Dry skin. Sunburnt noses. Itchy scalps. It’s the less glamorous side of living in a state as arid as Colorado. We already know that washing your hair every day is bad for you, but choosing in-between-wash products is often a mysterious shopping process. How hard is it to find a dry shampoo that’s made of ingredients that we can understand?
One day, I was perusing the Denver Fashion Truck storefront in Sunnyside and found a little bottle of dry shampoo by Zola Oil Co. that checked my list: a chemical-free ingredient list, striking packaging, and made by a local business. I also loved that it was a powder, which soaks, rather than alcohol-based, which dries your locks even more. Leña Leyva, Zola’s founder, says she was tired of washing her hair every day but couldn’t find any dry shampoos in the market that worked nor catered to people of color’s hair types. That’s when she took it in her own hands to create her own.
With the help of her family and friends (a nurse practitioner mother with a holistic background and a geneticist cousin whose colleague just happened to be studying the microbiome of the armpit), Leña was able to successfully test-run her own batches of dry shampoo and deodorant and launched Zola Oil Co.’s online storefront in January 2017. Her mantra, “Save the Flora,” refers to keeping everyone’s unique natural microbiome healthy since it’s often disrupted by over-washing and stripping the body of its good-for-you bacteria. She says her products are made of gentle enough ingredients that work with, not remove, the flora.
Leña has rolled out more products in the past couple of years such as facial oils, beard care, and feminine deodorant, and hopes it will start more conversations about each other’s bodies and personal hygiene. Zola is definitely a beauty goal that we all can get behind.
MAM (MakeAMill) Couture Boutique has been around Denver since 2000, so it’s no surprise that they have a cult following from professional athletes to entertainers as well as local and visiting clientele. Owner Rashad Randolph, backed by his business partner, Delgie Jones, and brothers, Brandon and Kyl, started MakeAMill in his mom’s garage by printing and selling Supreme and Tall t-shirts (circa the time rappers wore long t-shirts to layer under jerseys, velour jumpsuits, and, ahem, the infamous sagging jeans trend). In 2017, Rashad opened up his first brick-and-mortar, MAM Couture Boutique, by the University of Denver where college students frequently visited the shop. However, when school wasn’t in session, business fell short and he knew that MAM Couture had to move. This past March, Rashad was in luck and landed a lease at the former RiNo Art District headquarters on Blake Street and now neighbors a marketing mogul and furniture company.
Don’t let the constant construction and pretentiousness of RiNo stall you from coming. You aren’t going to find threadbare bohemian dresses or Patagonia outerwear here. Instead, Rashad provides affordable options for male and female shoppers who are looking for an urban-meets-Colorado streetwear boutique. Rashad says he’s inspired by designers such as Ronnie Fieg (owner of Kith in New York City) and knows his customers appreciates trends, fabrics, and details you wouldn’t find anywhere else. If you find something you like, you better grab it fast — to keep items exclusive, Rashad only sells a limited selection of each item (one in each size). A few new lines in the works for MAM Couture are “Yes MAM,” curated by Rashad’s partner, Angel, and “Chief Couture,” which will focus on high-end couture clothing. If you’re searching for a boutique that genuinely captures Denver’s urban spirit, look no further than MAM Couture.
You may have spotted the upside down umbrella logo stamped on hoodies, hats, and t-shirts around the streets of Denver. Beside the clean design, neutral tones, and comfort factor, those umbrellas stand for something more. For every purchase made at clothing brand Umbrla Supply, one tree is planted through the non-profit reforestation organization, Plant-It 20/20.
The brains behind this green fashion dream, which brings another meaning to circular fashion (see our story over Colorado circular fashion here), was manifested by Adam Swartz, an Indiana University-Bloomington graduate and founder of Umbrla Supply. While he was studying art management, he was given a project to come up with a real world business plan. Adam began to make shirts to sell around campus, with the idea that every garment sold would go toward the planting of one tree.
When he graduated in May 2014, Adam moved to Boulder, Colorado and has been in the Centennial State ever since. He ran Native Roots Dispensary’s social media until this past summer, while scouting new manufacturers and suppliers for Umbrla Supply in the meantime. In October 2016, the brand branched into a new venture, Umbrla Creative, as Adam teamed up with business partner/roommate Matt Brodeur, a freelance photographer, to help him with his brand. Umbrla Creative has grown immensely in the last two years; they offer videography and marketing services out of a brick-and-mortar in LoDo, and get to travel all over the world to represent brands they love such as Boulder’s trek-gear company Matador and Ned’s Full Spectrum Hemp products out of Paonia.
When Adam’s not focusing on his business, he still designs for Umbrla Supply on the side. He describes his clothes as a reflection of his personal life: minimalist and clean, earthy heather tones combined with grey, teal, and fuschia. Adam says since he’s started, Umbrla Supply has planted 5,200 trees through Plant-It 20/20 and other local organizations. This winter, be on the lookout for Adam’s latest designed sweatshirts and hats, as well as a possible Tokyo pop-up shop and more collaborations in the Far East.
Just about every sector of business is geared toward sustainability these days. Sustainable agriculture, energy and tourism are all a given, but sustainable fashion is just beginning to disrupt the traditionally wasteful mainstream fashion industry.
Denverite Deb Henriksen, owner and founder of the rocker-chic brand Equillibrium, is poised to keep moving the fashion industry’s momentum forward. Her mission is to educate others about their own consumerism while bringing her sense of style to life with responsibly sourced textiles and materials.
Henriksen owns a storefront, and creates and sells clothes made of sustainable textiles such as organic cotton, bamboo and hemp. The idea for Equillibrium was born in 1998, when Henriksen began to dream of having her own eco-friendly fashion boutique. In 2000, Equillibrium began as a wholesale brand that was carried in skate and snowboard shops around Denver and Breckenridge. She opened her first store in 2004 (now located on West Custer Place) and hasn’t stopped since.
Denver may not be known for America’s favorite food, but as it turns out, there are myriad excellent versions around town (we should know; we ate them all). No matter how you slice it, there’s never been a better time to be a pizza lover in Colorado.