Three Ships #HerHustle Interview with Karen Lee, Co-Founder of LEZÉ the Label

Three Ships #HerHustle Interview with Karen Lee, Co-Founder of LEZÉ the Label - Three Ships

Karen (pictured on the right) is one-half of LEZÉ the Label, co-creators of comfortable living through recycled workwear that feel like PJs. After launching on Kickstarter in 2018 and raising $250K, LEZÉ is on a mission to motivate women to discover freedom while navigating their career journeys.

Founders Karen Lee & Tanya Lee from LEZE the Label

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to start LEZÉ the Label?
It started with a phone call from Tanya, who was inspired by my hobo-chic (without the chic) style. At first, I said, “Well, that’s rude — but go on.”

I was known among my friends for wearing PJs in public; but not the silky and fashionable kind. We’re talking about cotton, Superman ones. So we thought — what if we created something that was both comfortable and presentable, but made from recycled waste?

So fueled by my unhealthy desire to wear PJs in public, here we are.

What does your typical day look like?
8:30AM - wake up
9AM - 11AM - Pray + read
11AM - Lunch
12PM - Workout
1PM - 8PM - Work

My week is blocked by ‘departments’. As a small 2-women team and 3 contractors, we try to stay scrappy and take on what we can ourselves. Monday is Creative, Tuesday is Growth, Wednesday is Operations + Meetings, Thursday is Marketing and Friday is Finances + Analytics.

LEZE the Label eCommerce & Lifestyle

What was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
"Fake it till you make it".

I understand why this mantra works! I think I’m a bad actress, haha. The harder I tried to fake it, the less effective my results are. But when I believe in something wholeheartedly and put it out there, the outcome usually outweighs any front I try to put on.

What does success mean to you?
If you asked me this question a few years ago, I would’ve said — making it on the cover of a magazine or getting on 30 under 30 List. I realized as the years went on, those things (although amazing!) don’t fulfill me. I would pass those milestones and still found myself chasing the next shiny object without taking a moment to celebrate. Today, success means finding contentment and joy wherever I am, no matter what season I’m in.

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
I cry, I tear myself away from the situation and speak out loud what are facts. I’m often my biggest enemy — in reality, it’s my ego trying to protect me from the unknown. I’ve learned to name my ego ‘Kaitlyn', so I can dissociate myself from any fears that she projects on me.

Do you have any morning routines or evening rituals to help you stay balanced?
I try to reserve my mornings for 2 hours with no phone or electronics. I’m on a journey of faith, so I spend that time listening to music, reading, and praying. I find that when I skip those mornings (which is very tempting all the time!), my day feels erratic and overwhelming. In the evening, I try to turn my phone off on airplane mode 2 hours before bed, so my mind doesn’t race.

Sustainable fashion is at the heart of your brand mission. Can you share your top tips for readers who are trying to improve their sustainability efforts?
Think of it like a marathon. We always advocate that small, sustainable changes are the way to implement a long-term strategy. We love to take on the angle of ‘interviewing’ everything that you do.

For shopping, we encourage you to ‘interview’ your closet and take inventory of what you already have — you might be surprised what you have. Next, interview your purchases:

“Would I buy this if it isn’t on sale?”
“Do I have something similar?”
“How many times would I wear this?”

Lastly, try to choose fabrics that have been repurposed or have a circular economy, such as Tencel or Modal. A tip is to check out the composition of the fabric to see how sustainable it is.

LEZE the Label Co-Founder Karen Lee Lookbook

Where can we find you?
On the couch, with my hair unwashed in a questionable bun — 100%.

Come find me on Instagram and our website if you want to wear PJs to work, too!

If you liked this interview, you might like our recent interview with Christina Choi, co-founder of First Influence.