Sometimes we get the chance to interview amazing women, this was one of those times. Emilee Troulan recently gave us an insight into her fashion brand TRU The Label, where we learned about her Bajan background, her business aspirations, and why she wants potential shoppers to touch her gorgeous fabrics.
Tell us about the journey that led you to launch your brand TRU the label…
As a young girl I always knew I wanted to work in fashion and have my own store, I just always thought it would be a multi-brand store. Being born and raised on a small island like Barbados, the shopping and fashion scene was not where it is now – it was either super expensive and not the best quality or it was super cheap and bad quality. All this to say, it’s 100% better now and you can find some amazing pieces in Barbados, the talent on the island is crazy!
After leaving school at 16, I came to the UK to gain some work experience in the fashion industry, I then moved back to Barbados after 3 months and managed a new boutique which was opening a few months after I returned, after 1 year I partnered up with a local designer, Isabelle founder of Sea Reinas Swimwear and we opened her first flagship store in Limegrove which is a very well established lifestyle centre in Barbados – it was really Bella who got me thinking to start TRU, she mentored me and guided me through the starting phases, without her I really wouldn’t have known where to start.
I have a strong love for good denim, soft tees and pieces that are timeless and essential so I knew that if I were to start a clothing brand, it would need to reflect my style and who I am, which is why TRU is the brand that it is, a luxe essentials clothing brand from Barbados. Always inspired by the simplicity of island living!
I knew that my brand would need to be slow fashion by using responsibly sourced fabrics, amazing quality that actually lasted after 10 washes, have a sense of community as a customer base and also attention to detail- like the vegan leather embossed tags on each of the pieces. I always had a vision for the end goal for TRU, I still have it in my head and I TRUly feel like I’m on the right path.
From launching my first three styles in Barbados I then went out on my own to do my first popup shop at Topshop on Oxford Circus for two weeks in August 2018 with an entire summer collection – what an experience that was! I knew from then exactly where I needed to be and where I could actually take the brand. It took a few years to make the move to London, but now I’m here with my first flagship store in Boxpark Shoreditch! This is only the beginning and I’m so excited for the future of TRU.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
I would say taking the leap and trusting in myself – this being said for moving from Barbados to London and also even just by launching a collection. There’s a lot of self doubt that comes with entrepreneurship and having a clothing brand, but you have to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, remember that you bring something unique to the world and that the world deserves to see your talent! So go for it, know that not everyone is going to like it but be okay with that, you’ll find your people and they will be there for you no matter what!
If you were to describe your business mantra in 3 words, what would they be?
Authenticity, Ambition, Confidence.
Our mantra is our brand hashtag #TRUTOYOU – meaning to be the most authentic you there is, unapologetically.
What advice would you offer anyone interested in venturing into the clothing and fashion industry?
I would say be patient when it comes to growth, have a strong passion for the brand you’re creating if not you’ll lose motivation quickly, have a plan but also have the mindset to adapt and pivot when things don’t go the way you necessarily want them to, understand your customer and listen to them (notice I said customer and not just ‘people’), pay attention to details because that will set you apart from the competition and remember that done is better than perfect, anyone can make up excuses as to why they haven’t launched yet or find a fault that prevents them from actually going for it, remember nothing is perfect so best to get it done and change it up than never do it and live in a ‘what if’ scenario – lastly, make sure it’s slow fashion, we have enough fast fashion in the world…
Talk us through an average business day in you life….
Wake up around 7am and always make my bed (routine is important to me), gym at 7:30, come back home and have a coffee while listening to a podcast (my favourite for the morning is Mindset Mentor) this is really my time to connect with myself and get in a good mindset for the day ahead, then I get ready around 9:30am to head to the shop to open for 11am – some days when it’s nice and sunny I’ll walk to the shop which takes about 45mins and open up – while at the shop between clients I am working on all the behind the scenes- mostly marketing, orders, customer service, design and buying new bits for the shop to complement TRU. I usually leave the shop around 7:30/8pm and head home to relax for the evening- this sometimes includes a glass of wine with dinner. If it’s coming up to launch I sometimes bring work home with me, but I really try not to.
Business can be an upward struggle at time, what do you do to stay positive?
I remember that everything happens for a reason and that there are no wrong decisions just lessons to be learnt. I always look at my vision board both personal and for my business and I remember what my goals are and brainstorm how I will get there – it makes me excited for what’s to come and keeps me on track.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
I wouldn’t say it’s a quote but a reminder to myself to take a break, do something for myself and then come back to the task with a fresh mindset. Burnout is something I suffer with a lot, and I always need to remember that it’s actually OKAY to take a break.
How much has social media played a role in the success of the brand?
Social media is a big part of our marketing and community for sure, particularly Instagram – it’s the platform that I feel is the most ‘in-the-moment’ and authentic – we always get the most engagement from posts that involve behind the scenes or the not so glamorous side of the business, which is why I love the TRUPER community so much because it really is all about being #TRUTOYOU
How do you want people to feel when they first see and try your clothing?
I want people to pass by the store, see the clothing hanging on the racks and feel the need to touch the fabrics, because they are indeed as soft as they look! I always encourage customers (TRUPERS) to try the pieces on because not only do they feel and look great on the hanger, but they feel and look even better on your skin! I make luxe essentials, which is exactly what it sounds like- pieces that are essential in your closet that actually last. I want all my customers to feel confident and comfortable not just in the clothes, but in themselves.
Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list and what TRU clothes would you take with you?
Italy (no doubt in my mind) preferably the Amalfi Coast – I’ll be taking the Lia Skirt, Stephanie Tee, Vero Top and Tessa Palm Dress – and maaaaybe (absolutely) the new pieces launching soon which are a denim set in an eco friendly tie dye wash.
What’s next for your brand?
I’ve got some big plans and goals for TRU, but I would say the 10 year goal is to have the ultimate TRU store of my dreams- but for right now it would be establishing the flagship store in London, doing more popup shops in London and other parts of England to get more brand awareness, expanding the TRU•MAN range to have more styles and then launching more capsule collections to keep things fresh and fun!
Where can people find out more about TRU The Label?
Everything there is to know if on our website TRU The Label – or if they are in the area pop in to the shop at Boxpark in Shoreditch to hear the brand story from myself or Jasmine who has been working with TRU since 2018 when I first started doing popup shops in London!