How Miriam Alden, CEO of Brunette the Label, is Creating a Brand of Support and Inclusivity
From a small showroom to a big label, Miriam Alden knows what it takes to build a brand.
Alden got her start as a sales representative in an agency, where her wholesale expertise grew and she was able to make strong connections with retailers. After deciding to start her own business and moving on fully from the agency, Alden drove around Vancouver selling pashminas out of the back of her car before establishing the brick-and-mortar location of Brunette Showroom.
Brunette the Label, a clothing brand based in Vancouver, BC evolved five years later out of one printed sweatshirt that was created to bring awareness to Brunette Showroom at a trade show. From there they made 12 sweatshirts, and then 24 and so on.
“It was not an easy road as I never received funding, so we really bootstrapped the business with not a lot of money, but a lot of passion. And here we are now!,” said Alden.
Brunette the Label is a brand for everyone, regardless of if a person gravitates towards designer labels and loves fashion or if they just wanted something comfy and cute. No matter someone’s age, size, gender, etc. Alden wants everyone to feel comfortable and confident wearing her brand.
How Brunette Showroom became Brunette the Label
A signature aspect of the brand is hair colour labels which Alden says were unintentional. While, at a trade show she had a sweatshirt printed with “Brunette is the New Black” on it as a marketing tool for Brunette Showroom. “The showroom was named as such because I figured if people didn’t remember my name, they’d remember the tall girl with the dark hair,” said Alden.
After seeing the shirt, one of their retailers told Alden that they thought they would be able to sell it in their store. So, Alden began printing small units for them, eventually evolving into Brunette the Label. Soon blondes and redheads took notice and asked where they could get their hair colours too. The brand has even expanded its line, making Jet Black and Silver. Alden now owns the trademarks to Blonde and Brunette on clothing and accessories in Canada, and hair colour labels have become a signature for Brunette the Label.
The company has continued to grow and a recent collaboration with Juicy Couture as well as walking out of her first meeting with Nordstrom are just a few of the highlights of Alden’s journey with the brand so far.
However, she expresses how it hasn’t always been the big professional moments that stand out to her when thinking about working on the brand. Instead, she shares how looking around at her team at their HQ has been special.
Some of her team members have grown from junior positions to director roles, and have been with Alden since the beginning. “Seeing one of team members do a big presentation with confidence, or visit cities they always wanted to see, or make friendships and work hard and gain confidence…. those are the most important and meaningful moments to me,” said Alden.
On the horizon for Brunette the Label, Alden is focusing on international expansion into Europe as well as growing a larger base in the US. She describes how they are aiming to begin collaborations with more brands that share the same values. The brand will also be offering more size options and hair colours for inclusivity.
Babes Supporting Babes, a movement
Another unique part of the brand Babes Supporting Babes movement. Alden developed the movement, redefining the word babe and creating a supportive environment. Alden is quick to point out that her use of the word Babe isn’t meant to be patronizing, she has a deep respect for women who have paved the way for us to be able to use words like Babe in a different way and evolve the word.
“When I first started in the fashion industry, there were not many people collaborating and working together. I have always believed that there is room for everyone to grow and succeed, and I wanted to help shift the culture of the industry to one of collaboration rather than competition, hence “Babes Supporting Babes,” said Alden.
Advice for women entering the business world
As far as advice goes for women entering the business world, Alden’s words of wisdom falls in line with the spirit of her brand. “Stay authentic and true to yourself and your beliefs. You can be successful while still being a good person. I genuinely believe things that are authentic work out, so stay on your course. It will be challenging, and probably exhausting, but ultimately exciting and I guarantee if you follow your journey it will be worth it. And don’t take things personally!”