interview with Tasha Kendall of How we soul
In the midst of the most beautiful island scenes on Maui, you’ll find world-changer Tasha Kendall, founder and CEO of How We Soul, dreaming and thoughtfully designing your next pair of leggings. These ethically made, eco-friendly pieces of art, derived from an idea planted in Tasha’s heart more than 17 years ago during a teaching opportunity in Botswana. Fast forward to 2015, where Tasha used her athletic background, creativity and passion for others to birth How We Soul. Today, 100% of their proceeds after production costs support the Botswana Orphan Project, bringing to life Tasha’s original vision and desire to leave the world a more beautiful place. Here is our interview with visionary and design maven, Tasha Kendall:
At just a glimpse, it’s evident that How We Soul is more than just a legging company, your team truly embraces the philosophy of making the world a more beautiful place! Can you tell us briefly about your business and how it was born?
How We Soul started as a company just under two years ago, but the inspiration behind the brand actually began about 17 years ago. At that time, I chose to take a year off of college to be a volunteer teacher in Gaborone, Botswana (a place I had to google to figure out exactly where it was!). That year, spent with such beautiful people in a beautiful location, has shaped every year since. Fast forward to just over two years ago when I reconnected (through the magic of Facebook) with a friend I made while living in Botswana. He told me about how he had spearheaded the Botswana Orphan Project, and I immediately knew I wanted to support him in any way I could. And that's when How We Soul was born.
What is the inspiration behind the name How We Soul?
Oh mercy, naming this company took longer than anything else! Our team had been brainstorming ideas for months and couldn't find the right fit. One day, we were talking about the layers of intentionality we wanted to put behind every piece of clothing. And, as a lover of a play on words, I mentioned "intentionality is how we roll.......or more like how we SOUL". We tried other names after that, but it was the only one that seemed to capture the "why" behind our brand.
It’s really inspiring the way HWS harnesses the power of fashion for the good of others. Can you tell us how you became connected with the Botswana Orphan Project and why you chose to support this organization through your business?
While living in Botswana, there was a local family that wrapped us (myself and two other volunteers) in and made us feel at home. They fed us delicious food, let us shower in their house when our shower broke, and basically treated us like family. One of their sons graduated from engineering school and later spearheaded the Botswana Orphan Project (BOP). Personally knowing someone who is directly involved in the orphan center is HUGE for me. It allows me to know what their needs are, what they've accomplished, and how the money we donate is spent. And giving back to a community that was so welcoming to me is incredibly energizing, to say the least!
This year HWS is partnering with Dressember and providing a really amazing incentive to one of our advocates! Why is Dressember important to you, and what was the motivation for supporting this year’s campaign?
Trafficking has always been something that I feel very passionate about stopping. Many of my favorite brands that I've had the opportunity to partner with, such as UNCVRD Jewelry and Citizen and Darling, are champions of anti-trafficking efforts. So when I became aware of Dressember through a friend who was a Dressember advocate, I was an immediate fan! I jumped at the chance to partner with Dressember and support them in any way I can.
One of the unique aspects of HWS is the way each piece is designed to take you from “work to workout” so easily. Why is versatility important in your designs and products?
I grew up with sports as a huge part of my identity; from basketball, to football, to gymnastics, to coaching. Though I no longer spend half my day in a gym, I didn’t want to give up the comfort of my workout clothing (Any day in an elastic waist is a great day!) But I was frustrated that wearing leggings outside of the house makes you look like "you're not trying". So every legging design starts with the intention of being able to wear it to a yoga class AND to the office. This versatility is also very beneficial if you're working towards a capsule, or at least more minimal, closet.
The aesthetic of each of your designs are just gorgeous – from vibrant florals to the perfect white and black prints – there is truly a style for everyone. As the heart behind each legging design, where do you draw your inspiration from when coming up with a new style or pattern?
I draw inspiration from pretty much everywhere! Much of my brainstorming centers around Pinterest, but I also gain ideas from people I see walking down the street, items I see in the store, and things I wish were available in stores but that I can't find. I often see something that reminds me more of what I don't want to do rather than what I should do. I also collaborate with illustrators/graphic designers who have patterns that jump out at me (you can find links to their website in our product descriptions).
When someone purchases a pair of HWS leggings what impact does that translate to for the children at the Botswana Orphan Project?
So much!!! At the surface, each legging funds about 4 days of preschool and 8 healthy meals for a child who is orphaned (or is at risk of being orphaned) by AIDS. But the impact goes much deeper than that. The funds we donate to BOP help give marketing, guidance, team support, and so much more. The centers also provide public health seminars, soup kitchens, sewing and computer classes, self-worth workshops, and anti-domestic violence campaigns. For every inch we help the BOP centers, they run a mile.
One of the ways HWS is making the world more beautiful is through the thoughtful fabric choices and eco-friendly processes you have in place! Can you tell us briefly about your fabric choices and production processes?
Absolutely! Each product is sourced and manufactured in Montreal, where employees are paid above the minimum wage and receive paid breaks and paid internships. All paper waste is recycled and excess garments are donated to local inner city shelters. By sourcing our material and manufacturing the leggings in the same city, we help reduce our carbon footprint. And our Eco-Poly fibers use 70% less water, 70% less heat, and 70% less energy than traditional polyester, because less is definitely more! We also run a made-to-order business, so when you order a piece from us, that piece is printed, cut, and sewn just for you. This greatly reduces waste of unsold items.
"The true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives. The passion that she knows."
In the fast-fashion world, issues like human and sex trafficking are closely connected to this industry. HWS is an amazing way to purchase fair trade and ethically produced items that help change the negative footprint of the fashion world. Why are having fair trade/ethically produced products important to HWS?
When I began researching manufacturers, it became clear that we could choose a cheaper, non-ethical manufacturer or a significantly more expensive, ethical one. For our team, it made absolutely no sense to own a company that is trying to help one part of the world, while hurting another. So choosing an ethical manufacturer was a no-brainer for us, and something we are incredibly proud of.
With 31 days of wearing dresses during the Dressember campaign, leggings will likely be a girls best friend! What are some of your favorite prints from HWS that ladies can style with their dresses this year?
Yes, if you live in a cold area, layering is key! My favorite winter print is our Cranberry Plaid, that would pair really well with a sweater dress. For dressy/holiday leggings, I would go with our Shimmer print (it's my hubby's favorite). If your dress is patterned, you can't go wrong with our subtle Noir legging. And my favorite print for year-round is our brand-new Midnight Blooms.
We are inspired by Tasha & the way she is using fashion to make the world a better place. If you're interested in shopping her fun line of leggings or finding out more about Botswana Orphan Project, check out their website linked below!
About the Author
Michaela Judge is a military veteran and Southern transplant. As a Public Relations specialist by day, she is overjoyed to use her love of writing to help fight for freedom and justice through Dressember! Her favorite moments are spent with her husband, Phil, and daughter, Ellie, adventuring in Charleston, South Carolina, and spreading hospitality