairly and treated well. We also donate 3% of online sales to animal rescues & farm sanctuaries. I’m so grateful to get to do what I love while supporting people, brands, and causes I believe in.

What are your plans for the future?
My new collection for Lauren Chapman will be released through Juniper this fall. It will include fall mini-dresses, separates, and perhaps even a midi-length dress (something much requested). We’re working on getting the line into brick-and-mortar boutiques starting in 2023. I’d love to release a small bridal collection and design a collaboration with a vegan shoe line at some point. We are working towards order fulfillment using carbon-neutral shipping. We are also always looking for new vegan, cruelty-free, eco-conscious brands to add to our online shop.

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Image Credits
Photographer: Emma Lauren Photography Makeup Artist: Danielle Baum Models: Liz Gunnell + Averi Camille

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