As someone who runs one very small business (aka: wit & whimsy), I have grown to have an insane amount of respect for people who start and build their own brands. And then go and crush it doing so!
With that spirit, the latest installment of Witty Conversation With… is featuring two boss babes who decided that the way we did laundry (and eventually the way we cleaned our homes, too) was flawed and decided to improve it by designing their own line of eco-friendly fabric care & home cleaning products.
So meet Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd: founders of The Laundress. I’ve been using their laundry detergent for the past two months and can vouch for the fact that it is so much better to your clothes than what you pick up in the drugstore or grocery store. Not to mention that I love their brand’s mission and aesthetic.
So I hope you enjoy today’s Q&A…it’s both informative and inspiring!
How was the idea behind The Laundress born?
We founded The Laundress New York Detergent and Fabric Care Collection in 2004 because we were frustrated with dingy white T-shirts, faded denim, and prematurely worn pieces. The products available in the marketplace left us unsatisfied and the only alternative, dry cleaning, left our clothes loaded with chemicals. Knowing our wardrobes were washable, we decided to research and develop our own solutions – literally! Each of our products are unique in that they are formulated based on a fabric-first approach.
What’s one of the biggest mistakes people make when doing laundry at home?
The biggest laundry mistakes that people make are that:
- They do not fully understand what is actually washable. Items like silk and wool are best cared for at home by hand washing.
- They do not pre-treat stains which is really critical to getting them out.
- They do not sort the correct way by colors, items and then how the item should be washed (checking the fabric content).
What are the fan favorite laundry products?
People generally start with the Delicate Wash and Wool and Cashmere Shampoo but then soon switch to our Signature Detergent and stain products. We also see a huge love fest for our Scented Vinegar.
I love your collaboration with Le Labo. How was that born?
We always wanted to work with either a fine fragrance or perfume company in some sort of collaboration. We became big fans ourselves of Le Labo and sent along an email introducing ourselves to the founders and the rest is history. Our brands were both growing and gaining an international following so it made strategic sense. In the seven years since we launched, we have seen that the Rose 31 and Santal 33 products rise to cult status as new customers have discovered it and come back wanting more. It has been a very successful collaboration.
What do you tell people who are fearful of washing their own cashmere or “dry clean only” items?
They should be more fearful of dry cleaning! It is toxic and really bad for clothing. Cashmere, wool and silks are 100 percent washable so with the right techniques they can feel confident washing on their own.
(Find out how to wash delicates with this video and wash cashmere and wool with this video.)
You also introduced a line of home cleaning products – what inspired that?
We had customers asking us what to use for cleaning in their homes and we just couldn’t come up with a brand we trusted enough to pass along so we set out to make our own. We tasked ourselves with creating a more edited collection that did not require 75 products. We made everything multi-purpose to streamline that process and not make it overly complicated. We took a similar approach with the cleaning line as we did with laundry wanting one scent for the entire home cleaning experience. We developed and incorporated a clean fresh scent – No 247 – which is our building number in New York.
3 apps you can’t live without?
LB- Amazon Prime, Weather, Mindbody.
GW- I don’t really use apps!
3 pieces in your wardrobe you can’t live without?
LB- A cashmere scarf from White + Warren, Rag & Bone white t-shirts and Lanvin camel shoes.
GW- My custom riding boots from Argentina, jeans (generally AG or J Brand) and black Ralph Lauren cashmere sweaters.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned from starting + running your own business?
LB- Finding balance in every aspect of my life over the last decade as the business constantly changes.
GW- The problems never go away – they just get bigger. People do not realize this part of owning a business.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to break out of their current job and pursue their passion?
LB/GW- Do it but, do your homework first!
What’s your best productivity tip?
LB- Be able to divide and conquer to get the job done.
GW- Prioritize and be realistic.
It’s Saturday night in New York and you can go anywhere for dinner – where do you go?
LB- That is a tough one, depending on the time of the year but right now I would say Pasquale Jones because I love their other restaurant Charlie Bird and I love pizza.
GW- I am never really in NYC on Saturday night – but it is the night we cook a lovely meal at home.
Thanks so much to Gwen & Lindsey for being a part of this interview! You can get even more tips + tricks on their blog as well and find your nearest store here.
Some Favorite The Laundress Products:
p.s….Witty Conversation With…a wellness expert, a fashion illustrator and a great style blogger.
[Photos courtesy of The Laundress]
I LOVE the Laundress!! I want everything. (And a pretty, huge laundry room!)
Yessssss! My laundry experience would in fact be near perfection if I had a laundry room that was not in a basement of my apartment building – ha! Oh city living… 🙂
What an interesting interview! I’m in love with their products now!!!
Just wait till you try the products, Andi! You won’t want to use anything else afterwards!
I love The Laundress! Great interview – I really admire what they’re doing. Laundry will never be fun, but their products definitely help to make it less painful. And seriously love the fact that they focus on a lot on education – i.e., getting people to understand that hand washing is possible for items that say “dry clean” on the tag. I actually went there a few weeks ago to take some pictures of the store for an NYC Guide post (the store is SO charming!), and I learned a lot from the PR person, who was super nice and informative. They’ve done an amazing job all around with the whole concept and the branding. Loved learning more about the founders – great post Meghan!
“laundry will never be fun” – truer words have never been spoken! But love that The Laundress is making it a better process and totally agree with you on the concept & branding – it’s beautiful! Love that you know the store here in Soho, too!
ooh such a good post! I’ve heard a lot about this company! Gotta check it out!
M Loves M
Thanks, Mara! They even have a baby detergent too – something to consider for your little one on the way 🙂 Congrats to you!!
I’ve always been afraid to hand wash my silk tops but now I think I’ll give it a try. I’m looking forward to trying their products. Great interview & series!
You and I are in the same boat, Lauren! Doing this profile + watching The Laundress videos has me 100% excited to now wash my delicates (especially silk tops!) and my cashmere. Let me know how it goes!