Few handbag brands have captured our attention in recent seasons quite like Future Glory. The brainchild of Chicago native Theresa Lee, the line was founded with social consciousness in mind, supporting causes she feels passionate about. The brand has grown so quickly in recent seasons that they just moved to their own factory and work space in San Francisco, allowing them to grow their production while focusing on the brands tenets, from quality products to their Apprenticeship program, which trains women in basic manufacturing and business skills. Read on for our interview with Theresa to learn more about the line.
One of the first things you state in your “about” section is that Future Glory is a socially conscious brand. What came first—the idea to create a brand, or supporting social causes with a brand? The idea to create a brand came first but Future Glory is really an intersection of a few core interests of mine. I think humans deep in their being want to contribute and make a difference. Most of us spend the majority of our lives working, so with that in mind, I wanted my job and my life to have a greater, meaningful impact.
Was fashion and accessories design something you always aspired to? If you weren’t designing, what do you feel you’d be doing instead? San Francisco is so tech oriented and male dominated, so I wanted to go the complete opposite way. I always loved fashion, but actually feel that I could design for any category that I find interesting. I really feel I was meant to be a designer so I don't think I could be anything other than that!
What are some of the challenges in designing with social consciousness in mind? I think it's tempting to take shortcuts when you see how other businesses conduct themselves and get away with things. We've had a couple multi-billion dollar companies blatantly steal our designs and it makes you wonder why you've gone about it the hard way.
You just moved to a new factory space—how exciting! What precipitated the move? What are you most excited for in this new space? We had been working out of my home studio loft and we just started to run out of room! We totally love all the space and the ability to grow our business to the next stage.
How did you decide what causes to support with your brand? Do you have plans to expand on these initiatives in the future? I think we've all seen a woman's struggle -- whether it may be from seeing an abusive relationship, being a single mother or simply not given an opportunity. We wanted to be a vehicle that could help women get back on their feet by simply offering an opportunity or by sharing proceeds to local women's charities.
What inspired you to start your Apprenticeship program? What successes have you seen come from it? We started the Apprenticeship simply out of a desire to help women who need it. It means so much to be able to provide training and jobs to women and visibly see their living situation improve.
How would you describe the Future Glory girl? What does she do, where does she go, who does she surround herself with? A Future Glory girl is a girl who goes against the grain. She cares about how her products are made, she's individualistic and she's unique. She surrounds herself with positivity despite everything that goes on in the world.
One challenge to growing a brand is internal; finding the right team. What do you look for when hiring new employees or people to work with you? Raw talent and the right attitude is everything. Is this their purpose in life? Will they work hard? Are they willing to learn and grow? f so, I can work with that. If not, I encourage them to pursue something that is fulfilling to them.
Getting your own label off the ground is about much more than designing. What is a typical day like for you? Are there any parts you find more challenging than others? I'm actually still very hands on in the production process. Of course, I spend a portion of my day with business administrative things but find that I prefer the hands-on tasks. There are so many challenges with running a business -- from all the taxes, paperwork, licences, etc!
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received, and if you had to give someone advice, what would it be? Jenna Lyons said something to the effect that overnight success is actually not overnight but is actually a slow burn.
I always tell people that success in a business comes from 50% hard work and 50% mental perseverance. I'm not the most talented designer and I'm not the smartest business person out there, but I can say that I can outwork a lot of people. I believe anyone can succeed if they are able to navigate and persevere through all the challenges that arise.
Fill in the blank: The last book I read was...Life Hacks My winter playlist includes...The Weeknd The designers I admire most are... Alessandro Michele, Olivier Rousteing, Zaha Hadid My go-to drink order is...anything fruity I’m most inspired by...rebels, heros, saints The three things always in my bag are...phone, keys, wallet I would describe my personal style as...athleisure My biggest guilty pleasure is...killing time on facebook The next place I want to travel is...Scandinavia The best part about living on the West Coast is...the state of mind