In this Earth-First Conversations series, I sit down with brand founders who are blazing trails, empowering lasting change, and building impactful brands with an earth-first vision. Today I am joined by Erin Kleinberg, an inspiring multi-hyphenate and the Founder and CEO of SIDIA. She and I talk timelessness, social mission, and owning fewer, better things.
Tell me about your vision for SIDIA. When you set out to create the brand, what were you observing in the fashion industry that made you want to do things differently/better? What gaps did you identify that you wanted to fill?
I see SIDIA as a beauty-lifestyle brand that brings that sense of comfort, ease and hygge into the luxury space, with objects designed to enrich your daily rituals. SIDIA was founded in honour of my late grandmother and the legacy she left behind – one of comfort and family, style and grace.
Be it with a buttery-soft caftan or candles that epitomize the feeling of being braless, SIDIA is a brand that celebrates a life lived with ease and beauty. In the past two years, life has felt so far from ease – like polar opposite far from. But I learned from the IRL Sidia that life is what you make of it. We want to be that reminder that you can always find home in yourself, and for me, that feeling starts in the bathroom, aka your own personal oasis.
“I think this idea of timelessness and circularity is always always at the forefront of our vision and messaging.”
– Erin Kleinberg, Founder & CEO, SIDIA
Today’s fast fashion industry shows that clothing is massively under-utilized and consumers are throwing away clothes that they could continue to wear. Some garments are estimated to be discarded after just 7-10 wears. To help reduce the immense footprint of the fashion industry, business models need to be developed that keep clothes in use, ensuring they are durable and not disposable. SIDIA is rooted in the concept of owning fewer, better things and crafting with intention to create timeless pieces that are made to last. How are you as a brand working to shift the perception of clothing from a disposable item to a durable product?
I think this idea of timelessness and circularity is always at the forefront of our vision and messaging; clothing aside, we celebrate stories, which are essentially circulatory in nature — a theme reflected in the objects we design. If it’s emphasizing the fabrics we’re using, the dying processes, or the versatility of each product.
Even when we decide to collaborate with brands, it’s a question of how we can re-envision or bring attention to the beauty in objects we already have? With EW.Pharmacy, the idea of dried florals that last forever, displayed in the Braless or Wired vessel. Or our most recent collab with Abigail Bell Vintage — it’s a total celebration of these whimsical vintage pieces, where you don’t always need to create something new.
We are by no means perfect, and we don’t claim to be. But by keeping these conversations going, practicing sustainability wherever we can along the production and creation process, that is what makes the difference in the long run. Hopefully meeting people where they are, where they want to have an impact but don’t necessarily know where to start. Introducing a more meaningful way to live and shop — and making it moody, interesting, a little sexy, while still remaining conscious of our impact.
“I am so inspired by the modern consumer applying pressure in all the right places of the clothing and commerce space. ”
What are you observing about the new breed of conscious consumer and how they engage with brands? Why do you think it’s important to be asking ourselves questions like Who made this? Where is it made? Do their values align with my own? What happens to this product after I’m done with it? when making a purchase?
I am so inspired by the modern consumer applying pressure in all the right places of the clothing and commerce space. Shopping is so much more now than the eye-catching piece in the store window (or e-commerce page); business owners now have to cover both bases, creating beautiful designs and considering the process behind the final result. It’s become table stakes, and I appreciate brands being held accountable.
Each dollar you spend is like an investment in that company or brand, and their corresponding mission and vision. The fact is, what the majority of people support with their dollar is what will continue to grow. So, transparency is everything, and it’s more important than ever to ask these questions. Whether a brand is 100% environmentally friendly or not – do they at least have a vision in mind, and an answer to give? To show that sustainability is a journey they are embarking on and will continue to grow along the way?
The legacy of your family matriarch by which your brand is inspired is a multi-generational story that is woven into every aspect of the SIDIA brand. Do you feel that this human element of your brand allows consumers to connect with you differently/more authentically?
Yes, 100%. The basis of our brand is really built on community, surrounding you with stories rooted in this idea of multi-generational wisdom and legacy. We all have a ‘Sidia’ in our lives, someone that inspired, encouraged or shaped the way we live. We can all relate to that feeling of comfort, nostalgia, hygge.
