This story contains affiliate links
Formerly known as Hipsters for Sisters, HFS Collective was founded in 2012 by mother-daughter team Debra and Rachel Denniston in California. The Los Angeles-based company’s range of vegan bags is made locally and ethically, sourcing only the most innovative, earth-friendly materials on the market – without ever sacrificing style. Which isn’t always a given when you’re talking about the brand’s core item – the belt bag, or as it’s become more affectionately known, the fanny pack. By succeeding not only in making vegan fashion hot, but also in making fanny packs cool, HFS firmly planted themselves on the style radar. We had a chat with Rachel to find out more about the evolution of her brand and what makes HFS a must-have choice for anyone who’s curious about ethical style.
Walk us through how HFS collective got where it is today – how did you get started?
Debra first became addicted to fanny packs many years ago when my sister, Kate, and I were in diapers. She used to wear one to keep her keys, cash and credit cards with her as she ran around the park chasing after us, free to leave the big diaper bag unattended. To be honest, it was not the best-looking fanny pack, and when she continued to wear it even after we graduated from diapers and went on to grade school, it became slightly embarrassing (I was a sweet child, I swear). Eventually, she got the hint to leave it at home when she came to get us from school and ultimately stopped wearing it altogether. But when Kate and I went away to college, Debra decided she loved the freedom that fanny packs offered so much that she wanted to redesign the fanny pack in a more stylish way. I wasn’t really sure what to expect at first, but when I saw her first few samples, I thought that she might actually be onto something. I’d always been into fashion and design– even when I was younger, I’d sew bags made from vintage sweatshirts and denim and sell them to my friends, so when I saw the potential here, I decided to jump in.
The sustainability aspect originated from the fact that we were both vegetarians at the time we started our brand and so we were immediately conscious of what materials we used and their impact on animals. This awareness grew organically as we became more conscious of the materials’ impact on the planet, in addition to animals, and from there we really decided we only wanted to use renewable, deadstock, recycled, and low impact fabrics, so we could have the lightest impact on the earth possible.
Can you speak about what being a vegan means to you, and how it influences how you run your business?
To me, it means being more mindful of what you buy, wear, eat and just consume in general. For us, making a responsible product is not just about being compassionate to animals, but to people too. For that reason, we ensure all of our craftsmen and women are paid a fair living wage and work in clean and safe working conditions in Los Angeles.
What do you do when things don’t go as they should? What guides you back to your center when life happens?
This is a really good question and so so important because life definitely happens and things very often don’t go as you expect them to (even though no one talks about it). I like to think that if something doesn’t go as you had hoped, it’s because there is a bigger, better plan for you and something even better waiting ahead. As an introvert, alone time is absolutely key for me. It’s how I re-center myself and get ready to charge ahead.
What does the future for HFS Collective look like, what are you most excited about?
It’s a surprise! I’m most excited about our work and mission of liberating women from their baggage. I think there are a lot of brands out there now making belt bags, but what distinguishes us from them is really why we started our company with the mission that less is more – that there’s joy in liberation and freedom from having to carry all the things you don’t really need. I think we are a brand with real, grassroots feminist undertones and I’m really excited to see where that takes us and how we can expand our work with organizations that help empower women.
What’s your life motto?
All is in divine order.
What do you need to work successfully each day?
I need to take time out for myself first thing in the morning, which mostly includes spending half an hour journaling or in meditation, and then walking in nature with my rescue pup, Freddy. Also, a warming cup of Four Sigmatic reishi mushroom coffee helps.
What does your desk or workspace look like?
Having a clean, clear workplace is necessary for my focus. I keep my collection of crystals, a nice healthy rubber plant, and my new Mystic Mama lunar calendar on my desk (a gift from my sister, Kate).
Quickfire questions, the first response that comes to your mind:
Favorite thing to eat: Coconut bacon.
If you were an animal you would be: My puppy Freddy, because he lives a pretty pampered life.
Favorite piece of clothing in your closet: My mid crop flare jeans from Reformation.
Favorite design piece from HFS Collective: Pinatex Classic Belt Bag
Favorite word: Ephemeral.
Coffee or tea: BOTH! Coffee in the morning, herbal tea at night.
Night owl or early bird: I would say early bird, but really I just like my sleep 🙂
Bonus question, and most definitely the most important and pressing, where do you get your protein from? LOL
For more vegan fashion, follow Vilda on Instagram
All photos courtesy of HFS Collective