This was orignially posted on the Laurier Alumni website, but I coudn't help sharing it. The title perfectly captures my and Le Prix's mission.
Robyn Hobbs (HBA ’13, MES ’16) has a passion for sustainability, fashion and community. This passion inspired her to create Le Prix Fashion & Consulting, a women’s fashion company that sources second hand and vintage clothing from all over the world. Robyn brings this clothing to her home shop in Waterloo, where she creates a supportive shopping experience, by appointment, for women to discover their unique style while buying environmentally-friendly and socially just products.
“It’s not what I originally set out to do,” she says. Always passionate about corporate social responsibility, Robyn planned to follow up on her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and Business Administration by joining a large organization and working within it to influence their environmental policies and practices. But a side-project based on her love of vintage clothes, community and sustainability would eventually blossom into Le Prix, and become her full-time career.
After graduating, Robyn returned to Laurier to do her Masters in Environmental Studies (MES) and wrote her thesis on understanding the influencers of second-hand shopping. It was this research that formed the basis of the Le Prix business model. With the encouragement of her Laurier friends, and some savings to invest in a quality used clothing inventory, she started selling clothing on Facebook and bootstrapped her way from there to the successful social enterprise she runs today.
“I get to be creative every day,” says Robyn. As a small business owner creating a niche in the Kitchener-Waterloo fashion community, she plays many different roles. She spent a month in Europe last summer, travelling and shopping for vintage pieces that have never been seen in Canada. On top of coordinating personal shopping experiences in her home shop, she works as a freelance stylist, doing speaking engagements, hosting clothing swaps, renting wardrobes for photoshoots and doing personal consulting in client styling (including closet consultations, travel packing and personal shopping). She also sponsors a fashion show at Laurier every year. “There were really no fashion jobs in Waterloo,” she acknowledges. “So I made one for myself!” Robyn also engages in mentoring and she hires co-op students, another way that she helps build up her community. “It feels good to give back,” says Robyn. “There is only so much that you need to bring you happiness and comfort – after that, you can share what you have. I want to see change in the world, and the only way that is going to happen is if we can work together.”
For Robyn, sustainable fashion is a great way to introduce people to environmentalism. “They can make a sustainable purchase, in an easy and fun way,” she explains. It’s also important to her that the women who shop for her clothing feel safe, supported and good about themselves. “I want everyday women to feel confident and like a boss in their everyday life, within any budget!” she says. She also values supporting women workers across the planet by encouraging folks to shop ethically sourced and vintage clothing.
Robyn’s passion for social enterprise stretches back to her Laurier days, when she was active in leadership in the Delta Gamma sorority, and volunteered at charity events on and off campus. “Laurier has amazing volunteer opportunities that teach so many business skills,” she says. She credits her participation in Laurier Launchpad as the biggest source of her inspiration to give back. “It was great to have community mentors volunteering their time to help me; that’s why I now do the same for others.” The Launchpad is an incubator run by the Schlegel Centre to provide support, mentorship and resources to start-ups.
“Life will throw you in different directions,” Robyn says, “But if your door is open, opportunities will come through. Find your community, talk about your passion and keep doing what you love. Things happen organically if you persist in your vision.”
With Le Prix’s sixth anniversary coming up this spring, Robyn’s vision includes new growth for her business. She’s working on partnerships with The Eco Market, a natural beauty company, a few fitness instructors and other sustainability partners. Her longer term vision is to have a storefront, and she’d like to be able to hire a manager for the store so that she has more freedom to travel to find unique items.
She wants to continue to build Le Prix’s vision to instill in her clients and her community “a love for beautiful things, some playfulness and a deep desire to make the world a better place.” Robyn reaches out to women in Kitchener-Waterloo, and across the world, with the inspiring call to “help foster sustainability and self-love.”