NEVA: Women Helping Women
Just over a year ago I was on the hunt for new athletic gear. It's a staple closet category for me...stretchy pants and breathable shirts are not just amazing for workouts, their kind of my go-to uniform and outfit of choice. (Mamas, can I get an Amen?!). Only a few months before this, I had intentionally made the decision to try and purchase from primarily ethical clothing companies for any needs, wherever possible. Athletic gear proved to be more of a challenge in my initial searches, until I came across NEVA Wear.
NEVA is the kind of business that you can easily get behind, because their passion is women empowering other women. As a female-owned and operated business, teammates and leaders Sacha and Sara are reinventing the quality, craftsmanship and beauty of athletic pieces, all-the-while implanting words of encouragement in the hearts of their customers. This U.S. based company bridges the art of hand embroidery with women's clothing, each item carrying a positive and empowering message.
After discovering NEVA, I purchased a pair of their soft capri-length leggings, their zip-up jacket and super lightweight muscle tank. I've worn them on repeat ever since! Today, I had the chance to chat with Sacha and Sara about their business, their impact and the lovely pieces they design. Don't miss the Cyber Monday announcement at the bottom of the post, as well as a personalized discount for all of our readers this week!
Tell me how NEVA got started?
NEVA was born out of a need we saw to combine two worlds:
1. The beautiful artisanal embroidery that we had seen on our travels in South Asia, hand-stitched with breathtaking skill by talented women who many times, had little or no access to employment opportunities .
2. The billion dollar women's activewear industry - and for us, our daily uniforms.
There had to be a way, we thought, to combine these two worlds - to produce a line of ethically made, premium activewear that incorporated the beautiful embroidery we had came to love! And what better way to introduce these disparate worlds to each other than to offer these artisans fair and transformational wages for completing an artistic skill that is increasingly difficult to find in the West on the most popular clothing item in every Western woman's closet. And so, at NEVA Wear, we hire female artisans to hand-embroider an inspirational message on every single piece of activewear. Women helping women in a symbiotic cycle or as we like to say, a karmic loop!
What is NEVA's vision for the company? What are some goals you have for the business?
NEVA is founded on the principle of women helping and empowering women, which means that we attempt to run a very woman-friendly business. We are both moms raising young children while simultaneously running NEVA. We hope to create a sustainable future for our company, balancing sales with new product creation to keep the cycle going, keep inspiring new women to purchase ethically made clothing, and to keep employing talented women with fair and sustainable wages.
Who makes up your primary team?
Sacha, NEVA founder and owner, jill-of-all-trades and mom to Izzy (2) with another kiddo on the way, and Sara, Director of Marketing, Sales and lots of other creative endeavors, mom to Drew (11), Tommy (9), Petey (6) and Charlie (1). That's a lot of boys at our houses, folks, so we are happy to have our woman-to-woman time at NEVA HQ! We like to partner with women-owned companies when we can and we like to employ young women as interns whenever we're able to mentor and some really talented gals have joined our team over the past few years, including Shelby, our current social media intern!
Are some products still hand-embroidered in South Asia or is the work primarily in America?
Our original line of activewear was hand-embroidered in South Asia by female artisans who we were able to pay 10x their normal wages, transforming their lives and the lives of their children. While we still have a warm and open relationship with these talented artisans and still do mix styles --- the clothing is manufactured in the USA but then hand embroidered with an inspirational message in South Asia --- we've discovered that we are able to be more hands-on and have more quality control with the manufacturing process if we produce the clothing here in America. So our newest line of clothing is manufactured in Los Angeles and then hand-embroidered by American artisans living in our own hometown of Kansas City. While it is actually much more difficult to find talented embroidery artisans in the United States, we've created an amazing team of immigrants, mothers, grandmothers, and students who excel at this old-world craft and whom we can help make ends meet with fair wages for their work. But ultimately, our dream is to employ female artisans all over the world! Every artisan we have worked with is JUST amazing! Talking to these women and getting to know more about them is one of the best parts of our job.
Are the clothes themselves also designed and produced in America?
Yes, we design the clothes ourselves with the help of expert activewear design consultants and from this point forward we hope to produce all clothing in the United States. We seek out ethical factories that pay their workers fair wages, and in all possible instances, factories that are run and maintained by women.
Do you have plans to expand to other products or even new embroidery phrases this year?
