Today we’d like to introduce you to Leah Piehl.
Leah, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started Chaboukie when my son was about 18 months old. I was inspired by the dearth of affordable, gender neutral clothes for boys on the market. Because of my career as a costume designer, I knew my way around a sewing machine and started making leggings for my son. I loved dressing him in plain grey t-shirts and printed leggings.
My friends started to notice and began asking me to make leggings for their kids. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed a website and a series of cute fabrics to make my leggings from. I remembered a place in downtown LA that sold dead-stock fabric. For those that don’t know, dead stock is a term used to describe fabric that was produced but never cut or sewn.
Instead of dumping it into a landfill, it gets sold to a dealer specialized exclusively in deadstock fabrics. I found about six printed jerseys, brought them home, made a single sample of each for my website and started selling made-to-order leggings. Relatively quickly I switched my model from made-to-order to factory production and added a full collection of styles. I’ve tried a lot and over the past six years, including wholesaling to boutiques around the world.
The market has changed, and there are many more brands providing gender-neutral options for kids. I think what sets Chaboukie apart now is that we are now focusing on our direct to consumer pipeline and being as sustainable as possible. There is so much waste in the fashion industry that what I’m striving to do is minimize that by continuing to produce exclusively in Los Angeles, using sustainable materials and responding more organically to customer demand.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In addition to Chaboukie, I am a working costume designer and mother of two young kids. My career in theater and my family alone are a lot, then add a clothing business to the mix – things can get messy. I was doing everything myself for a very long time.
The design, the production, marketing, social media, and fulfillment. It took me several years to finally hire a team that would alleviate the stress of getting everything done myself. Today I have an amazing team in place helping me in all areas of the business, and we are much stronger for as a result.
Chaboukie – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Chaboukie is known for making simple but stylish clothes for kids. I choose prints that I would wear – classic, playful and sophisticated. I also love muted or “dusty” colorways. I think this attracts parents who are looking for something a little different from most kids clothing on the market.
Also, everything is sourced and made in LA which makes Chaboukie sustainable. We are committed to finding a way to bring sustainable and affordable kids clothing to market and providing families with an option other than fast-fashion retailers.
- Website: http://www.chaboukie.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @chaboukie
- Facebook: Facebook/chaboukie
Cameron Jordan, Rebecca Fishman