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Meet Deb Henriksen of Equillibrium

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deb Henriksen.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Deb. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up, I was very into art and always into fashion. I took a lot of art and sewing classes in Jr. High and High School for my love of drawing and sewing. I also worked retail in high school and after college, from Talbots to Board shops. Another passion was ignited in High School after a science teacher stalked me in the hall she monitored outside the Art Room, begging me to take her Biology Class. I ended up taking college chemistry Senior year in High School and graduated college as an Environmental Health Major in the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University in 1995. During college and after graduation, I was also an avid Skateboarder and Snowboarder. I moved up to Breckenridge, completed my internship in Georgetown, and boarded every day for a few seasons before life pressures were felt to do more with my education, my life.

Eventually, I came down the mountain and found a career in Hazardous Waste Management for six years. With my heart in pollution prevention and waste minimization, I began to exit that work in 2002 in pursuit of doing more with consumer education regarding conscious consumption through Equillibrium. The birth of my brand in 2000 started out in the skateboarding Industry, as a brand like no other in that lifestyle market. As I saw most of skateboarding go overseas with cheap price points in mass production and heavy carbon footprints, Equillibrium became more artisan and boutique focussed to stay true to our ethical brand messaging.

Since the recession in 2006-2011 Equillibrium’s focus has been with direct sales on our web site, in our Denver Show Room, and at pop-ups along with speaking engagements to educate consumers on sustainable fashion and environmental activism- especially for our wolves. There is so much power that has cascading effects in the choices we make with consumerism, even the small ones… they all add up, everything is everything all the time. Education to bring awareness/ consciousness is the only engagement that will drive a change in behavior. 95% of change is from a change in behavior. We must do better when it comes to building our wardrobes. “Quality over quantity” and “less is more” are golden rules to apply in life. What is good for the planet is good for people. That is the offering Equillibrium gives in fashion from its CORE and has since day one 19 years ago.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been very challenging over the years. Being a sustainable fashion brand long before consumers even heard of it has certainly not been easy from sourcing to competition in the market place. Holding a higher price point and not going for cheaper, unsustainable textiles and practices has been hard when watching fast fashion have its rise and people racing to the register to buy in mutliples. The Fashion Industry is one of the World’s top 3 polluters. Other 2 are Fossil Fuels and Agricutlure. Sustainable Fashion is the ONLY fashion I have interest in being a part of. I have found strength and confidence in the relevant niche offering Equillibrium has. No one else can be me and bring what I bring to the table through Equillibrium. That peace of mind is what keeps me going.

A huge challenge brought to attention in recent years is dealing with infringement on my Trademarks on a mass scale. When I started, no one used the word in fashion except me. In fact, people had a hard time pronouncing it for some reason. Today I am dealing with the likes of Gucci and being corporate bullied by them because they will not stop using my intellectual property. Not what I built my brand for from nothing almost 20 years ago. The challenges are real and ever changing at a rapid pace in today’s world. Consumers need to be aware, educated, and activated to feed the brands that feed them back.

Another challenge is staying front of mind in a noisy market place online and in our home City. With growth happening in Colorado, especially Denver, at such a rapid pace and large scale, I am always working hard to stay relevant. It is nice when people get it with little explanation or introduction. However, these days that is usually not the case. I will say consumers are more engaged and educated than they used to be. I actually experience them tuning in more to the sustainability message with my brand than tuning out like the old days. It used to matter more how kool it was coming from skate culture, now that is just an underground plus. I really appreciate that.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Well, Equillibirum is a Trademarked sustainable street brand that started back in 2000. I specialize in streetwear, both ready to wear and custom pieces made in small batch. I do make dresses and even made my wedding dress and coat. I love making accessories and handbags – also made small batch. I design with zero waste protocols and incorporate life cycle analysis into the design process and materials selection. My Company operated on the Triple Bottom Line philosophy of People, Planet and Profit. Equillibrium donate 10% of direct sales toward sustainability. I am known for being a sustainable fashion designer who is a skate punk for life, professional, good at what I do, reliable, and no B.S. As a Company I am most proud of walking the walk and being a part of the solution with challenges we face in sustainable fashion and conscious consumption. It is an honor to create, curate, and operate a brand with so much to give. As our following grows with new opportunities, I am excited to see what the future has in store. Equillibrium is authentically the real deal with more potential to tap into.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up as a kid, I was a lot of who you see today. Creative, passionate, direct, loyal, determined, and a perfectionist. My interests were clothes, art/ drawing, animals, playing with my siblings and neighbors outside. In Jr. High and High School I became more interested in boys, skiing/ Colorado, Motocross, and Outlaw Country. By sophomore year in H.S., I became obsessed with moving to Colorado for College and only applied to CU Boulder and CSU in Fort Collins. Fort Collins in the early ’90s is where skateboarding became my lifestyle, my skis were traded in for a snowboard, and my first Husky stole my heart. Breckenridge soon became my second home.

I have always been encouraged to listen to and follow my heart by my parents. I am grateful for that. It has led me to know and be true to myself, which has served me well to walk tall through this life.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Westword, Robin Fulton of Robin’s Photography, Dee Mount Photography

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