Yes! We are really looking forward to creating some new styles this year. We're planning to update some of our classic bestsellers and are hoping to squeeze something totally fresh into the line up as well! We think of our line as a collection of well-made activewear basics but we're looking to mix it up a little bit this season. Our embroidery phrases are always sourced from our customers via email and social media. So if you have some phrases you'd love to see come to life on a NEVA piece, hit us up with your ideas!
What materials are most of your products made with, and can you explain the benefits of your fabric for more athletic uses?
Most of our pieces are made of a super soft, moisture wicking performance fabric. Our South Asian collection is made of a lighter-weight two-way stretch fabric that is extremely soft and breathable, resting on your skin for comfortable lower-impact workouts. Our newer American collection is made with a slightly heavier 4-way stretch fabric that keeps everything in place with a compression feel - it's soft yet firm! Our knit tees and tanks are made with the softest tri-blend blend that is breathable and easy to wash. The fit and feel is SO important to us - after all, we know what it's like to live in your activewear...
Why are ethically made pieces important to you?
There are a lot of activewear brands out there and many of them involve a cult-like following of fast fashion's latest trends. Our well-made basics are part of the slow fashion movement. Each piece is made in a factory that we have a personal relationship with. Each piece is hand-embroidered by a woman who we know by name, who we know will be directly benefitting from her relationship with our company. Each piece is inspected by us to ensure that you're getting the best product we can offer you. For us, being an ethically-made company means taking things back to basics and experiencing the clothes on your back as a skilled craft while simultaneously knowing that real women are benefitting from your purchase.
Handmade items are such an art, and the embroidered phrases add such a personal touch that connects you to the artist. As part of your story, I saw that you use the term "fitanthropic" -- can you speak to the positive impact that NEVA is having on the artists embroidering the pieces?
We coined the term "fitanthropic" -a mashup of fitness wear and philanthropic- to show that even the smallest change in your day, i.e. choosing to wear ethically-made NEVA for your workouts, can have a huge philanthropic impact on someone else's life. Our South Asian artisans have been able to buy things on their own for the first time, from groceries, to fans, to mattresses, to sewing machines so that they can continue to work and earn money, and they have been able to start saving for things like their children's education funds, breaking the cycle of poverty. In America, our artisans have been able to use their NEVA wages to make ends meet, to pay tuition and to help pay off student loans, and for many women, to work from home and earn wages while simultaneously caring for their children, an employment situation that we know personally is difficult to find!
Of your products, what have been your favorite embroidered phrases and why?
We have loved our long luxe navy "gratitude" leggings so much. They have been such a great non-black basic and gratitude is the perfect all-around mantra to practice any time of day. You can always feel gratitude, no matter the mood. And our cobalt blue "happiness is the path" tanks from our first collection always made us smile. It's a pop pf color no-brainer...happiness IS the path!
Do you offer custom designs or requests for embroidery?
We love taking suggestions for new pieces and new embroidery phrases. And we love the idea that maybe someday we might have enough artisans employed that we could make custom-phrasing a reality. Keep buying NEVA and we will try to work our way up toward custom orders!
Just for fun, what are a few things people might not know about the two of you?
Sacha used to moonlight as hand model! She has perfectly formed hands and fingernails that are sought out by companies looking to do various ad campaigns! If you ever see our products being held by a lovely set of fingers on our social media pages, that's Sacha! She gets a ton of Seinfeld references and thinks it is hilarious. Sara has worked in 3 major US museums helping mount exhibitions as a curatorial assistant. While she's always had an art and design background, NEVA provides a whole new design sensibility to the equation!
Are you itching to get your hands on an item now? We've got you covered. TODAY, November 27th -- Cyber Monday -- NEVA has two amazing deals going on. You can purchase from their Amazon Prime sale by CLICKING HERE. If you love your pieces as much as I do, please leave a review on Amazon to let them know!
NEVA is also matching their Cyber Monday promotion on their website at www.nevawear.com -- PLUS all NEVA orders placed through this site will receive a recyclable tote bag (just like the one featured in this post!).
We have an Amazon Prime Cyber Monday sale going through midnight on Monday, 11/27. Here's the bitly: We are trying to build reviews, so if folks love their neva wear, we'd LOVE an amazon review!
We will match prices on www.nevawear.com for Cyber Monday as well. All neva orders ship in a recylable tote bag. (shown in one of the pictures!)
ALSO from November 28th through December 31st, all of our readers can get 15% of their purchases by using the promo code: elleanorandindigo (yay!!).
We hope you love this company as much as we do!