We caught up with Lauren Chan, Founder & CEO of the new clothing brand, Henning, which offers fashion-forward workwear in sizes 12 and up. She talks about embracing our differences and breaking boundaries in fashion.
Explain the very beginning of your career. Where did you start and who were your mentors?
I started my career as a plus-size model with Ford Models, though I was working towards to be a fashion editor. Essentially, my career was split into two different spaces: the plus-size fashion one and the high-fashion one. Eventually, I connected the two and began writing about the plus-size market for places like Refinery29 and Interview, and I later landed at Glamour thanks to Jane Keltner de Valle and Cindi Leive. They took a chance on me, gave me my first plus-size column in a major American magazine, and the rest is kind of history. Now, I’m the founder of my own fashion brand for women size 12 and up called Henning. Mentors are a huge part of being a founder. Some of the incredible women who have helped me along the way are Rebecca Minkoff of Rebecca Minkoff, Daniella Yacobovsky of BaubleBar, Mollie Chen of Birchbox, Ghizlan Guenez of The Modist, Leslie Voorhees Means of Anomalie, Bianca Gates of Birdies—the list goes on!
What sparked the idea for Henning and what made you determined to see it through?
Henning was born out of my personal need for clothing that I could wear to work and feel peak powerful in. Of course, it’s not just my need, it’s a need of the community of plus-size women that I have spoken to over the years. 2 in 3 American women wear over a size 14—tons of us work in environments where we need high-quality, hard-working, fashionable garments to represent how capable we are.
How important is size representation in the media and clothing brands and how is it changing?
Representation of all kinds of women in media is incredibly important. When brands choose women to advertise with, they are essentially saying that those women are what all women should aspire to be like. And when that’s only one type of woman, those of us that don’t look like her are being told that we need to change—but that’s a fallacy. We are all worthy and valuable as we are. Finally, some brands are beginning to recognize that. As a consumer, I’m really excited about ones like Glossier, Premme, and Aerie who are leading the way for change.
Describe your nightly rituals and wind down routine.
As a founder, two of my days are never the same. I could be working from home or in meetings all day or on set or at the factory—or all those! So I like to keep my nighttime routine pretty consistent. I usually watch an episode of something with my husband, take our dog Pepper out for her nighttime walk, wash my face and do my skincare routine, then hop into bed and scroll through some memes before falling asleep. I should probably cut out the Instagram part, but it puts me in a good mood before dozing off!
How important is your sleep routine in relation to your career? Do you ever notice how it directly affects you if you don’t get a good night’s sleep?
So. Damn. Important. My ideal night involves 8 or 9 hours of sleep, but I can get by on 7. That’s a lot, but if I make sure I get to bed early I can make it happen. It’s important to me to feel rested and alert throughout the day, especially when I’m in back-to-back meetings and need to be as engaged in the last one as I am in the first one. Plus, being a founder is about making good decisions quickly…and who can do that while they’re tired?
Advice you would give to your younger self / others who want to do what you are doing.
What makes you different is what makes you great. Celebrate that!