I’m a storyteller at heart, a passion that really flourished from my days at The Coveteur. Understanding where these people come from, how they live, how they create ambience and comfort is my personal joie de vivre. I think people can really relate to this aspect of the brand, and feel encouraged to share their story, ask us questions, because they know they’ll be seen and heard.
That’s really where the development of each product starts, from the Towel Wrap to our beloved Cloud Nine — in my DMs, with a customer asking for the next thing they’re needing, or the elements missing in their own bathroom oasis.
Tell me more about the eco-friendly/sustainable fabrics and textiles you use to create your designs, and how you strive to repurpose and reduce waste. How do the fabrics you use influence wearability, durability, etc.?
It was so important to me to have a selection of materials with both sustainability and that comfort factor in mind. And choosing to partner with suppliers where excess materials and fabric wastes are repurposed, reused, recycled, or donated to local charities and businesses.
The majority of the fabrics we use for our caftans and sets are made from OEKO-TEX certified materials, using low-impact fibre reactive dyes, free from heavy metals, chemical mordants, and AZO dyes. Our latest SIDIA’74 sets and Wild Grace caftan for example are made from either 100% Tencel, or a Tencel blend, which is derived from sustainable wood sources. It’s the most durable of all cellulose fibres so it will last, wash after wash, keeping that quality intact. We also use Bamboo as such a versatile material for our ribbed Sets, signature Towel Wrap and the most buttery-soft caftans; it’s sustainably made and very breathable, and always looks good-as-new because of its crazy durability.
“Our social mission is really rooted in intergenerational trauma and empowering women.”
We know that true sustainability is about more than climate change, it’s about people. Tell me more about SIDIA’s social mission and commitments to the development and wellbeing of people and communities.
Our social mission is really rooted in intergenerational trauma and empowering women. My grandmother herself was a Holocaust survivor and she suffered tremendously from that experience, being so young and not really understanding what was going on. Coming out of that time, coming back into real life on a rural farm…I mean it was traumatizing, the effects of which live on and get passed down through generations. To see her continue on and grow into this flourishing life, with her husband and beautiful children and great grandkids was uber-inspiring to me — but that trauma isn’t always something that goes away on its own or with time, and that is really our focus.
For us this looks like providing resources, creative therapies & donations, acting almost as a forum for really attacking and getting to the root of this trauma that gets passed down. For our candle launch, we donated 10% of the profits to the Women Like Us Foundation; right now, we’re focusing our donations to the Women of Ukraine through the Care Foundation. We’ve even done grant programs where we’re able to work with a healer named Hosanna Marshall, who practices different types of creative healing therapies.
People share these stories or similar all over the world, whether it’s marginalized communities or women like my grandmother Sidia, it is an issue that often gets overlooked, and yet affects us all. As an avid storyteller myself, I feel really passionate about finding the space and creating the opportunity to understand our stories, work through the trauma, and create new narratives through the next generations, like my daughter Parker.
What are some of your future plans for SIDIA from a sustainability perspective?
This is definitely where our collaborations and partnerships will play a huge role. Partnering with vintage curators like Abigail Campbell, to keep that conversation of sustainability and reclaimed objects going. And we’ve recently become members at 1% for the Planet, where 1% of our annual sales are donated directly to approved environmental nonprofits.
On the sales side, we’re always striving to improve our sustainability measures, looking at how each SIDIA gets delivered from construction to consumer hands. This year we made the switch to FSC certified cardboard for the majority of our packaging, and we’re working towards becoming a certified B Corporation in the near future. From strategies to offset our carbon emissions, to transparency in our manufacturing process, there’s always that next step we can push ourselves; it’s a constant process of educating ourselves and our community.
In what ways do you, yourself, adopt a sustainability mindset and live more mindfully in your day to day routine at home, with your family, etc.?
Wearing SIDIA! Shopping small, all the things. Using products that I feel good about in every sense of the word. Keeping the conversation relevant at our house and trying my best to raise kids who ask the right questions – that is where the biggest shifts can take place.
All photos courtesy of SIDIA