Londre Bodywear Founders on Values, Intuition & Winning on Dragon’s Den
"Slowing down can be your biggest power move."
For Ainsley Rose and Hannah Todd, co-founders of the B.C.-based brand Londre Bodywear, there’s perhaps no better guide for running their business than following their gut. The duo devised the concept for their sustainability-focused, size-inclusive label while in Mexico several years ago and haven’t looked back since.
“We were on the beach having margaritas and talking about what kind of problems we wanted to solve,” recalls Rose. “At that time, a lot of swimsuits were either very ‘Vegas pool party’, or kind of matronly or super swim-meet looking.” She notes that while there’s nothing wrong with these aesthetics, the pair wanted to see pieces on the market that spoke to their contemporary and minimalistic sensibility – not to mention swimwear that spoke to sustainability practices and a body positive approach to design.
“It was a non-negotiable for us from the beginning,” says Todd about how they developed the use of mindful materials in their designs, including working with an OEKO tex 100 certified textile manufacturer and ensuring small-batch production runs of products using low-waste and recyclable fabrics (so far the brand says it’s recycled over 100,000 plastic bottles in its operations). “It was one of our key ideas for the company, along with not Photoshopping our images and being inclusive with our sizing and silhouettes. I suffered from an eating disorder when I was a teenager, and we’re just so grateful to be part of that other side of change. And now we receive messages from customers saying they’ve never felt so confident in a swimsuit before. It’s really heartwarming.”
It’s not only consumers that Londre’s approach resonates with, though; Rose and Todd are recent winners of the investment-based reality show, Dragon’s Den, finding a partnership with Michelle Romanow to the tune of a $208,000 investment. “We really look up to her,” says Todd. “She’s a pioneer in financial tech and an e-commerce expert. She’s a really innovative person, so we’re really excited to partner with her.”
Rose adds that “the experience was very validating. We’ve always run our business in a really unique way, basing our decisions on intuition and empathy and a community-focused approach. Seeing the way these prolific business people interacted with what we do, I feel like going into 2021 the world is so much more in tune with value-driven brands like ours that have really clear intentions and goals.”
Todd and Rose also note that running a brand through 2020 gave an augmented feeling to their long-held philosophy that “every day is a school day.” “Slowing down can be your biggest power move,” says Todd. “Prior to the pandemic, everyone was so focused on the hustle and next move, and the pandemic took that away from us. It forced us into a space of tuning into yourself, and to what matters. We definitely took that and ran with it, creating new verticals and connecting with our community.”
The brand’s newest addition of products included the introduction of loungewear pieces including a dress and athleisure separates that not only speak to the comfort-craving moment we’re in, but also the heightened awareness of what kind of garments we’re purchasing in many different ways.
“We’ve always used a framework of, what does the world need more of,” says Rose. “[And] we’re really cognizant of creating products that hit a 360 definition of sustainability. In 2020, of course we were all seeking comfort, so we started thinking about loungewear and were able to find a sustainable material and manufacturing process. But it was also about making sure [the pieces] were long-lasting and versatile, because if a piece is not all those things, you’re just contributing to over-consumption.”
Not only does the brand seek to contribute to the notion of buy less, buy better in terms of their product offerings; throughout the year, Londre has created several give-back initiatives, including one that sent products to nurses at the beginning of the pandemic. “Both our moms used to be nurses, so we have a particular emotional connection to it, and it was so touching to see the community wanting to be involved and support nurses this year,” says Todd.
More recently, as part of the brand’s Green Friday launch, the partners paired with several organizations involved with coral reef rejuvenation. “It resulted in about 400 corals being planted which ultimately should become a reef,” notes Rose, adding that there is an option to invest in the initiative still up on Londre’s website.
There will undoubtedly be more philanthropic pursuits for Todd and Rose in the new year, and when asked if they have any resolutions for 2021, their answer is very on-brand (so, thoroughly authentic). “We believe in setting goals year-round, but for the past few years, instead of making a resolution we’ve set a word for the year and that word is the guiding light or theme,” says Rose. “In 2020, the word was ‘heartful’. It was about leading with our hearts, and that was helpful during the year. For 2021, I’m probably going to choose something along the lines of ‘intuition’ or ‘trust’, because that’s been so critical to our success.”