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?
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.
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?
GW- I don’t really use apps!
3 pieces in your wardrobe you can’t live without?
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?
GW- I am never really in NYC on Saturday night – but it is the night we cook a lovely meal at home.
Some Favorite The Laundress Products:
[Photos courtesy of The Laundress]