In the Fall of 2014, ten years after first becoming close friends in university, we reunited once again on an exotic adventure to Nepal. Little did we know that this trip would change the direction of our lives.
As we traveled around the country, experiencing the local culture and making new friends, we were so incredibly touched by the kindness of the people we were meeting along the way. Our warm interactions stood as a reminder that those who have the least are often the most generous.
During a trek through the breathtaking Himalayas, we finally had time to reflect upon our journey. We had both fallen in love with this inspiring country. How could we give back to these people who have so little? Hours climbing between villages were quickly filled talking about our dreams and sharing ideas. We discovered that by marrying our professional backgrounds in fashion and sustainability, we could leverage responsible business to preserve nature and empower people living in underprivileged communities. At the same time we could also fill the need for desirable, ethical, affordable fashion. Our next journey was now set before us. In the misty mountains of Nepal, Les Sublimes - a lifestyle brand for worldly women with big hearts - was born.
‘‘We believe in products that connect, empower, and contribute.
This is the soul of what we do.”
Kachen Hong // Co-Founder + Sustainability Guru
With a Masters degree in Sustainability from Sciences Po Paris, I began a career as a sustainable consultant, as I had always wished. In my role I developed sustainable strategies and road maps for public organizations and private firms on numerous innovative social and environmental subjects. During those seven years, I witnessed how innovative businesses were integrating sustainability into their strategies, leading the way within their respective industries. The idea of developing a sustainable brand was slowly but surely taking hold of me.
During this time, sustainable values were also merging into my personal life. As a millennial and well-informed consumer, I was starting a journey towards leading a more conscious lifestyle. I prefer to eat local and organic foods, use natural cleaning products, and furnish my apartment with flea market finds. But my wardrobe was another story. Sustainable fashion didn’t even seem to be on anyone’s radar yet, and the options available mirrored this. My intuition was telling me that there was a huge opportunity, not to mention a genuine need, for clothing that would inspire shoppers to adopt a more conscious wardrobe. But I also knew that I could not jump into this complex world of fashion without a deep understanding of the apparel and textile industry. A trek in Nepal with Alexis would make that happen.
Alexis Assoignon // Co-Founder + fashion expert
After graduating from Parsons New York, I set off with degrees in Finance and Marketing to pursue my dream of working in fashion. This path led me to a variety of positions on the corporate side of luxury brands, including Michael Kors, Elie Tahari and Dior. Growing up, fashion had always been my first love. So being able to build a career in this industry and become an insider was incredibly exciting. At the same time, the social and environmental implications linked with the global apparel industry were being brought increasingly into the spotlight, and I started to question this world that I loved so deeply.
A lifelong traveler, it didn’t take much time for me to see first-hand that fashion has two very different faces - and that the one shown to the developing world has very little to do with beauty, empowerment or fulfillment. I kept asking myself: How do I fit into all of this? And I began my own journey of discovery into the values and motivations driving the fashion industry. Eager for a solution that could make a positive impact, I realized that a sustainably-run company could offer all of the benefits of business that the fashion industry often withholds. I started to dream about one day launching an ethical brand of my own, but I knew that I would need a partner with a strong background in sustainability. Fast forward a few years, when I would visit Nepal with Kachen, and this would soon become a reality.