Q&A with Katherine, Lake Jane's founder
The team at Lake Jane sat down with Katherine and asked her a bunch of questions about starting the brand, her current fav undie combo, what sustainable fashion means to her, and why she chose Durham as her home base.
Why did you start Lake Jane and what inspires your collections?
I design around my own needs and the gaps I have in my own wardrobe. When I was living in NYC, I couldn't find simple, black cotton undies and a great white tee that felt affordable and well made...so I decided to make some! So much of my inspiration is the clothing I was wearing in the when I was growing up in the 90s — the Gap, J.Crew, etc. Then, those items were so well made and lasted for many seasons. I want Lake Jane’s collections to supersede seasons and last and get better with age and wear.
This one’s a must: favorite undie combo?
What does “sustainable fashion” mean to you?
To me, it means doing the least harm with the best intentions. We make everything in factories here in North Carolina and use fabrics that are made in the USA with USA-grown cotton. I like that we're helping to support jobs and farmers here in the USA. From a design standpoint, it's about making things that I feel are really missing in the marketplace, and not just cranking out collections for the sake of it. We’re always looking for little ways to make a difference — we don’t use plastic in our packaging, we recycle cardstock for our postcards, and one of our factories takes all of our scraps and turns them over to a company that shreds them up and re-spins them into a new fabric. I think that's pretty cool.
On the subject of travel, where are you most looking forward to visiting?
I’ve spent the past year and a half mainly here in Durham. I’ve been lucky to get to go up to the mountains and to the coast to visit family and friends but I am eager to get out of the country. I’ve realized during this time how energizing it is to me to travel abroad and drop into a new culture and way of living. Right now, Copenhagen in the winter sounds great and I hope to get to Oaxaca next year sometime to study textiles.
Your favorite part of being a small business owner?
The agency over my time! I told myself I never wanted to have to write a cover letter, I never wanted to buy “work” clothes again, and I never wanted to ask anyone if I could have vacation time. I also love the connection that it’s brought me. One of the reasons I wanted to start my own business was as a means for me to travel and connect with people who were doing the same things.
Lake Jane isn’t just a brand. It’s a place. What does it mean to you?
Lake Jane is the name of the sweet little pond on my parent’s property where I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. When I think about it (and why I wanted to use it for the brand name), it reminds me to relax, take in the beauty around me, and remember that it’s always changing. I love looking at Lake Jane in the summer when the trees surrounding it are green and lush, in the fall when the trees are so vibrant in their color, and I love the winter pond that’s iced over.
Why Durham, North Carolina?
I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After years of living in NYC, I was ready to come back to North Carolina to launch Lake Jane and tap into the textile infrastructure that's here. Durham has been such a cool place to launch a business. There are so many smart entrepreneurs (including lots of women and BIPOC-owned businesses) here and the community really does rally around one another to help each other grow and succeed. It's really special.
What’s next for Lake Jane?
We’re launching something new with our friend and stylist Alex Long at the end of the month, and have a new color coming up in December that I’m excited about. The past two years, we’ve been fortunate to partner with some of our favorite shops and have gone all over the country doing pop ups. Slow and steady growth is the name of the game for us and we look forward to more of that in the years to come.
Mentioned in this article
Meet Emma Allen, founder of Everyday Oil. Read on to learn a little bit more about Emma Allen, fellow North Carolinian and founder of the best-smelling, plant-based skincare brand, Everyday Oil, and how she effortlessly styles her Lake Jane blue wireless bralette.