As a child, she was brave. She had a million aspirations and goals as she grew up, but at the root of them all, she knew she wanted to be seen. Her enduring spirit got stronger as life progressed, prompting her to go on her own entrepreneurial career, and she launched Cucumber Clothing, a fashion business with a perfect balance of technology. She aspired, sought, and succeeded. Nancy Zeffman is the CEO and Co-Founder of Cucumber Clothing. Cucumber Clothing has grown from humble beginnings to become a well-known name in the fashion business, and it continues to expand with new and technology ideas. Nancy Zeffman, who is an inspiration to any young woman who believes in her aspirations and is enthusiastic about attaining them, has graciously agreed to share a few ideas with us.
What were your childhood dreams and aspirations? How did you end up founding Cucumber Clothing?
I was the third of four children in a noisy household as a child. It was difficult to be heard, which I believe contributed to a desire to be noticed in the first place. I’ve always enjoyed to act and pretend since I was a little girl, and I’ve always wanted to be an actress. At school, I was involved in a lot of amateur dramatics, both writing and performing, and I loved it. Life followed a different road for me, but I believe that standing there and acting on stage since I was a child has made me resistant to change. I enjoy presenting and speaking in front of an audience, and Cucumber is doing it more frequently.
Cucumber grew spontaneously from the ground up. Eileen, my co-founder, and I both like working out. We also enjoy wearing our gym gear and have found that we don’t change out of them very often because the materials used are so comfortable, crease-free, and easy to care for, keeping us cool and dry as we go about our busy lives, whether trail running, hot yoga, basketball, or simply walking the dog or popping to the local shops.
We had a lightbulb moment when we realised there had to be a way to replicate this, but with a material that looked as good as it felt. We wanted to recreate the anti-crush, cooling, remain fresh, and comfy properties of anti-crush clothing in more attractive, everyday luxury pieces that we would reach for again and again.
We are both mothers who have seen our children leave the nest; we had some spare time and felt Cucumber would be a good fit for us. In retrospect, we were quite naive! Eileen gave up her accessories business, I gave up my other professional responsibilities, and we’ve been working nonstop on Cucumber, which consumes all of our waking hours. It’s been a wild ride of shifting
priorities, meeting some amazing people, and a steep learning curve, but primarily it’s been a lot of hard work and joy.
What were your earliest obstacles and difficulties, and how did you conquer them?
We’ve learned to look at things differently and discover new ways to achieve our goals as a small start-up on a shoestring budget. We stand for unconventionality in all we do, from how we get things done to what we do. We consider ourselves as instructors, demonstrating to ladies that technical materials that keep you cool and fresh can be both ecological and fashionable. Many women believe that, by their very nature, human-made textiles cannot be sustainable or feel beautiful. We’ve here to debunk that misconception! We’re not the scratchy nylons of the 1970s; instead, we’re lovely, deliciously smooth textiles with all the current conveniences.
What service do you provide to the customers?
Cucumber Clothing combines fashion and technologies to make season less sleepwear and leisurewear that keeps women looking and sounding cool throughout the year. We are the essence of fashion because we are sustainable, breathable, and just lovely to wear.
We believe that a Cucumber piece will make its way into every woman’s wardrobe, whether it’s for Pilates, as a cover-up after the gym, crowded into a weekend travel bag, as a base layer under a smart suit to keep the perfect temperature next to the skin, something to wear wrapped up on the sofa with slippers while reading or watching Netflix, or as a night robe. Cucumber should be the one she returns to again and time again as one of her personal favourites.
What we do is centred on sustainability and slow fashion. Our textiles last up to 6 times longer than cotton, resulting in more wear and less waste; they don’t retain sweat or odours, so they don’t need to be washed as frequently. Because of their anti-crush technology, they require little ironing and can be hung to dry, reducing energy use.
There are a variety of approaches to assist our world. We are not claiming to be flawless, but we are confident that what we are doing is the best currently available. We have a highly transparent supply chain, so we know what we’re saying and doing. Cucumber makes limited runs in order to save fabric waste and avoid having dead stock fabric.
What role does technology play in your day-to-day operations?
Aside from our fabric technology, which is the foundation of our business, technology is also important. We’re mostly an e-commerce company (we are also stocked in some luxury spas and regularly hold informal pop-ups). I honestly believe we would not have been able to launch without technology. Our web platform enables us to dispatch orders all over the world while also keeping in touch with our increasing Cucumber email list.
We also publish on social media on a daily basis and connect with a large number of clients on these channels. Without technology, I don’t think any fashion brand could thrive today.
