The Muse featuring Lizzie Rosin, Founder & CEO of Rosin Studios
Lizzie Rosin founded Rosin Studios with the goal of creating stylish, sustainable clothing for everyone. She wanted to be a fashion designer since she was 12 years old, but it took until the COVID-19 Pandemic for her to build and launch her brand.
Lizzie believes that anyone can create a successful fashion brand, regardless of experience or education, by focusing on branding and values first. She recommends starting small with achievable goals, learning as you go, and being mindful of your impact on the environment.
Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
SInce about twelve I always just felt really empowered by a great outfit and so even if it wasn't this style, I mean it's just something about an amazing outfit really gave me confidence and so I think that feeling was something I loved about fashion. And so ever since I was twelve I was like, I want to be a designer, I want to make clothes that make people feel amazing and so that's really where it comes from.
Did you go to school for this? How was that training for you?
Since being close to Manhattan, when I was in high school, I took a class at Fit. So that walked me through a little bit about fashion from design to then Merchandising, like an overview. That was very interesting to see it from a more career standpoint than just an admiration standpoint. And then I decided to go to Syracuse University. I really wanted a well rounded education, but then I took a semester and went to London College of Fashion. And so all these little components really built me as a person of fashion. I learned how to sew, how to sketch, how to source materials, and really understood all the components of making clothes.
I love pattern making, thinking about seam allowances. I love the fabric part. That's super important to me, feeling that. Does the fabric feel hot when you touch it? Does it feel cool when you touch it? Do you want to wear it for the day? Does it wash well? So I love all those components of really making clothes and seeing what they do when you wear them.
For just a girl who might be dreaming about doing this one day, do you think she has to go to school for it? Do you think there's other skills that she could learn or transfer, like learn outside of that? What do you think about that?
I think in general, the first takeaway if you want to have I guess any business would really be to have the branding. Like, what is it that you want to say? So regardless of your skill set, whether you can make clothes or not, do you have that sort of core aesthetic that you want to put the flag in the ground and say, this is what I want to make. And then from there, whether you come from a business background, whether you come from a design background, you're going to need a higher out. You can't do everything.
Whereas for me, that's where I want to be part of the process. And if someone else can advise or take on another component, that would be say more of a business task side. So I think if you never want to sew, you’re afraid of needles, that's okay. But really understanding what your aesthetic is and what you want to offer, maybe you love athleisure, maybe you love denim. There are so many components.
How was Rosin Studios founded? What was the thought process going into building your own brand?
I'll even take it back a little bit to the all black, because if anyone's looking at the line, everything's black. And it really came from this moment in college, we spoke about color theory, just how color looks on skin tone regarding your undertones, whether you're warm or cool, a little bit about your hair and eye color. And then I really got to thinking, any time I wore black, I felt like my skin really glowed. And so then I got into this thing where, any time I put on clothes, if it wasn't black, I was like, I don't really want to wear it. And so from there, I've just wore it all black for probably, like, ten plus years now.
And then going with that, when I really started building a wardrobe for my own person, it was really about phenomenal basics and so that logic was how I then built the brand. It was during COVID I don't really wear sweatpants. It's not my personal style, but of course I want to be comfortable as most. And I was wearing bias slip dresses, and I just thought as I build my own personal wardrobe, let's make Rosin Studios that personal wardrobe capsule for people. So you'll see there's like an elevated T shirt. There is a biased flip skirt. There's pieces that have a little bit more detail, but it's just a shell. You put a blazer over it or something.
That's how as collections go on, they'll compound with one another. Or you can layer them together. So that's how it came to be. Really thinking about a wardrobe for a brand, but also applying that to other people's wardrobes. You can pair it with your Levis, you compare it with an amazing sweater. So that was one of the thoughts about layers and dressing.
You do have some pretty strong brand values. Would you mind telling me a little bit about those?
So it's super important for us to be zero waste. Being in design for many years, just seeing how much isn't used. I come from a background where everything was made in New York City. So I was seeing production runs, I was seeing the cutting table and seeing the waste really being thrown out, seeing samples being made left and right, and then they slightly don't fit. Now we have this wholesome garment that's for no reason. So really trying to figure out what to do because there's so many layers of sustainability and there's no one answer, there's no wrong answer, there's no right answer. I think if you're doing something, that's admirable and important. So my real way of approaching that was the zero waste thing.
