Get to know the one woman show behind the bright and beautiful pieces at HeadPeace, Lindsay Theken.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business, HeadPeace Headbands?
I will be honest, I had never done anything this entrepreneurial before. Looking back, I was probably way out of my element. I had been listening to podcasts and reading books on how to start your own business. I knew I didn’t want a service-oriented business, so I started thinking about products I could create and sell. I love headbands, and because I couldn’t find the perfect one in the marketplace, I decided that was where it was at for me. I knew that by combining design elements from a few of my favorites, I could create the perfect headband – one that was comfortable, stylish, and functional. After researching how I would find a manufacturer, I realized most of these textile companies were located in China.
This was a little discouraging to me for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t speak Chinese and I really had no idea how to find out how their employees were treated or the conditions in which they worked. While I am sure most of these factories were reputable, the lack of transparency just didn’t sit well with me. I knew I wanted to find a manufacturer that was committed to operating in an ethical and socially- responsible way, and was also able to offer high-quality product. So, I put my project on hold until I could find the right partner. As luck would have it, a few weeks later, I ended up striking up a conversation with another mom at my daughter’s gymnastics practice. She told me her family was from Colorado, but lived in Nepal, where her family has a fair trade, ethical manufacturing company, called Purnaa.
I learned that Purnaa helps women coming out of slavery and sex-trafficking situations get back on their feet by providing them employment opportunities in the garment industry. I immediately knew my partnership with Purnaa was meant to be! I now refer to this chance encounter as my “divine coincidence.” Over the next few months, my husband and I worked closely with this wonderful couple on designing my headbands, picking out fabrics, and creating a manufacturing plan…and HeadPeace was born!
How many employees do you have both Internationally and Nationally?
I am a one man show! My manufacturer, Purnaa employees 90 people in Nepal.
How do you choose your prints? Are there any artists you wish to work with for future designs?
I actually choose my prints off a website my fabric supplier hosts for its customers–I typically have tens of thousands of options to pick through. I then put my top 25 on Facebook and have my friends, family, and HeadPeace community “like” their favorites. I would absolutely be interested in working with an artist in the future! Great idea!
Are there any practices or lesson you learned from your time as a Hydrologist that you have applied to HeadPeace?
Hmmmmm……I would say being a Hydrologist in Alaska, I was often in the middle of nowhere, dealing with all of the elements–weather and wildlife being the most dangerous. I often would fly in to various rivers off the grid (via small plane or helicopter), and would be working on cold rivers of various sizes–and it was my call whether or not the river was safe to navigate, or whether the weather changes would prevent us from flying home. I often would need to problem solve these ever-changing elements to keep myself safe and alive. I think that does apply to HeadPeace, but obviously in a different way 🙂
What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
I love being able to work at home on my own schedule. I love being able to be 100% there to meet my kid’s needs. I love knowing my work efforts can pay me as much as they’re worth, rather than an hourly wage 🙂
What are your go-to pieces in your collections?
Definitely the Original Bands–they’re by far my best seller! My Lightweight Hats are fairly new and I’ve been loving them as well!
How does HeadPeace help the community in Nepal?
Check this out (it’s my manufacturer’s Social Impact Statement)–they are doing sooooo many amazing things in Nepal, and I’m grateful to partner with them! More info HERE.
If you had one piece of advice to someone starting out, what would it be?
Don’t give up! Over the course of the past 5 years, there have certainly been situations where I’ve been discouraged. It would have been easy to throw in the towel, but I’m grateful I took a step back, thought about the issue through a different lense, and pushed through the problem from a different angle. Also, I have had big box retailers say “no” more than once–I’ve made it a priority to reach out every quarter to see if things have changed on their end….and eventually, this “no” sometimes becomes a “yes.”
Do you involve your children in the business? Whether it be from designs/prints to everyday tasks?
My kids definitely help me with day-to-day tasks such as filling orders, organizing product, and re-packing headbands with proper hang tags–and yes, HeadPeace does pay them for their time 😉
What is on the horizon for HeadPeace?
My effort at the moment has been to grow HeadPeace’s presence in the country. I’ve spent a lot of time reaching out to new retailers, opening wholesale accounts. A dozen new headband prints should hit the market this Spring as well!
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