Here at House of Coco magazine it’s no secret that we love travel. So when we stumbled across Voya, a fashion brand heavily influenced by travel, we felt like it was a match made in heaven.
Voya is their love of travel, fashion and people combined. Using contemporary design they engineer travel orientated fashion, creating flexible pieces made to work for people on the go and to last beyond the season. Using ethical production and sustainable fabrics, they stay conscious to the world around them and aim to inspire you to do the same.
Everything about their ethos is in line with ours so we fell propelled to spend some time with the founder to find out more. Here, we chat to Louise Heim about the brand, her plans for the future and more…
Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching Voya Official…
The CEO & Founder Louise, is a world citizen, she is British born and studied fashion design in London, then worked in the Middle East for 5 years, then on to China mainland for another 5 years & finally HK, where she launched Voya. After working in fast fashion for over 10 years and visiting many different factories for production and understanding the awful reality behind fast fashion. She wanted to try to find ‘the light’ within this wasteful industry and decided to develop her own brand working directly with a family run ethical factory in partnership to launch VOYA.
The concept behind Voya came from an Asian trip she was doing with a close friend, they were meeting in Beijing in December, which is very cold as it is winter season, then on to Vietnam, which in December is abit warmer, and ended in Laos which is super hot at that time, it was a tricky trip to pack for especially as someone who cares a lot about her carbon emissions and likes to pack light. She released the need for a capsule multi-wearable wardrobe, and as a fashion designer she didn’t like traditional ’travel garments’ and craved something much more contemporary.
She started to design and plan her ideal travel capsule wardrobe – which natural fabrics to use, and which are better for which climates. She developed the initial samples, using breathable and natural fabrics, using creaseproof treatments, ideal for travelling and started to build a capsule wardrobe based on that initial journey and then tested it out on other journeys around Asia. Voya was started.
You give back to local communities and we love that you do this, tell us more…
5% of our profits go to supporting local charities. For each garment sold we donate to the local charities in the area of the production. For the garments produced in our Hangzhou factory in China 2018-2020, we donate to the Chinese based children’s charity, Educate A Child. We recently sponsored to a school building project in Guizhou province, which is one of the most impoverished areas of China.
We offset all our carbon emissions using two methods. Firstly we use the company carbonfootprint.com to help us calculate and then offset all our personal & cargo carbon emissions annually. This is calculated on our companies business and personal trips. We list all of our teams trips, commutes and our offices energy bills, & our cargo sea routes as well as our parcel air freights. To save carbon emissions we send all our stock by sea freight. Which is slower but less damaging to the environment. Then we also use Offet, which is integrated with our online store and calculates the carbon emissions on each order, so the logistics & transport of the each parcels sent from our warehouse in the UK, to our customers addresses, is also carbon neutral.
Through these companies we are able to offset our emissions mainly through tree-planting projects in the UK (and recently was able to donate to South Wales school planting project) & Deforestation projects in the Amazon Rainforest. So we are actually able to offset the carbon, plant and protect forests and biodiversity in 2 continents at the same time.
Who’s behind the brand and what are their roles?
Louise is based between UK, HK and China. – currently in UK working remotely with the China/HK team.
China/HK team – Logistics and production, with a full time staff based in the partnership factory to monitor production methods and to focus on quality control.
UK team – Digital marketing, PR, Customer Service.
Content Writers – Freelance Worldwide.
Do you plan on expanding the range in the future?
Yes we do, we are about to launch a European Summer collection (July), and currently developing our winter collection. We aren’t following a traditional fashion schedule as we are making timeless travel fashion, we will always have multi-season product on our site, so that you can buy what you need for where you are travelling at any time of the year.
Given that the brand is heavily influenced by travel, what destination is at the top of your travel bucket list?
Bora Bora – Louise was supposed to be getting married in September, as everyone else has had to we have had to postpone until next year.
Talk us through an average day in your life…
Louise : Wake up, check my emails, meditate, go for a morning run, morning emails, updates from the team – talk to China team for production and development status, talk to the UK team for customer feedback, social media content, new collections design & developments. Chinese study, I have been studying Chinese for around 3 years, so still need to practice around one hour per day. 6:30 Call my family, everyday I have been speaking to my sheltering grandparents on the telephone. Then continue working usually work most days until 9-10pm.
How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?
It is fundamental to the brand, but as a new brand we are still developing our best strategies, so the best is still yet to come.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
水滴石穿 Water drops wear down stone – so it means, persistent efforts overcome any difficulty.
How has Covid19 impacted your business?
We are used to working remotely and working with various people all around the world, so our working way or structure hasn’t changed much. Our UK warehouse was great to respond really well to the social distancing guidelines, so we didn’t have to stop selling or take any sort of break. We kept all our commitments to our production factory and didn’t reduce or cancel any styles, following our ethos, as a slow fashion brand, that works with a permanent basic collection we design and order a small quantity for our store and simply reorder when the styles have a greater demand, to be more sustainable and less wasteful. The biggest impact was really more internal, and as a company we tried to think about all the teams mental health at this time, and provided mediation app subscriptions for all staff members.
What does self care mean to you?
Right now, I think it is more important to be kind to yourself than ever. Breathe in the outside space, walk or run in the countryside.
Take some time each day to be still.
Have you had to make any pivots to survive the pandemic?
Rethink the marketing strategy and plan, a lot of people will be taking a break from travelling, and a lot of our content is travel related, our blog is full of what to wear guides, travel destination guides, so we have been using them as a self care tool, to inspire a sense of wanderlust, letting your mind wander to brighter, happier places.
Where can people find out more?