Eight+Sand embodies what we value at Stripe — well made clothing, ethically sourced materials, and timeless style. In this interview, we talk to the founders of the company, Noushie and Ronda, about the perfect button down, and what it takes to start your own business.
What was it like first starting Eight+Sand?
Honestly, it was amazing, crazy, humbling, inspiring, and really, really overwhelming. We aren’t originally from the apparel industry so we didn’t come up through the design world and learn by osmosis the way you do when you’ve been doing something for a long time — we started from scratch in our forties! We had to learn everything from the ground up, all at once, and in apparel design, that’s no small amount of things. It’s an incredibly complex, nuanced, and often veiled industry that took a lot of sleuthing to navigate. And it’s a very troubled industry as well, so much of what we’d go to the trouble of learning we’d immediately have to scrap and re-learn our own way, so our collection could be in line with not only our aesthetics, but our ethics as well. But it was so worth the effort. There were times we thought, “What the hell have we gotten ourselves into?” But that’s always the case when you’re doing something unfamiliar and exciting. We just kept on through the chaos and one day we looked around and found ourselves on the other side. It’s still very hard work to be sure, but now it’s a little more second nature; the fun-to-work ratio is getting more how we like it.
What are your wardrobe staples?
Our forever go-to’s are: vintage 501s, any good white v-neck tee, vintage overalls (especially the railroad stripe variety), Converse, CYDWOQ shoes, men’s cardigans, and any good hat we can find — we’re a hat family. But it’s funny because so much of our reasoning for starting Eight + Sand was that we weren’t finding staple pieces we loved, so a lot of what we wear now is our own stuff — we live in our samples. Lately it’s the britches we’re about to release and our new seersucker PJs, also coming out soon. Those and a good cardigan is our idea of the perfect outfit.
What goes into designing the perfect button down?
A good button down is all about fit. Fabric matters too of course, but excellent, ethically made twill is the easy part, it’s the fit that took us forever to get right. We are active people, and so are most of the women we know, so we started by adding some breathing room through the shoulders. Most button downs on the market are great if you’re sitting still typing, but go to hug a friend or ride a bike or pick up your kid and forget it, they’re so uncomfortable to move in. We wanted a slightly longer fit for all the same reasons — nothing too long, just not too cropped to move freely in.
We also wanted room through the hips, since this is what makes all those men’s button downs we covet not work on women’s bodies, but we say no to darts, so we had to get really creative with drawing our patterns. We also added hidden buttons on the collar so our shirts could easily move between the tailored look of a pressed collar and the casual look of something looser. Lastly, we wanted classic colors that could be worn with jeans, pants, or dresses. The colors we’re still perfecting and adding to — currently we’re at work on some custom commissions and our dream is to have a large selection with swatches available for order.
How do you like moving between two different cities – Oakland and Austin?
For us, it’s perfect. We both have deep roots in Texas, but our kids go to school here in Oakland (except our daughter in college), so moving between the two feels natural. At this point in our lives, our Texas time is all about respite and recovery — it’s where we go to decompress, to design and to be still. Oakland is the opposite; in Oakland we’re always on the move. It’s where we manufacture and where we spend most of our time, so it’s where the business, the inspiration, and the bustle of kids and work and friends come together with the diversity and energy of the city we love. Together, they make a complete whole for us, fulfilling everything we and our kids need to live full lives.
Lastly, what advice do you have for people who are considering starting their own business?
You’ve gotta love it, plain and simple, because so much of your psychic and physical energy is spent thinking, dreaming, strategizing, imagining and doing for this one thing. A lot of people have told us they want to start their own business so they can work less and we just smile. Work less? Try work constantly. But if you love it, it’s worth it.
From a purely logistical perspective, our advice is to develop a rigorous business plan before you get started. A lot of people think they can just wing it, but a detailed plan is a must for making it happen well. It forces you to figure out if your business is viable, how much capital you’ll need, what cash flow is, what differentiates your product, how you’ll market the business, etc. After that, if you still want to start your project, begin by making a list of everything that has to be done, from getting a business license to finding suppliers, leasing space, photography, building a website etc., and do three things on that list every day. You’ll be amazed by how far your vision and passion will take you.
Lastly, ask yourself, “Does the world need this?” There’s a lot of things the world needs badly, and a lot of things it doesn’t. If you can, be in the first category, it’s the better one to be sure.
Eight+Sand will be having a Pop-Up with us Saturday, August 12th from 2–6pm.