In the COVID summer of 2020, Leah Fuld studied finance, marketing and strategic thinking in a fast-paced Dartmouth program.
When it ended, the Staples High School Class of 2016 member had plenty of knowledge — but no job.
She realized, though, that nearly everyone who did have a job was working from home. And they all wore comfortable clothes — sweatpants, and the like.
A business lightbulb went off.
Leah — whose degree from Trinity College was in political science, but who had always loved fashion, drawing, painting, and arts and crafts — decided to start a loungewear company.
It would specialize in tie-dyed items. They became fashionable in the 1960s, and never really went out of style. She would dye all the items by hand.
The bright colors of tie-dye appealed to Leah — especially during dark pandemic times.
Leah wanted the company to be “ethical,” in terms of manufacturing and sourcing.
She found a wholesaler who used recycled polyester. She placed a non-refundable order.
The polyester did not soak up her dye. She had 100 unusable sweatsuits.
Fortunately, Leah is resilient. She’s also familiar with online marketing. TikTok, Instagram and Facebook influencers spread the word about the company she calls LayZLoungewear.
A trickle of orders turned into big ones. Yoga and cycle studios liked her clothes. She recently had her first Madison Avenue trunk show — and a pop-up at The Porch.
It’s a lot of work — especially considering that Leah now has a full-time consulting gig. She gets up at 5 a.m. to organize orders. One day a week after work, she makes the tie-dyed products, in her Westport basement studio.
Her main demographic is women and teens, but she sells menswear too. Her line includes joggers, crew necks, hoodies, tank tops and shorts. This winter, she’ll add beanies.
Orders are customizable. A portion of the proceeds goes to GirlTrek, a national non-profit health initiative for Black women and girls.
Leah uses weekends to get ahead, and prepare social media.
It’s a lot of work. Her mother, sister and 2 women from Trinity are helping now. She hopes to hire interns from Staples or Fairfield University soon.
When COVID eases, people will return to the office. Chances are though, most will never go back full time. They’ll spend at least some time working from home.
Which means that — just like tie-dye — Leah Fuld’s loungewear will never go out of style.
(For Leah Fuld’s Instagram, go to @layzloungewear. Hat tip: Georgia Nicklin)