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Meet Sue Stemp of St. Roche in Laurel Canyon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sue Stemp.

Sue, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Founded in 2014 by myself and my husband Paud Roche, St. Roche is a responsibly designed and manufactured, trans-seasonal brand based in Los Angeles. Our vision is to create beautiful handcrafted clothes designed for a modern woman who cares that what she wears reflects her values and lifestyle.

I was born and raised in rural Southern England, I’m a fashion designer and member of the CFDA with extensive industry experience. After moving to London to study fashion, graduating with a First Class BA Honors degree in Fashion Design, I began my career working for the innovative British fashion label Ghost. In 1995 I moved to New York to explore new opportunities, which included stints at Daryl K, Tocca and Alexander McQueen, where I worked on design research for his Fall ‘05 collection. Subsequently I met Paud, the son of architect Kevin Roche, who encouraged me to launch my namesake label Sue Stemp, which sold successfully internationally, showed on the runway during New York fashion week and attracted a celebrity following.

In 2009 we moved to Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles with our small family. Now a working mother of two, I felt I no longer had a wardrobe versatile enough for our lifestyle and found a real need in the market for relaxed, feminine, and unique clothes that are affordable and sustainably produced. Inspired by our global influences, personal ethics and shared love of handcrafted textiles, St. Roche was launched. The collection is worn by celebrities, high profile women and influencers, including Liv Tyler, Gwyneth Paltrow, Olivia Wilde, Helena Christiansen and Karlie Kloss amongst others.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The most difficult part of our journey is right now with the pandemic. Previous to Covid-19, I would say that the biggest hurdle has been storytelling, and getting our message about responsible design and manufacturing across to our customers, especially when wholesaling. Trying to explain that we use certified organic cotton and work with skilled artisans as much as possible, who hand craft our textile designs, has been a challenge.

St. Roche – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’ve been working in the fashion industry for a long time now and have built up a strong and select network of talented and reliable manufacturing partners. I travel to India at least once a year and work with them directly, I’m very hands-on. This saves so much time, as sometimes ideas and designs can get a little mis-interpreted via tech-packs and it’s a slow development process. Also the face- to face contact and getting direct input back is invaluable. Generally the artisans we work with have a traditional craft and skill that they’re proud of, and are open to seeing how this can be modernized and used in a non-traditional way, and hopefully be profitable to them and their community too. We choose our manufacturing partners in India and Peru very carefully, working directly with them where possible, only working with small factories/family and women run businesses that are ethical and compliant. Our supply chain is short, and I see first-hand how and where our clothes are made. One of our partners for example runs a small organic farm and creche alongside his workshop and another started a women’s embroidery collective, paying 3 x the minimum state wage and educating these local workers in an old and regional skill. Sharing a vision with who we work with is a high priority. Our design references are inspired by my English heritage, the time we spent in New York together and now with our family in LA, and I think they all add an interesting and unique element to the St. Roche aesthetic.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Being happy and proud of your work.

Pricing:

  • Organic cotton tops with Broderie Anglaise from $198 – $245
  • Organic cotton dresses from $248 -425, with hand prints and hand embroidery
  • Aplaca sweaters $380

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Demetra Mazria
Alex Freund

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