Kirrin Finch is a conscientious clothing company, founded by Brooklyn-based couple Laura Moffat and Kelly Sanders Moffat, that meets the growing demand for gender-defying fashion by creating menswear-inspired apparel designed to fit a range of female and non-binary bodies. We spoke to co-founder Laura about their journey.
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Tell us a little about your business? What steps led you to where you are now?
I founded Kirrin Finch in 2015 with my wife Kelly because we were frustrated at being unable to find clothing for our wedding that matched our design, fit and style preferences. We had always envied men’s clothing, but it wasn’t designed to fit our bodies. And womenswear always felt too feminine. So the shopping experience was always demotivating and left us feeling like we didn’t fit in somehow. Despite the fact we didn’t have any experience in fashion, we felt compelled to start the business because we knew there was a huge unmet need for clothing that fell outside the traditional binary options of womenswear and menswear.
We launched the brand with a button-up shirt and over the last 5 years have built out our collection to include a whole range of menswear-inspired clothing and accessories. Our motto has always been to perfect one product at a time and make sure it has the best design and fit possible before moving on to add new products. We were very proud to launch our first suit at the beginning of 2020 since this was the impetus for starting the brand in the first place. And now almost a year later, we have seen countless photos and received many e-mails from customers who have worn our suits to their wedding. They have told us how happy and confident they felt to be wearing something that made them feel truly authentic. That feels very special and validating.
Is community important to you? How has the LGBT+ community impacted your business?
100%. We didn’t start the brand because we wanted to just be another clothing company making shirts and pants. We started the brand because we wanted to solve a problem for all the other people (like us) who felt let down by fashion, and were not able to truly be themselves because no-one had taken the time to provide a product or brand just for them. We are part of the LGBT+ community and we serve the LGBT+ community. We want their voices to be heard and their fashion choices to be seen and embraced. Lesbians always get stereotyped as being unfashionable, but that is not true. It is just that no-one has given us the opportunity to be truly confident in our own skin.
When we first shopped around our business plan, advisors told us not to target the queer community. They said it is too small. You need to go bigger. And definitely don’t use the words, queer or LGBT+ because you’ll just alienate other people who may want to buy from you. But we really wanted to serve our community and help make them feel good about themselves, so we didn’t listen to our advisors. We have been in business for 5 years, seen lots of our similar businesses start and fail and we’ve stayed true to the mission and managed to grow year over year to the point where we have healthy margins and profits.
Do you feel that being an LGBT+ founder has had an impact on your journey? What challenges and benefits have you experienced?
I live in Brooklyn, NY, so I am just one among many of LGBT+ folks. It is a great community to be part of. I can easily reach out to other LGBT+ founders and get advice or tap into other LGBT+ business networks, so there is an advantage to being part of such a connected group. We are all looking out for each other and want to help in any way we can. But in many ways I am shielded from the realities of being out and proud in places where being queer or gay is not accepted. We hear stories from customers in rural parts of the country where you can be fired for showing your true identity.
What are you excited about for the future?
I am excited for our customers and people in our community to be embraced and accepted for who they are no matter how they identify or express themselves.
And for the pandemic to be over! 2020 has been a tough year for everyone, including us. We are ready for people (including us) to get back to wearing clothing to the office, events, and special occasions.