TNFN meets Paula, Sheer Apparel

TNFN meets Paula, Sheer Apparel

{ Flow Dress by Jan ‘N June on Sheer Apparel }

In the second instalment of ‘TNFN meets’ I had a chat with Paula, founder of the beautifully curated webshop Sheer Apparel. While Paula was originally based in London, she’s recently moved to Barcelona. I caught up with her on Skype to chat about her move from a corporate career to being an entrepreneur, the pros and cons of this change, how to make sustainable fashion inspiring for everyone, and how to help push the necessary change in the industry. Read on to learn how Paula stays motivated working with sustainable fashion in an industry where the majority is not, who inspires her and what a typical day looks like. And don’t forget to pop buy her beautiful webshop, I’m sure you’ll find something beautiful for your Christmas wish list.

Q: Where are you from and how did you end up in Barcelona?

A: I recently relocated to Barcelona because my now husband is from here. We just got married and it’s always been the plan to move somewhere smaller than London. But London’s been my home for the past 10 years, so I do miss it. I’ originally from Cologne in Germany, but moved to London for my first job after University. I used to work in finance and London provides a lot of opportunities across different industries. But then, you know, you come with these plans of just staying for a while and then you’ll go back, but after two years, I got a second career opportunity and then 8 years had just passed by. And then last year I decided it was time for a new challenge.

Q: What brought you to sustainable fashion?

A: It was a personal passion and interest. I discovered more and more brands and after a few years I just realised that this is the only way I want to consume fashion. At the same time, I wanted to go from having a career in a large organisation that wasn’t very customer focused to doing something more entrepreneurial and built something I passionately believed in. And those two factors kind of came together and so I left the corporate world last May, started working on this idea and launched it very quickly in the second half of November last year.

Q: How would you describe Sheer Apparel? And how is it different from other webshops?

A: We’ve grown quite fast in terms of discovering new brands from all over Europe, which enables our customers to find brands from all across Europe. In terms of curating what we sell, I came to it from a quite personal point of view; there are a few webshops that I loved shopping from and that are doing an amazing job, but what I was really missing was really great sophisticated everyday wear for women in a corporate job; things that might be a little more classic. I wouldn’t call it conservative, but chicer and more timeless and I didn’t find anything I could wear to work from the existing webshops. So, while we also stock some leisurewear, I try to look at it with my customer in mind; who are women in their late 20ies to late 30ies perhaps with a more corporate career, but who are also interested in social impact. We do stock garments for every occasion, but that’s the direction I want to grow the webshop in.

TNFN meets Paula, Sheer Apparel

{ Benete Jumpsuit by Armed Angels on Sheer Apparel

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

A: (laughs) When you’re the sole-founder of a new business you do everything; there are lots of little things. But, at the moment I’m talking with a lot of new brands, so I have calls with them, I have samples to look at. I’ve also just done a shoot for the curated capsule collection we’ve just released. And then connecting with bloggers. Basically, just trying to spread the word as much as I can, and trying to make the website look as beautiful as possible.

Q: is there a brand you really want on your webshop?

A: I really love Aiayu. I love their garments and what they do, but I find them a little bit expensive. I know sustainable fashion does come at a higher price point, but I also want to make it accessible, so I’m holding back a little bit on that one. I’m honestly looking at so many beautiful brands all the time.

Q: Working with sustainability in an industry where the majority is not, how do you stay motivated?

A: Honestly, I’m just so motivated by the brands and their founders that I work with. I could go on and on about one of the latest brands we’ve just added to the site. I often get approached by brands that don’t fit with our ethos or style, but I also get to work with some truly amazing brands. Most of them are also small companies that have chosen this much, much harder thing to do than just getting a job somewhere, because they are so passionate about it and that motivates me. Of course, I also get frustrated when the fashion industry is going on and on about the latest trends, but there are so many stories to tell, so I don’t find it hard to stay motivated.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with Sheer Apparel in the next five years?

A: I really hope to excite more women about sustainable fashion. That’s really my mission. I never lecture and would never say; ‘oh you must change your whole wardrobe. Or you can only buy three pieces a year’. It’s not like that. I find it inspiring when I get feedback from people who didn’t realise these things about fashion and then make changes because of this knowledge. That’s really what I hope to achieve.

TNFN meets Paula, Sheer Apparel

{ Ilsa Abstract Pattern Cardigan by Armed Angels on Sheer Apparel }

Q: What is the first thing one can do if one wants to build a sustainable wardrobe

A: Watch “The True Cost” because it will change how you see the fashion industry and once you’ve seen it, you can’t un-see it. Read the label when you go shopping, because then you’ll realise that most of the things you find in high street shops are mostly made from plastic. 

Q: What are the best thing about running your own business / what are the most challenging?

A: The best thing is that you get to work on something that you fully believe in. Having a corporate career can teach you so much from working with others, but it doesn’t provide you with the opportunity to learn in the same timeframe. Setting up a business teaches you so much, which you wouldn’t learn anywhere else.

The worst thing, I think every sole founder will tell you; is that it can at times be incredibly lonely. While I have so much freedom and opportunity to also meet other super inspiring founders because I set my own agenda, building your own business is rough and it takes time and there’s no one to thank you for all your hard work, you have to do that yourself.

TNFN meets Paula, Sheer Apparel

{ Cici Lambswool Jumper Blue by Maska on Sheer Apparel }

Q: Who are the three most inspiring people within the sustainable fashion industry in your opinion?

A: Safia Minney has been so relentless in her energy of driving the topic forwards for so many years and she’s been able to build some really inspiring things. She’s really inspiring because it must have been so difficult at the beginning when no one was talking about this, and she’s really stuck to her guns and is such a great spokesperson.

I would also say the people I work with, the people behind the brands, because it’s a really difficult thing to do in an industry where people are very price conscious and look at the price first and the garment second. I really love the women behind the brand AmaElla. They are so driven and they can tell you so many things about their products. And their products are amazing. So, I find them really inspiring and I love working with them.

I also think Livia Firth is relentless in her campaigning. She doesn’t need to do this, but she has for so long and from so many different angles. She definitely inspires me.


Keep up with Sheer Apparel on social media:

Facebook: SheerApparel

Twitter: @SheerApparel

Instagram: Sheer_Apparel



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