Bianca Branaman, owner/designer of Sugar Candy Mountain

In the interview below, we get to talk to Bianca about her background and how she came to start one of our favorite brands in the shop — Sugar Candy Mountain.

 

What was it like when you first began Sugar Candy Mountain?

Well, to be honest I had been working in an entirely different field, as a counselor for people suffering from PTSD and trauma. After a while, I needed a creative outlet that was therapeutic for myself!

In the beginning, it was an outlet to process and let go of all that I was taking on as a counselor. Creativity and art have always been part of who I am — I come from an arts-oriented background, (to say the least: I started painting with my Dad, who is an artist, in his studio, when I was five), and it’s just such a part of who I am. You could say that it started as a hobby and over the last three years has grown into a business. The reward and challenge after that is to always remember why I started in the first place: for an outlet, yes, but also for art and for fun.

I knew that when I started that I needed to produce the line in alignment with my ethics and values: I was raised to believe that human beings and nature are one and that they, (people and the environment), are more important things to respect than money or fame. Now that I have reconciled and combined all of these things, my work has become a way of life that I can’t imagine living without.

Sugar Candy Mountain Julia Coat and Emma Dress

When you go to design a piece, what’s your process like? And where do you find inspiration?

I don’t read fashion magazines. My inspiration comes from the streets, my community, and what I want for myself — what I want to wear and can’t find anywhere else. Form and function are hugely important, so the designs need to suit my lifestyle as well as the lifestyles of my community. The days of silk and satin are over for me! But then again, I make sure to invite sweats and sequins alike into my world. I say: Come as you are!

I do find a lot of inspiration through vintage. I find a vintage piece that I like and modernize it through the process of sketching. Next, I’ll make a first pattern, make adjustments on the fit, and sometimes it will be three or four samples before I have a final pattern. I make changes as I go, it’s a lot like a puzzle that involves a lot of experimentation — you’re putting these geometric shapes together until they look balanced. There is so much that I put into it that goes beyond ‘fast fashion’ — like French seams and natural fabrics for example. My goal is always to create things that are designed but are still casual.

Why did you decide to become a clothing designer?

I’ve always loved clothing. It makes me feel good, and when I feel good, I’m confident. In the world of fast fashion, I want to make things that I will have for a long time, while helping other women feel beautiful. I want to give back to my community and not hurt the environment. Essentially, I want to create timeless, beautiful clothing that aligns with my core values of ecology and human rights. Knowing that someone feels beautiful in something I made that isn’t hurting the environment is the greatest compliment.

Sugar Candy Mountain really started because I saw a gap in the market. When I’d shop I’d see things that were either over-designed or under-designed. I wanted something that could be worn from the beach to dinner but also has some class and elegance. I want a loose sack that’s designed! (Laughs) I design for women and try to make my pieces more form-fitted in the areas that are flattering to women.

Sugar Candy Mountain Colette Dress

Our customers love your fabrics — What makes them so amazing?

They’re all naturally-derived, and after the garments are sewn, everything is laundered in organic soap and then dried. Linen is a natural fiber that softens over time and is more durable than cotton. It’s really hard to find environmentally-friendly fabrics — the research takes a lot of time and never ends!

I’m really excited about introducing cotton at a new, lower price point, and maybe some washed silk for Spring 2018, both of which will also be laundered, though I know I said ‘the days of silk and satin are over’! When looking at fabric, I’m particularly drawn to the hand and drape — linen and silk are both known for their drape. In the near future and as the company grows, I’d really like to do some one-of-a-kind dead stock collaborations with my favorite stores, like Stripe!

Lastly, what advice do you have for people who are considering starting their own business?

Just start with where you are with what you have — I started with my own money. Be patient. Don’t give up hope if problems arise and don’t take ‘No’ for an answer — just find the people who will say yes. There’s always room for good!

 

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Come by the shop to check out our selection of Sugar Candy Mountain and make sure to follow their Instagram.