A Conversation with Gina Stovall, The Founder of 'Two Days Off'
Gina Stovall is a climate researcher and the founder of Two Days Off, bringing a fresh perspective to the slow fashion industry. Textile production is one of the world’s largest polluter, and Gina’s on a mission to save energy by producing garments from left-over textile production runs, also known as dead-stock fabric. This brand consciously creates limited edition pieces, only 5 to 50 people will uniquely own. Gina and I sit down in her LA workshop to chat about scaling a business on the weekends, and outside of 9 am to 5 pm, leading a minimalist lifestyle, and the story behind making her own clothes.
Gina and I have been friends for years in New York City, where we’re both from. We’ve encouraged each other to move out to Southern California and our partners are best buds. We never stop sharing tips around mindfulness and productivity. It a pleasure to have a friend who is successfully scaling a brand that takes pride in using dead-stock fabric to create timeless and new pieces.
I had the pleasure to chat with my friend Gina, founder of Two Days Off, and learn about natural fiber textiles that are more comfortable to wear, like (linen, cotton, wool, and ethical silks) with less of an environmental impact and are recyclable once the life of the garment is over.
I hope you enjoy our interview below.
What is the story behind Two Days Off?
Gina: “I started Two Days Off in early 2018. I have been exploring slow and sustainable fashion by way of making my own clothes for years. Over time, I realized the need for more small makers to step into this industry and help transform it. I think of Two Days Off as more than just clothing, it is a statement on consumption and our environmental impact.”
Where Did Your Knowledge on Materials and Fabrics Come From?
Gina: “A lot of research, is the short answer. My background is in climate change research and solutions. I was personally surprised to learn of the particularly harsh impact clothing production has on the environment. As a teenager, I made my own clothes for a while. Upon realizing the negative impact of the fashion industry, I began making my clothes again with durability in mind. Pretty soon after dusting off my sewing machine, I realized there was a demand for the styles I was designing and a need for more sustainably-minded fashion brands.
As I grow Two Days Off, I question every decision I make and look at it from every angle I can think of. I consider how I source raw materials, how things are made, how pieces will be used and cared for, and what will happen at the end of the garments life. Once all answers are considered, I make a decision. Early on, I decided to use dead-stock fabric, which is leftover fabric from large production runs, that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Using deadstock is essentially recycling textiles that already have embodied energy and resources that were spent to make them, so I feel it is a great way to integrate sustainable practices into my business.”
With a Full-Time Job, As A One Woman Show, How Do You Manage Tasks?
Gina: “Everyday looks different for me, there is a lot of juggling but that keeps things interesting. I try to take things slow and embrace learning as I go. The constant question-asking and reflecting that is required when trying to approach an industry differently also forces a certain slowness which I embrace. The operations of the business are also intentionally slow.”
“We started as made-to-order only and are now experimenting with small-batch production. We ship using plastic-free packaging that is reusable and recyclable. When I first started looking at the packaging, I knew for a fact I didn't want to use plastic packaging. Plastic has so many issues. It's petroleum-based, it doesn't biodegrade on a decent time scale, it’s hard to recycle, and it leaches chemicals into the soil and groundwater. But in order to do plastic-free packaging, I had to slowly go through the process of testing how to ship a garment and protect it from the elements in the process. I use recycled, acid-free paper, recyclable mailers, and I seal it with soy ink stickers. All these little decisions add up and take time but are worth it in the end.”
“I intentionally only take on what I can manage and slowly grow from there. I primarily work on nights and weekends since I have my day job in the climate field. So if I rush things I will burn-out and stop loving what I am building. I manage by adding up the baby steps and being patient while taking stead action.”
- Gina Stovall
How do you prioritize tasks when things are already high priority?
Gina: “My first priority is always the people who will wear my clothes. It sounds cliché, but my customers are going to wear and live their lives in these clothes and that means a lot to me so I want them to be happy. What is the customer going to experience? I always want to provide the best experience for them.”
How did you decide on your naming system?
