We had the good fortune of connecting with Deb Henriksen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deb, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I experienced my Boss making decisions in my career regarding promotion opportunities that did not speak to my interests or passions. I found myself feeling depressed and unhappy to go to work, until I began the process to create my own business. I felt inspired and motivated with endless energy to figure out my business idea, research the steps to put it motion legally, and develop my Company’s first business plan to birth its creation. I think the reason this lifted my up is because I gained control of creating my future when it wasn’t moving toward the direction I wanted it to in my career path. In my life, I have noticed having a strong sense of where I want to go and how I want to get there. I work to be in touch with my passions in life and have made strategic career decisions to pursue them with integrity. Conducting business with sustainable and regenerative practices in the foreground to generate profits is the only model of business I care to be a part of for a living. I left Hazardous Waste Management full time in 2002 to pursue my sustainable street brand, Equillibrium, established in 2000. www.equillibrium.com
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Equillibrium is a sustainable street brand conceived in 1998, born in 2000. What sets Equillibrium apart is its authenticity and blend of lifestyle, culture, and art from the schools of sustainability, SKATE/SURF/SNOW, and influences from punk/ low brow/ traditional art styles in fashion and graphic design. Another factor that distinguishes Equillibrium from other brands is that I have sewn most my life… I am an environmental scientist who is a fashion designer. My love of clothes lead to learning how to sew at a young age and many jobs in retail. As a designer, I have a strong point of view in my street wear and high fashion aesthetic that is timeless. This also allows Equillibrium the capability to take custom made to measure orders, make repairs, do alterations, and know how to design garments with sustainable textiles and a long lifespan… Equillibrium has also been known to deliver one hell of a runway show since 2004! I have had solid credibility in the Colorado board scene (skate and snow) from living it since 1992. Equillibrium started out strictly wholesale in local skate shops in Denver Metro Area, Summit County, and Chicago. My customer base was people known from the skate scene who owned board shops, were board shops I worked at in the past, or were “new to me” shops/ boutiques that expressed an interest in carrying the line. Outside sales was challenging. Besides always being an inside, technical sales representative, I found being the brand creator and maker in addition to sales and fulfillment exhausting with little return. I eventually rolled the dice at a trade show- ASR in San Diego in 2006. I learned that was a larger scale and bigger circus than I wanted to be in, nothing sustainable about that model of product development and sell through. Then, the recession hit. Challenge after challenge hit to hang on from 2006-2011… After the recovery of our markets were well under way, I received another blow. Gucci is infringing on my Equillibrium Trademark to brand their commitment to sustainability… several letters exchanged back and forth with their NYC Lawyer on retainer without reaching an agreement. I continue to watch they make no goods with it, and so it goes… that is another story to read in itself (on Equillibrium’s blog on our website, some bath tub reading for you). I am still standing and going nowhere, defending my mark. Caveat emptor, accept no substitutes and don’t support brands that steal from artists. Support ones who support artists. They do exist. Equillibrium has supported other artists since day one. Feed the brand that feeds you. I have to say, there is never an “easy” to running your own business… it really comes down to liking the ride: the ups and the downs. Operations will always fluctuate like that over time… that’s life. Change is inevitable, and we must find ways to adapt. I strive to find the opportunity to be better. While being selective with who I work with for my brand’s integrity, I keep my eyes open and never miss an opportunity. Keep reaching, I want the world to know the authenticity and how kool this legendary lifestyle sustainable fashion brand is and how pioneering it has been in paving a way for sustainable fashion from Denver, CO. Equillibrium is now 20yrs old and will continue to be from the core, for the core.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So much has changed in Denver, and is constantly changing since the days I went out all the time. Some of my favorite spots are gone, and I do like to keep a mystery to avoid crowds. Skateboarding probably trained my on that- you never revealed a “secret spot”…. though much has changed with Google now a day. I like cooking and baking from scratch in my kitchen most -100% Organic, non-GMO goodness! But some places I like to go to are: City O’City, El NoaNoa, Tony’s Pho, BurgerFi (Vegi Burger), The Hornet, Dozens, The Cruz Room, The Brown Hotel, Adrift Tiki Bar, Black Sky Brewery….
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
So many to list: First, my Family: Mom, Dad, Siblings, and Husband!! Their life coaching, love, and encouragement has enormous impacts… Super Screen Print – Ben Owens … in 2000 we met skateboarding, became best friends through skateboarding and doing business together for Equillibrium (support local and skater first). Next year will be our 13yr-wedding anniversary. Thanks for the continued quality screen printing and all your support in this life! West Word – Patti Calhoun: After receiving the 2006 Master Mind Award from the Denver Westword, Patti was a continued presence of support and encouragement. She has done a lot for the arts scene in Denver, especially from 2005 – 2012. Fashion Group International – All the Ladies: 2007 Rising Star Award in Women’s RTW, Red Drinks industry meet up, and continued support with opportunities to provide a platform to talk about sustainable fashion. Denver Design Incubator (DDI) at Ralph’s Industrial Sewing- A continued source of support when needed. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) – Nicole Bartet and Darlene Ritz, thank you for the opportunity to teach sustainable fashion at RMCAD from the end of 2019 – present. The OG Denver Fashion Family: specifically- Brandi Shigley, Gino Velardi, Mona Lucero, Lisa Elstun, and Deedee Vicory-Corn. Decades of love, support, advice, tears, laughs, and making time for each other… no matter how long its been since we’ve gotten together, it feels like yesterday!
Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/equillibrium/
Robin Fulton of Robins Photography