How would you characterize the economic revenue over the last several years? (Statistical data can also be used to explain this.)
Cucumber debuted in September 2017 with a limited range of only six nightwear pieces in two hues. We were completely blown away by the positive response to our products and saw right away that there was a real need in the market for high-performance, luxurious textiles that work with your body. As a result, we’ve evolved into a fabric-driven fashion brand that can be worn all day, not only at night. We offer answers for women’s hectic lives, whether they are at home, at work, or travelling around the world.
Is the apparel industry a cutthroat business? What is Cucumber Clothing’s strategy for dealing with this competition?
With so many companies to select from and new styles being produced on a regular basis, the apparel industry is a fiercely competitive field. We set ourselves apart because we don’t follow trends; instead, we offer seasonless solutions-based fashion that blends in with the rest of a woman’s wardrobe. All of our collections, designed by women, for women, are closely examined, whether it’s our marginally longer back shorts for a more flattering fit; our wide sewn-in waistbands that don’t dig and turn; the pleat down the front of our camisole dress and camisole top for a more flattering fit over the tummy area; or the big cuffs on our harem pants so that they’re just the right length.
Tell us about the vision of your company.
We wanted to be conscious of the world around us from the beginning. We recognise that everything we produce has a carbon footprint, but we are working to minimise ours while supporting the local economy. We aren’t flawless, but with each new collection, we improve a little more — no small feat for a modest start-up fashion label.
We attempt to make compassion our work mantra. Everything we’ve done with Cucumber has been made possible by the generosity of others, and our interest in sustainability and circularity
derives from a desire to leave the world in a better state. And, of course, we want to reach as many people as possible!
Would you please tell us about your journey?
Working at Saatchi & Saatchi gave me an advertising background. Eileen has a background in fashion, having assisted in the launch of Nicole Fahri menswear, so we think we’re a good match! I took a career sabbatical to raise my three children and two dogs, and I was active in a number of humanitarian projects right before we founded Cucumber.
Tell us about your duties and tasks as the Co-Founder of Cucumber Clothing. How you believe about them?
Our success has been largely due to our ability to stay organised. Co-founders are fantastic to have — someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to halt rash decisions (that would be me), and someone to stop spending too much time considering ideas when a deadline is approaching (Eileen). Characters and skills that complement one other have served us well.
It’s difficult because time and money are often limits, but I constantly recall what a design expert once told us: no matter what happens, we’ve established a label, which is no minor feat. It motivates me and reminds me to be proud of what we have accomplished so far, especially through difficult times.
What methods do you use to strike a balance between your personal and work lives? Tell us about yourself in one word and what motivates you.
There is no such thing as a regular day, which is part of what I enjoy about what I do. But, no matter how hectic Cucumber is, I try to walk my dog for at least an hour every morning. Even if I’m shouting it through clenched teeth in a cold hailstorm, I adore this hour of my day.
I am a firm believer in taking time for self-care, which can be difficult to do when starting a business. Cucumber’s long-term viability will be jeopardised if either Eileen or I drop out. You must learn to prioritise your own needs in order for the business to be supported by two psychologically and physically strong and happy co-founders.
‘Determined’ is the word that comes to me when I think of myself. If I set my mind to something, I will give it everything I have. My three children, in particular, have been a source of inspiration for me recently. They’re all pursuing occupations they enjoy and working hard to attain their goals. I’m confident that if they can achieve it, so can I. It’s never too late to start!
What motivates you and your employees?
There are no full-time employees on our team. Eileen and I do everything ourselves, with the support of certain consultants along the route to assist us with technical issues where we lack expertise.
What advice do you have for ambitious businesswomen?
It takes dedication, perseverance, and, of course, a brilliant idea. If you believe you possess these qualities, go for it!
What does the future hold for Cucumber Clothing on a worldwide scale (in terms of sales)? How do you intend to expand your company?
So far, we’ve concentrated our efforts in the United Kingdom. We have a large number of consumers all over the world, mostly in the United States, despite the lack of any direct marketing. This is an area of our company where we intend to expand. We’ve also received coverage in the international press in France and Brazil, and we intend to expand our reach to every corner of the globe. Cucumber Clothing may have begun small, but they are well on their road to success, with a clear plan and a fiery desire to change the fashion business in their own unique way.
Details of the company
Year of Founding: 2016
Funding Information: Privately held
Founding Member: Eileen Willett
Office Locations: Cms Cannon Pl, London, Greater London
Company Strength: 5 Employees
Source & reference : Cucumber Clothing
Story by: Swiftnlift Business Magazine