Q+A WITH S+T AND BRUNETTE THE LABEL

Behind the Brand · Our #smashtessfam ·

We are SO excited that our collab with Brunette the Label has launched today! It has been such a fun project to work on, and SO hard to keep secret from our #smashtessfam! The S+T x Brunette collab is here to make you feel like your best self – and uplift you every day!  

The Girlfriend Romper is the ultimate blend of comfort and style. This is the perfect Romper to lounge in all winter, but still be able to rock in the spring, summer and of course, fall. Really, it’s the perfect all year ‘round Romper.  

ashley freeborn wearing brunette the label romper

We wanted to share a bit about this collection, how it started and who we’d LOVE to see in it! Ashley, Mercedes, Mama Tess and Miriam sat down to give us some insight into the collaboration and what being an Entrepreneur means to them.  We hope you love it as much as we do! 

(Reader note – ML: Mercedes, MA: Miriam)  

You are all friends – how important is it to have other female entrepreneurs to lean on? 

Ashley: So important! I love surrounding myself with other creative female business women – it’s inspiring. Miriam is an industry veteran who is open, honest, and always keen to help. I’m so grateful for her friendship… and we always laugh together!  

Mercedes: The most important!  It feels so good to be able to bounce crazy ideas and feel supported always.  I have learned so much from all these ladies and they always inspire me, keep me going and striving to do better. 

Teresa: Vitally important - we have at times, different perspectives but when you put them all together - magic happens. Female attributes - better listening, more collaboration and teamwork, no need to be the smartest person in the room, more empathy, more compassion...are all long overdue attributes in corporate leadership. 

Miriam: Well, I think it's just about the most important thing. There have been so many times Ash, Mer and I have been able to lean on each other for support. Growing a business is amazing but comes with a lot of challenges and can be a lonely place to be while you are growing. For us, we are all learning as we are going, so to have the option to pick up a phone and call my friends for support means everything. And it's incredibly meaningful to be able to have the love and support of others who are dealing with similar situations, and who genuinely care for you and how you do. It's amazing to be able to grow together #babessupportingbabes 

smash + tess team wearing brunette the label rompers

How did the Girlfriend Romper come to life?  

A: We wanted to marry our love of sweatsuits and Rompers… and voila- the Girlfriend Romper was born! It looks amazing on everyone… and feels just as comfy! 

ML: It is such a perfect blend of the two brands...comfy, soft fabric with and a chic leopard print and the love for loungewear! 

T:  Like most of our ideas do- we follow our deep loves - be it a design, a fabric, a colour, or some inspo that compelled us to make something. Combine that with the energy, spirit, sense of fun, and aesthetic of Miriam and Brunette- and voila - a winner! 

MA: Well, I think it's been a long time coming! Smash and Tess, and Brunette collaborate on many things and we love working together. This is actually our second Romper collaboration! One day Ashley and I were chatting and were just like, we need to do another collab, and six months later we are launching the Girlfriend Romper.  The Girlfriend Romper is the perfect balance between the two brands and is so cute.  

What is your fave way to style the Girlfriend Romper?  

ML: Really just on its own and if I had to leave the house, my platform white converse and a toque. 

T: With a great pair of sneaks or chunky boots. Oh - and crown it with my Brunette ‘Capricorn’ hair clip. 

mirian alden wearing brunette the label smash + tess romper

What did this collaboration mean to you?  

A: I’m so excited about this collaboration because Brunette and S+T are two Vancouver-born, female-run brands. We have similar values- first and foremost, we exist to uplift our community. I couldn’t think of a more fitting partnership! 

ML: FUN times!  Collaborating with friends brings such joy. We were basically on the same page throughout the whole process, so it was fun and very natural.   We couldn't get together in person which made it tough but working with friends that you completely trust is everything. 

T: Yet another way to demonstrate what happens when you put more than one creative mind and heart in a room and put them to the task to come up with something amazing. 

MA: Well, I think it is a very meaningful collection because it is a very authentic collaboration. As I mentioned before, we have worked together for a long time, and both brands are very aligned in our values and goals for how we want our brand to make people feel. Plus, we are friends and both big fans of each other's brands. I am also really excited to be manufacturing this collab in Vancouver, both Smash and Tess and Brunette’s hometown. And to be manufacturing this piece locally is very meaningful right now as we, Brunette the Label, try to do more domestic production. I think that is the way the industry is going, and I think a really amazing part of who Smash + Tess is, and have been leaders by doing so, and I am excited to be a part of it. 

smash + tess team fulfilling romper orders

What advice would you give someone trying to start their own business? 

