SixChel by Dina Chavez is a brand new ethical womenswear who's launching it's first vegan and sustainable Capsule Collection on May 31st, 2017 with a Kickstarter campaign giving you access to pre-order any pieces of her collection. Read my interview with Dina to know more about the brand and the woman behind it.
Who is Dina Chavez?
Dina Chavez is the founder and designer of SixChel, an ethical and sustainable fashion brand for the modern woman. She studied Costume Design at The University of Texas-Austin and Fashion Design at The Academy of Art University. Ms. Chavez has worked in the fashion industry for 10 years and her looks have been shown at New York Fashion Week, Fashion X Austin, Fashion X Houston, Fashion X Dallas, The Pin Show (Dallas, TX), The Gotham City Films Studio (Los Angeles, CA) and have been created for Austin based rockstar, Kimberly Freeman for the Grammy Awards.
Photo Credit: Dina Chavez
What's the meaning behind SixChel?
Six is the astrological number of the founder and designer of SixChel, Dina Chavez. Chel comes from the Mayan Goddess, Ixchel who was in love with the Sun God and wove a beautiful cloth that caught his attention. It is said that they had a long and volatile relationship.
The lost of your sister due to cancer led you to rebrand, refocus and start SixChel. How difficult was the process after this tragic event?
Initially, it was difficult to make the decision to continue my fashion career because responsibilities shifted to care for the family first. However, my sister was my biggest supporter of my career and I knew she would not want me to stop. It was also a difficult time professionally, because I was no longer living in Austin where my fashion network was and I lost a few contacts and connections. So, essentially, I felt like I had to start all over again. It was frustrating and a difficult time, but I knew what I needed to do and that was to go ahead, start from the beginning and find the meaning and reasons behind SixChel as a positive fashion brand that the customer would feel proud to own and wear.
What has life taught you thus far with all the obstacles that has occurred?
I have learned that there is always a silver lining in any situation; there will always be a reason to smile and laugh although your world is falling apart. I learned to not take life so seriously and to put your energy and efforts into people you love and things you enjoy doing. I learned that strength finds you at inopportune moments and that no matter what we think, we are capable of overcoming any obstacle.
You stated that your brand is for the modern women of this world. Can you define, in your opinion, what is the modern woman?
The modern woman is today’s woman, versatile, educated and progressive. We are aware of the fallacies society has deemed to women and we know that we are more than that and are committed to prove this notion wrong. The modern woman also knows that we are in the midst of climate and environmental changes due to human habits and certain polluting industries, such as the fashion industry, and we want to do something about this. What is most amazing about the modern woman, is that we are supportive of each other and know that it is no longer okay to knock over another woman to get where we need to be; we know it is more beneficial and ethical to back one another.
Photo Credit: www.sixchelbydinachavez.com
Photo Credit: www.sixchelbydinachavez.com
Will SixChel carry designs for the curvy fashionistas who have very limited choices when it comes to ethical plus-size fashion?
SixChel is available in sizes 2-14 and we do have the idea to expand into plus sizes in the future. This will be a challenge because, plus sizes have different elements to the construction of the garment. It is a part of the industry that I have not learned, but do have the plans to educate myself about.
As an ethical fashion designer, what do you think needs to be done to close the gap between what society deems "normal" clothing sizes and what the average women are actually, sizes 12 and up?
The fashion industry as a whole, needs to recognize that for the most part, women are not a size 2 and that a size 12 is not a plus size. It is frustrating not only as a designer, but as a consumer to see “plus” size models and/or actresses and they are a size 6 or 10…that is not plus size, that is normal. However, at the same time, as a woman that is not a size 2, it is important to give the message that being healthy is what is most important and not the size you wear. I think industry standards need to be raised. For example, as a designer, it is custom to make samples in size 4. Why? Because models are more than likely a size 4 or smaller. We need the big fashion houses to start embracing various sizes in their collections first, then there will be a following, and then changes may be able to occur.
SixChel encourages women empowerment. Why it's essential for women to empower other women?
Women are still a minority group in our country and are still not seen as an equal to our counterpart. The more that women unite and support each other, the more power we have. Society and male lead industries, businesses, etc. do not want us to recognize the power we have, especially as an entity. If we remain divided with the “You can’t sit with us attitude”, they continue to win and women see less opportunities to progress. In other words, we are stronger as a unit and in order to truly get to where we want to be as equals, we must get there together to succeed.
SixChel will be launching its very first ethical and sustainable Capsule Collection in the coming days. When and where can we pre-order your fashion line?
SixChel is part of the slow-fashion movement which means that in order to cut cost and waste, customers can order the pieces they would like to purchase, while making pre-selected design choices. We will launch The Capsule Collection with a Kickstarter campaign.
This has been hard! It is so easy for me to work non-stop since I do enjoy doing what I do and have had to make a clear line as to when I work and when I don’t. During the week I make a work schedule and stick to it and make sure I either accomplish all my tasks for that day or I make sure I work the minimum of 8 hours a day. On the weekend, I make a clear choice to either work only in the morning or for a few hours. What I have also learned to do is to pay attention to my body and mind. When I am sewing or traveling for work, I know my limits and I know when and how to push myself. Also, it is important for me to recognize that when I am not working, I must stay away from work and that includes emails.
What is the most significant barrier to women’s leadership in the business world? If any?
A significant barrier is that women are not seen as strong and therefore are not capable of leading. However, the women who are strong and have leadership roles in business are seen as, and please, excuse my language, a bitch and are labeled as difficult to work with. I am sure there are a vast majority of women who have found the middle ground between these two extremes and are breaking boundaries for future female business leaders.
What have you learned as an entrepreneur? What would be your advice to other entrepreneurs?
I have learned to not let fear cloud your judgement and/or ideas to grow your business. My advice would be to know your strengths and weaknesses, surround yourself with positive supporters you can trust and read, read, read.
What kind of legacy do you aspire to leave in the fashion industry?
I aspire to be part of the fashion industry that encouraged sustainability, ethical practices and gave women the power to believe in their greatness, their worth and their beauty.
What's next for you and Sixchel? Where can we purchase your products?
After our launch on Kickstarter, SixChel will continue to sell products via our website, www.sixchelbydinachavez.com as well as attend markets that are focused on introducing modern, sustainable brands to boutiques across the country. Please, make sure you are signed up to receive the SixChel newsletter that will keep you up to date with our launch and future collections.
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