When it comes to fashion retail, fast-growing brands that are making significant strides are those that seamlessly blend comfort and sustainability into their ethos – one such brand that has carved a niche for itself in this space is UpWest.
Since its inception in 2019, UpWest has made significant strides in the lifestyle brand sector, offering an array of products spanning apparel, sleepwear, wellness items, and home goods. The brand’s unique selling proposition lies in its commitment to comfort and mindfulness, which are deeply ingrained in every aspect of its business strategy.
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In this exclusive interview, we sit down with Jamie Schisler, the Chief Comfort Officer (CEO) of UpWest, to discuss the brand’s unique approach to comfort, impressive growth trajectory, and commitment to social responsibility and sustainability. Schisler provides an insightful look into the strategies that have shaped UpWest’s success and the future plans that promise to solidify its position as a purpose-driven brand further.
1. Jamie, as the Chief Comfort Officer (aka the CEO) at UpWest, how do you define ‘comfort’ and how does this definition influence the brand’s growth strategy?
When we launched the business we established our brand purpose as to provide comfort for people and the planet. We define that as making the world more comfortable through our clothes, our content, and our causes. That fuels everything that we do and how we plan growth, from what fabrics we select to what charity partners we work with.
2. Can you share some insights into how UpWest has grown since its inception in 2019? What were some of the key strategies that contributed to this growth?
JS: We have been fortunate to have tripled our annual sales since 2020. Strategically we have achieved that by standing for quality, versatility, and value, all with a passion for advocating for our consumers and designing products that truly serve as a solution to their busy lives. Our most recent product extension that has been well received by our customers is Denim. We have jeans that fit and feel great, and are excited about where that business will go.
3. UpWest is known for its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. How have these values shaped your business model and partnerships?
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We said from the get-go that our commitment will always be progress, not perfection, when it comes to sustainability and social responsibility. There is so much for us to learn that we always want to be in a posture of learning and growing when it comes to these important initiatives. As for social responsibility, for the past 16 months, we have committed $1 from every order on our website to be donated to a partner charity whose mission aligns with ours. We have helped to plant trees, provide showers to the homeless, and make accessible free mental health screenings. We take a similar approach to sustainability. There is so much work and progress to be made as not only a brand but an industry. We try to do our part by using natural and recycled fabrics, and we recently launched our garment take-back program.
4. Can you tell us more about the “Give Back Box” initiative? How did this idea come about and what impact has it had on both the company and the communities you serve?
Give Back Box is a terrific brand partner. They launched with the concept of keeping used cardboard boxes in circulation, so when you receive a package at your home or business, users can visit our website and fill the box with unwanted items that will be sent directly to Give Back Box, and then the organization will donate the items to those most in need.
5. Recently, UpWest partnered with SCRAP NYC to repurpose unwanted textiles. Can you elaborate on this partnership and how it aligns with UpWest’s mission?
Clothes don’t belong in landfills. That is SCRAP NYC’s mission is to keep clothing out of our landfills and find new uses for them, most notably recycling old clothing into new fabrics so they can be reused. The partnership aligns with our purpose of making the one planet we all call home more comfortable. We are just scratching the surface of what we could do together so we are excited to see where our partnership can lead.
6. In your role as CEO, how do you balance the need for business growth with the commitment to social responsibility and sustainability?
It’s a great question. The reality is doing what is right isn’t always doing what is the best value to our consumers. We have to have a healthy dialogue over what we can do today that makes progress but also fits the budget that customers can and will pay for our products. I also think they are temptations to try to do everything and I learned a long time ago that while that can be noble, it is impossible, and we would rather we continually make progress than internally put pressure on ourselves to be perfect.
7. Finally, how do you see UpWest evolving in the future? Are there any new initiatives or partnerships on the horizon that you can share with us?
You will see us continuing to view product design through the lens of solutions to our consumers. This will be most tangibly noticed through our upcoming partnership with Aura Health.