A: To put one foot in front of the other. Keep moving, keep trying, keep evolving. And to remember that the best learning happens when we are thrown off balance. Discomfort = Growth. 

MA: I would say JUST DO IT. Make sure whatever you are doing is authentic to you. Slow and steady wins the race, so don’t try to keep up with what you think other people are doing. Do you and focus on yourself. But just START. 

ashley freeborn ceo in office wearing brunette the label romper

What does being a female entrepreneur mean to you?  

ML: It means everything...I never imagined I would be doing what I'm doing now. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to be surrounded by so many intelligent and fierce women.  It truly pushes me to strive for greatness and have the confidence to go after what I want. 

T: Super high risk - but the satisfaction that comes from the wins and successes are so very worth it! I love an opportunity to give aspiring young women a model of what they can be and then to cheer them on as they aim for the stars. 

What are some challenges you’ve faced as a female entrepreneur?  

A: Feeling the fear, working through it, and letting it fuel me. Being an entrepreneur is the antithesis of playing it safe. I’ve struggled with my confidence, falling prey to that insecure part of myself (that most of us have) that nags at me to know more, to do more, to be better! Instead of letting that fear consume me, I try to pivot and use it to drive me! 

I’m thankful for the women in business that have come before me, paving the way for us all to achieve greatness... My mom is one of those women! Being a female business woman in the 80s, while raising a family surely wasn’t easy – but she showed me what it meant to have grit, to have goals, and to marry those two together, all while balancing family and work. 

MA: I feel incredibly grateful to mostly have nothing but great experiences as a female entrepreneur. There have been many women that fought the fight before me so that I have the luxury to say that. And I just wanted to acknowledge that.  

But in saying that, I have had many challenges as an entrepreneur. It’s is not easy. Learning the financial side, building a team, leading, the learning curve of manufacturing, it all comes with challenges. But I believe my intuition has been my biggest guide, and I believe that is my feminine side that has helped me do that. I think a lot of my experiences reflect when started my business, and the openness to women in the business world. But we are a community and itreally special. 

miriam alden in brunette the label office wearing smash + tess romper

What does your ultimate Sunday consist of?  

MA:  Ohhh well I would say my number one goal of perfect Sunday is to have zero plans. My husband and I save Sundays for each other and have made a pact that we won’t make any other plans. The rest of my week is pretty full, so that is something I really cherish.    

I would say waking up to no alarm, sitting around the house reading, and then headed to the ocean or woods for a dog walk. Then after that head to brunch, and then just wandering around the city visiting shops and stopping at our favourite places for a drink or snack.  

So, I guess it is basically eating all day haha. I am having a thing for cheese fondue at the moment, so then maybe some wine and cheese at the end of the day. But I think the main point of the day is just that there is nowhere I have to be. If it wasn’t that, then spending Sunday in the country with my horses would be my other favourite Sunday. 

T: Slow starts, having that second large cappuccino, making my way through the bedside stack of magazines, getting a surprise visit from my granddaughter Frankie - both of us in Rompers of course.  

ashley freeborn and daughter in brunette the label smash + tess rompers

What is your go-to pump-up song? 

A: It’s not a pump-up song… but I do love “Friday, I’m in Love” by The Cure. Not sure why, but it evokes pure joy for me. 

ML: Ummm there are so many that can really get me going lol....but my shoulders always start moving to Ariana Grande - Into you. 

Who would you LOVE to see in the Girlfriend romper?  

A: All of our #smashtessfam and Brunette Babes. It’s made for you. We love you. 

ML: The answer is always JLO! 

T: Kamala Harris - she’d rock it! 

MA: Oh! That is so tough! There are so many people I would LOVE to see wearing it I had to pick one it would be Serena Williams. I love her, and everything she stands for. Plus, she is such a babe in all meanings of the wordI would also love to see Ashley Graham rocking it, and Hailey Bieber. I love all of them for different reasons and feel they all embody what the Girlfriend Romper is meant to be.  

You can shop The Girlfriend Romper here. 


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