Ruby Sulter was born in San Francisco, California. She is now the founder of B.D.F.O, a body-positive fashion brand. She started her company because she sympathizes with those who struggle to find clothing that fits their specific body types. When she was about eight or ten years old, she could fit into women's sizing. Clothing never fit the “right” way; she just wanted clothes to fit right, and make her feel good! So, she decided to start her own clothing brand, to help solve clothing problems across the board and to create a style that just works for everybody.
Question 1: What is the story behind the name of your brand?
B.D.F.O. stands for Bold, Determined, Fierce, and Outstanding. When I was about twelve or so, I was trying to develop the idea and brand of B.D.F.O., but I struggled to find the perfect name. My mom came home one day and just said “B.D.F.O! That’s it!”, so I went ahead and picked adjectives that went with the B, D, F, and O; words that were meant to empower and make people feel good.
Question 2: What were the first steps you took in order to get started with your lifestyle brand?
Creating the logo/design came first, then it was ordering my first run of shirts, building my website, and having a photoshoot.
Question 3: Where do you find inspiration for clothing designs? Where can you find clothing to design? How do you ensure that the clothing is the best quality?
Inspiration always comes in interesting waves. The most direct way is scrolling through Pinterest, observing printmakers, and looking at brands that I aspire to be. But I can also get that spark of inspiration from going out, talking with my friends, or riding the bus. I didn’t realize how important clothing quality was for my brand until I saw how every single style/garment I chose was of the highest quality material. Quality is a really big part of B.D.F.O., and I mean a REALLY big part. To ensure the best quality, I start by just looking at the fabric makeup (certain fabrics tend to feel bad on the skin, stick to body in uncomfortable ways, shirk, feel crusty, etc). Then, I check out what other types of brands are selling a similar garment or make of shirt, and it’s pretty simple from there. If the brand is well-known and the product is well-liked, I know that the product must be of decent quality.
Then, of course, feeling and wearing the product before selling is extremely important (aka. If it’s not amazing to me, it’s not going to be amazing to anyone else).
Question 4: How do you make clothes? Is it done at home or are you partnering up with another business to do the print designs for you?
I was originally going to do all the printing myself, but instead, I have another local business printing for me. To be honest, I’m very grateful that I’m not printing since I am doing everything else for B.D.F.O. and attending a rigorous school. I would have little time to do the actual printing.
Question 5: As an eco-friendly brand, what advice do you have for fashion businesses so that they can become more sustainable?
That’s a great question. I think the best way to become sustainable as a small brand is to just start off with an eco-conscious mindset, “is this benefiting the environment?,” am I hurting the environment?” etc. Then, of course, switching to sustainable fabrics even though they are more expensive. They do exist, it’s just the decision of whether to use them or not. For a larger fashion business, I think they should simply take a step and go ahead and remove plastic packaging from their shipping and bagging processes. For small businesses, using plastic packaging helps reduce expenses, but for larger companies, switching to recycled bags, paper packaging, etc isn't as much of a financial burden. In the end, I think just learning how to invest some expenses into eco-conscious options will change the way the company impacts the Earth, in a really good way.
Question 6: What is the most challenging part of running a business? How have you been able to overcome these obstacles?
One of the biggest obstacles is sales. Getting my brand out there has been a struggle, especially because I am so busy. But also the fact that I don’t have to sell out a run of shirts to restock is also really hard for me to wrap my head around, like really hard. I don’t like inventory, at least not THAT much inventory. But I am working on shifting my mindset to “more inventory = more income” eventually.
Another obstacle is adults do not understand me. Or adults tell me that it isn’t possible to do what I am doing because I am too young. But whenever things like that happen, it only drives me to prove them wrong.
Question 7: Do you work with a team or do you do everything (photography, shipping, website, and designing) by yourself?
I do absolutely everything by myself (haha). I do all of my photography, although sometimes I get a friend to help out. I ship and package everything. I made my website and I design just about everything as well. I manage all the socials, make sales, and about anything else you can think of!
Question 8: What other interests do you have outside of running your business? How do you balance a school, a social life, extracurriculars while operating B.D.F.O?
I do a lot, I am a fencer, boxer, mountain biker, dancer, churchgoer, model, nature lover, and the list goes on (haha).
To be honest, I don’t really have “balance,” I am always busy, tired, and extremely stressed. I wake up around 5:30, and I get home at about 5:30. Then I might have to go out for three more hours to work out and come home to four hours of homework and three B.D.F.O. orders.
It’s crazy, but I’m making it work.
Question 9: What are your personal career goals?
I want B.D.F.O. to be my career, and I’m working hard to figure out how I can make that happen.
Question 10: What is your favorite dessert?
I’ll go with green tea ice cream :)
Check out B.D.F.O and Ruby's Social Media!