A moment with co-founder Enrique Sánchez-Rivera and sneak peak into designer swimwear with an eco-friendly approach...
RYB: Who is behind La Isla and how did the project begin?
La Isla: LA ISLA is a collective effort of over 150 people. Management, employees, vendors, clients, brand ambassadors, friends, etc. We wouldn’t be who we are if it wasn’t for everyone’s involvement, energy and support. I founded the company 15 years ago with my sister Ana and it has been ever evolving since then, bringing us and everyone involved much happiness and joy. My sister started the company as a small project in her bedroom in Colombia which quickly turned into a business when I suggested we try and expand our distribution in the US. We saw it as an opportunity to not only build a business but also to try and employ women who needed jobs and also who were excited about their work.
RYB: What is the vision behind La Isla?
La Isla: We love making beautiful products which are unique and cannot be replicated easily. It is a passion of ours to only do business conscientiously. We are very proud that we are able to support organizations like Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, Woods Humane Society, and the LA Youth Network. Our biggest goal is to be able to continue to support these organizations and also to create products that do not leave a negative trail for our environment. This is a working progress but the mills we work with have continued to innovate and we are hoping that they release more environmentally friendly products in months and years to come that we can utilize.
RYB: How do you incorporate sustainability?
La Isla: We support mills that use standards like Oeko-Tex certifications and who are interested in water conservation and recycling. Currently the two mills we work with both have efforts of this kind.
RYB: How would you describe La Isla's style in 3 words?
La Isla: Joyful, tropical, bohemian
RYB: Who are behind the designs?
La Isla: We have different designers who design for us and all editing is done by myself.
RYB: How does your brand differ from others?
La Isla: We are very unique in that since we began our brand we have always been involved in non-profit work. We are proud to say that we are not riding the “green wave” of marketing. Our efforts come from the heart and from the education I received from my parents and grandparents - the great importance of taking care of our planet since I was a child.
RYB: What currently inspires La Isla?
La Isla: Colombia, California, flowers, birds, art. It’s never ending and that makes it extremely exciting.
RYB: Why should someone commit to buying products from a brand such as yours?
La Isla: Everyone has the right to decide what they buy and what they don’t buy, but I would like to say that when someone buys a product from us, they are making a direct contribution to the causes we work so hard for. Environmental protection and preservation, water conservation, and animal protection amongst others.
RYB: How can an existing fashion line remodel their business so that they are more sustainable?
La Isla: The possibility to change existing methods of production and every-day operations is enormous. Things like hosting their emails in a solar powered server (like we do), to finding mills who are following environmental regulations and exceeding them are just a few items that can be considered (theres is a lot that can be done). Companies like Patagonia are a beautiful example of what can be achieved at the highest level for sustainability. Having a social conscience is a must when wanting to implement more sustainable practices. It starts from home. Any small bit helps and as long as the directors and employees of a company believe in change, they will make it happen.
RYB: What is the best piece of advice you would give an entrepreneur looking to create a brand with a positive impact on the world?
La Isla: Look around you and focus on the issues that trouble you the most and that you are most passionate about, and then build your brand around that passion. Your suppliers, clients and friends will all see how badly you want to change the world and everyone will want to help. Building a brand is extremely difficult but we have succeeded because of our persistence and our passion.
RYB: What does the future hold for La Isla?
La Isla: We are excited about continuing to grow our business lines. We have had an incredibly successful launch of our fitness wear and our men’s swim trunks and our new swim line is around the corner. I am personally excited about the new innovations our vendors, like the fabric mills, are coming up with that help us expand our sustainability practices and that make our product greener. We are also looking to work more closely with the non-profit organizations we have partnered with and expand the work we do with them.