Meet Angela Saxena – mother, visionary, and business women behind Lav and Kush, a proudly Canadian made loungewear company.
Tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up?
- I was born in England, raised in a small town in Saskatchewan to Indo-Canadian parents. My Dad was a doctor in our small town. Looking back, I loved growing up in small town Saskatchewan. As a teen I couldn't wait to get out, but as an adult, I loved going back to visit. Nothing beats those prairie skies!
When did your interest in design begin?
- From a very young age, I was always sketching and dreaming of designs. I would sketch in my dads’ medical books, drawing nurses in pretty dresses. He would laugh and say I was going to be “some kind of artist”. They still have kept many of my old drawings. The downside to growing up in small town in the 70's ( yes I just dated myslelf!) is that there wasn't a lot of exposure in school to careers other than the mainstream; education, farming, medicine, finance. Arts wasn't really encouraged or talked about!
I was that kid sensitive to clothes, tags, rough itchy fabrics, etc. I suppose this was my early motivation to source the softest, plushiest, fabrics later on! See, it all starts somewhere!
Early claim to fame- I actually won a contest and got my designs featured into the Archie comic books, with a dress design worn on Veronica! I was obsessed with the Archies, so this was a pivotal point for me :) ( lol true story!)
How did you develop that childhood dream?
- I left Saskatchewan to go to fashion school in Calgary, then Vancouver. I dreamed of designing dresses for movie stars but I also had a huge love of comfy stylish clothing. I was always socially and environmentally conscious, so while pulling all-nighters sewing up my latest project I was also lamenting as to why I wasn’t in school for wildlife biology or conservation! There was always a duality around wanting to create fashion yet try to help the world. Again, early seeds of finding sustainable and ethically fabrics and production! Many people ask about the name. In Hindu mythology, Lord Rama had 2 sons named Lav and Kush, they lived in the woods with their mother Sita and became fierce little warriors and protectors of the woods. Its a wonderful story of the Ramayana, which is what the Indian festival Diwalli is based on. My father told me the story -again- when I was little, and I just fell in love with it. I vowed to name my future business Lav and Kush.
Cultural side note: I would take my moms' GORGEOUS sari’s ( traditional Indian woman’s dress) and re-purpose them into pant suits!
When and how did Lav and Kush come into play?
- After fashion school, a fashion sales representative job fell into my lap. I loved it, being quite social, fashion sales was so much fun. I started my own sales agency in 2000 and then when the time was right I started Lav and Kush (round 1) in 2007. Back then we had a dress-heavy focus, very fashionable and feminine. It was an exciting time for local designers; sustainable fabrics were quite new and it was all so exciting to feel like we were helping to create fashion that was doing somewhat something positive environmentally. The design focus was about pretty styles in sustainable fabrics. We got into over 150 stores across Canada and US, but the economy hit hard in 2011 so we took a break to build something even more important - our family. My son Ryder was born 2012, Kairo was born 2014.
How did you keep the 'Lav and Kush' dream alive? How did it evolve into what it is today?
- A dream rarely dies, especially when that dream starting at a super young age. I still had a unfulfilled desire to re-birth Lav and Kush. Especially after becoming a busy working mama, I saw a HUGE need for comfy everyday clothes. Because of my new lifestyle as a mother, I was inspired to make clothes that were versatile, that were actually flattering as well as incredibly comfortable, and clothes that really don’t involve much effort. Fast forward to now, we create comfy loungewear that one could wear everywhere!
What is your current-day dream? How do you see yourself developing your company?
-Our big dream is to have factories in Bangladesh and other developing countries with full transparency. We want to be able to show our customers who the people making their clothes are. We would offer our employees profit share, build community, and truly help the families in those communities. We aspire for tons more philanthropic work as the company becomes more profitable.
Does your family support Lav and Kush and this dream of yours?
-Yes! My parents are still alive (early 90’s) and are so proud, but they still want to see the brand grow larger so we can survive on this dream. My dad had tears in his eyes when he saw me walk the runway after our first show at Vancouver Fashion week in 2009. I will never forget that moment! My husband and kids continue to support the dream, my daughter will not stop wearing her rompers! But my son refuses to ever touch a romper! And honestly, my Australian hubby refuses also! No man rompers for him! Pj pants - absolutely!
Can you share with us your company ethos?
-We offer clothes for the family which will bring joy to the whole crew! We practice and encourage stress-less dressing! We work with sustainable fabrics that are softer than butter to make you feel and look beautiful and happy. We are ethically produced in Vancouver BC. Life can be stressful, dressing should not be! We want you to feel like you are getting a huge warm hug when you step into a Lav and Kush garment. And honestly, it really DOES! We create garments that are super versatile and that you can wear all day every day, clothing that will empower women and support them throughout their day. We hope everyone falls in love with their slice of garment joy!
You can visit Lav and Kush online at www.lavandkush.net, or on Instagram and Facebook- @lavandkush.