Gina: “I design based on my own tastes, it feels more natural to me this way. I like asking myself, What do I want to wear every day? Hoping that other people would also want to wear that. I consider every element of the design to ensure durability and timelessness. By the time I do all this, each piece has a personality of its own and I name it after someone I admire who inspired the piece a little bit. Most of the pieces are named after the incredible women in my family, but others are artists in their own right. Overall, I try to design pieces that are special and people will cherish, but will also want to wear all the time and not save for special occasions.”
The Jordan Dress
“With the Jordan dress, I designed a general silhouette and print I knew my mom would love to wear, and named it after her.”
The Mizue Sweatshirt
“The Mizue sweatshirt is named after my aunt. She’s the first woman I knew who sewed her own clothes. She used to sew for me when I was younger which is a comforting memory to me.”
The Olivia Dress
“The very first piece I created was named after my sister Olivia. She was my biggest advocate and supporter when I told her I wanted to start a business so this silhouette will always be a classic Two Days Off Piece.”
Tell us how your pieces are influenced by nature, design and architecture.
Gina: “My biggest design influences right now are brutalist architecture and the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi. There is something about the concrete work found in brutalist architecture that is inherently Wabi Sabi to me. Generally, I am inspired by nature in the types of colors I am attracted to and the fibers in the fabrics I work with. I primarily work with natural fiber textiles because they wear well over time and are breathable, can be produced in a less environmentally impactful way than synthetics, have the potential to be recycled (when unblended), and are biodegradable.”
How did you come up with the name Two Days Off?
Gina: “Two Days Off was actually named by my partner's brother, Sal. He came up with the name when we all were on vacation in Europe. I was explaining to him the emotion I was going after, something that would express the ease of the weekend. This idea came to me when I was still living in New York and I was inspired by what I wanted to wear when I took off my professional clothes for the week. I just wanted to feel relaxed and effortlessly chic. Sal listened to my nonchalant brief and then the conversation moved but maybe 15 minutes later he blurted out Two Days Off and I knew it was perfect. I didn’t even wait until we got back to New York to buy the domain. The name is a bit ironic now because it's not only about what you want to wear on your “two days off”, but also about how I am creating this business in my “two days off”. Because my design draws inspiration from my own life. I moved to LA just before launching Two Days Off and the line is definitely reflective of the laid back and creative lifestyle I have developed here in LA.”
How would you convince a young adult, not to buy a T-shirt made overseas, and instead be more mindful when purchasing clothes?
Gina: “I think if you are trying to convince someone to change the way they shop I would say start with talking about quality over quantity. But I personally think this is a bigger issue of feeling like our things define us. I believe clothes are a fun way to express oneself, but I also hope people think about whether the items they purchase add value to their lives.”
How do you create a balance between design and what the customer wants?
Gina: “I subscribe to more traditional sense of fashion that is aware of trends but not a slave to them. I am very attracted to classic patterns like plaids or stripes and I am very picky about color. Because I work with deadstock I don’t design my textiles so it is like a treasure hunt to find fabrics that are high quality and in line with my aesthetics. Then when I design, I focus on function, construction, classic silhouettes with unique and subtle design features. I want each piece to be innovative but also timeless. Hopefully they can translate over many generations and can last that long! Two Days Off doesn’t have tons of styles, what we make is limited and that is intentional.
By carefully curating each piece, I hope that each one brings great value to those who choose to own it. Additionally, part of our business model incorporates made-to-order and small batch production which was also intentional. As a customer, you know you're going to have to wait a few weeks to get a piece. Which helps you think through the purchase, and not buy on impulse. Overall, I think consumers are more aware of how purchases have impact on the environment and society as a whole. We know that we're in the middle of a climate crisis. And more people vote with their dollars by supporting brand with values that match theirs.”
Any tips you’d like to share with our readers?
Gina: “Don't shop too much! Only buy what you really need or what you really love. That makes your wardrobe much more precious. The one cognitive dissonance I struggle with as an entrepreneur is making a profit while not wanting people to buy mindlessly. I don't want people to buy my pieces just to have it hanging in their closet. I want them to buy what they love and for the pieces to serve them well!”
If you are interested in Gina’s work, check out her ‘Two Days Off’ Instagram, and share your beautiful outfits by tagging #twodaysoff.