We here at LWB had the privilege to speak with Deborah Paul - a true trailblazer - who is changing the face of ethical fashion with a brand that reflects all that is pure, noble and beautiful in the world.
1. What inspired you to set-up i61clothing?
Having worked as a fashion photographer for over 15 years, I had become disheartened by the industry. It appeared to promote a lifestyle that I found challenging.
I had a desire the create a brand that would counter-act the negative side of this industry, by creating something beautiful, something pure, something noble.A brand that gave back, that lifted people up, that quite simply gave them garments of praise, instead of spirits of despair (Isaiah 61)
2. What have been some of the biggest challenges with setting up your own initiative from conception?
I believe that the past 12 years has been a journey that God wanted me to take, to learn as much about myself as a human, and about Him as my Father, than just simply starting a business. My biggest challenge to date has been self-belief. I have stopped and started and stopped and started this brand so many times over the past years.
But God is patient and compassionate and full of 2nd chances! He never gave up on me, or let me give up on me. He has answered all of my prayers at every step.
Throughout this whole period - I have learnt so much about myself. My greatest piece of advice is to tell others to do what you are good at (called to). Use the gifts and talents He has given you. You were not made to do everything. If you are lacking in some areas, for me it was the business side, pray, and ask Him and He will provide.
3. What advise would you give to women who are looking to take the plunge and start a new venture?
In retrospect, I would have sowed a lot more in prayer! I jumped in and while it was, and is the right thing for me to have done, at the time, it would have laid a better foundation. My advice to those starting out is this, if you feel passionate about something and have the vision to ‘see’ it - then go for it. But, God must be in it. He is my partner in this business - the CEO! As often as I can, as often as I remember, I pray and ask for His wisdom and guidance daily. I count on Him for most of my decisions.
4. What for you are the key things that maintain your passion for i61clothing?
I am a dreamer. a blue sky thinker! I believe my dreams keep me passionate (and drive those who are helping me a little bit crazy!). I also love and feel very passionate about helping others through fashion, a simple t-shirt can have a massive impact. We started the i61 Dignity Project to enable us to give a percentage of our profits to educational causes. We also use it to highlight issues in the world, we want to make a change in.
5. How has your faith impacted the journey you have taken with i61clothing?
It has grown and stretched my faith over the years. This brand was founded because he asked me to start it (that is an important point!). So, it has pretty much been the base for all we do.
On the hand shoulder of every product, we have a small cross. One day, someone told me that we would get more sales if we ‘lost the cross’ and before I had had the chance to reply, God said to me “the cross is non-negotiable”
My faith is the structure and is what roots everything for the business. Without my faith, it wouldn’t exist.
6. You have recently launched your 'Love Has No Borders' collection - what inspired this particular line?
As part of our vision to create a brand of ethical, fair-trade products, I felt passionate about using the brand to help others. We donate 10% of our profit to the i61 Dignity Project, which helps educational programmes around the UK We also use the brand to promote and highlight issue that society faces. The Love Has No Borders t-shirt came out of my desire to help the homeless here in the UK, and the homeless (the refugees) abroad. I believe that regardless of who people are, or where they are, regardless of what they believe in, we have an opportunity to share our faith through clothing and more importantly love.
Our garments are about inspiring people not only to wear clothing with positive statements, but inspiring good and positive attitudes as well. The heart of this t-shirt is about opposing evil with good when it comes to giving to the Syrian refugees, helping the homeless at home is all about starting to make a change within, as well as helping crisis situations all over the world.