So for our brand, when we're developing and producing anything that doesn't get used to make a final garment, we hold on to that and then we repurpose it into these artwork pieces so they feel very avant garde, very unique. But it really is this answer to what can we do with these pieces? Is it fabric? Is it a shirt? We made it and it didn't work out. And that happens in fashion. That's actually what everyone does. So coming up with sort of solutions to that.
You've probably heard that fashion is one of the biggest polluters. Do you have any suggestions as to how to get started with some sustainable choices with fashion from a consumer standpoint?
I think it's super important as a consumer to really think about where you're buying from, who you're buying from, and even just how often you're buying. So I think being more intentional with what you purchase, you can even do fun things like if you want diversity in your wardrobe, have a couple of friends, maybe you have similar body types and you can swap clothes. But buying from places that value those same ideas.
Just being really smart instead of buying 100 things to have so many options, buy ten better quality things and also then take care of your clothes better too to give it that longer lifecycle. So I think really delving into all the layers because like we were saying before, sustainability is such a large concept and everyone can be a player and they shouldn't think, oh, I'm not doing enough. Like whatever you can do is better than not doing anything.
What have been some of the best parts about owning your own brand?
I think for me, it's so fun to be able to design the ideas I have. I have my most fun when I'm pattern making. And I just put my headphones in and play, like really fun electronic pop music. And I just have a dance party while I'm pattern making. So I would say that's one of my favourite things because I don't think most people do that. I need a job setting. So that's just really fun to express myself that way.
And then I guess my other high would be anytime someone tries on the clothes, like, it's just so exciting. Even if it's just doing a photo shoot and a new model, try something on. I just am like, how is that going to fit this person's body type? Because everyone is shaped so differently and it's just really exciting to see how that looks on them, seeing them get excited, hearing feedback from customers. That's the point. That's why I'm making the clothes. I think that's a high.
What about some difficult times? What have been some challenges for you? Ones that you've overcome and how? Or ones that you're just experiencing right now.
I think as an emerging brand and figuring it out as you go, I think the biggest thing right now for me is how do I deal with risk. And you have to take risk to see reward, but knowing when the risk is the right one or knowing if I'm trying something and it's not working out, when do I stop and maybe try something different and really figuring out is this worth it? Or is it really just like an idea someone mentioned or someone thinks this is a great idea, but maybe it's not applicable to my business and really figuring out because there are so many fashion brands, there are so many businesses, and there's tons of ideas of what to do next, but really deciding, is that right for this business? Is that right for where I want to go? If I make that choice, does that position me somewhere that I don't want to be and really trying to understand? That comfortability with risk I think is something that I wouldn't say is struggling, but I'm trying to understand and that I would say is like an Achilles heel.
How is your work life balance? Are there any certain things that you do?
That's something else that you struggle with. It's really hard. A lot of times I work fulltime and it's exhausting and I come home. And some days I'm like, I have to pattern or I have to edit photos or I have to look at this marketing pitch or something. And I just work from like seven to ten.
And then there are days where it's like, all my friends are getting brunch or going to the movies, and I'm like, I'm going to skip this one. So it's hard. It can feel very lonely sometimes. I think it's something a lot of founders can really commiserate on, even if they're doing an entirely different industry. But you do have to make sacrifices. But hopefully it's all worth it and you're doing something you love. So it's not as much of a sacrifice. But yeah, you don't get to have as much fun time as maybe some other people, but it all should be worth it.
So why women owned? Why do you think now is the time to be supporting women owned businesses?
I was with my coworkers, and we're a small team of four, including myself, but we were really talking about women in fashion and who were icons, like American women, fashion designers, and the list was so tiny of who we could really name. So I just think, male, female, it doesn't really matter, but just representation and just giving an equal playing field, like, why shouldn't there be as many female entrepreneurs as there are men? Like, why not? That's kind of archaic. So I think just evening out the playing fields is sort of how I feel.
Also, women making clothes for women, that kind of makes sense. I would want the person making my eggs to eat eggs so they know that it actually tastes good. So I guess that's all kind of like my thoughts on the women doing business things.
How can we stay in touch?
You can follow me on LinkedIn & Instagram
Have thoughts on this week’s topic or questions for me or Lizzie? Post your thoughts in the comments section.