Originally from a small town just outside Toronto, Canada, called Niagara-on-the-lake, Lacia Sherlock Olofsson always had a keen interest in fashion and attended Sheridan College, an art and fashion design school in Ontario, to pursue her dream career. “Being raised by my mom in a single parent family meant that I had to start to work at a young age and quickly became very independent,” says Lacia. “It also gave me an appreciation for what women go through and the importance of helping those less fortunate and supporting small businesses managed by women.
Lacia was fortunate to work for a number of vertically integrated companies and fashion brands from 1985-2000, enabling her to get involved in the design, production and purchase processes of new collections, while at the same time fueling her desire to one day start a brand and make her own mark.
“Learning the basics of how to cut, stich, weave, work with leather garments and print on fabrics is all very useful in the processes I’m now employing in Shared Philosophy,” continues Lacia. “However, the true inspiration that I’m now translating into my own collection is from traveling the world and incorporating the things I see, people I meet, friends I make, architecture that I like and food that I taste. Owning multiple properties has also given me the opportunity to truly experience working with different materials, colors, layouts, building prerequisites and climate challenges in designing and renovating houses - another great passion of mine!”
Resident in Bangkok since 2010, Lacia arrived here after a seven-year stint in Russia and lots of travelling the globe. Her assignments abroad have come through her employer, Swedish home furnishing giant IKEA, a company she joined back in Canada in 2000.
A couple of years later she moved to Moscow with her Swedish husband, also a regional director for IKEA, and the family has been expatriates ever since. Both of their teenage sons are students at the Bangkok Patana School and together they enjoy the international lives and the opportunities that comes with having a diverse upbringing, multilingual opportunities, as well as friends and family in different corners of the world.
The inspiration came after a conversation with my sister in law in October 2018. She was starting her online business and I started reflecting on what I was waiting for and when would be the right time to start my own fashion label. Thinking that if I’m going to take this step it must be while I am in Thailand as I knew it would take time if I was going to take the sustainable approach and develop the local trade and build up the competence that was going to secure international quality - this was going to take time.
How do you combine a full time job at IKEA, while creating your own fashion collection, taking care of the children and being a dedicated wife?
I am very lucky to have a big support network in Bangkok, including my mother-in-law, two brother-in-laws and their families. They support me and my family, being around when I’m travelling and look after things while I’m away.
I could not handle my side-line hobby, a fashion brand called Shared Philosophy, without fulltime and part-time staff. I am really lucky to have created something out of my hobby that I can share with friends, family and fans of Shared Philosophy.
What is the back story to Shared Philosophy?
My collection is made by women for women. Shared Philosophy comes from women who are having and sharing the same ideology. The garments are produced by family workshops managed by Thai women. These dressmakers are part of my philosophy; they share my love for sustainability and quality.
With my collection, I support the women who have established a base in the Thai society of pattern making and tailoring. When you purchase a piece of Shared
Philosophy, you are supporting women who are less fortunate than yourself. My customers are confident, know their bodies, they love wearing garments made of natural fabrics that are long lasting and fits well.
You have only women in your company. What’s their background?
Let’s start with my production manager Nud, who is Thai and has worked for me for nine years. She is fluent in Thai and English. She has worked and grown in our family and as the children are now 15 and 13 and want independence they need both Nud and I less. She has a passion for people and clothes. Her development into production manager was part of the decision to start Shared Philosophy last October as I knew she could prioritize leading the production with the tailors in the local community.
My social media and web manager and I connected on Linked in. She is Polish and her background is marketing .She arrived in Thailand last year and has started Shared Philosophy together with me right from the start of creating
the brand values and story. She is younger, a millennial who brings another insight to marketing and is super gifted
when it comes to branding and social media.
The models on the website are real women from different countries and backgrounds and are my friends who have agreed to support the vision of Shared Philosophy. I’m so grateful that they donate their precious time to model for Shared Philosophy and don’t mind that I shared their beautiful bodies and fantastic faces to the world.
I have a photographer and makeup artist that are part of the Shared Philosophy. They have started the brand with me from day. Both are smart young Thai entrepreneur women running their own businesses
Where do you source your fabrics?
I try to combine family vacations with my search for the ultimate fabrics. I research what a country can offer me
before we go. As an example, we went to Nepal last year for a trekking trip and there they are still producing raw silk, which is quite rare nowadays. I found a family who has been looming raw silk for decades, I absolutely fell in love with the texture and feel of their raw silk and purchased over 100 meters to work into my designs.
Right now I’m investigating India, looking for its loosely woven cotton and silk and where the production is being done by women. Japanese fabrics also have an incredible quality and the Koreans are great for their design. Thailand also offers a lot with its linen and cotton knits. The challenge is not to find fabrics in Asia, but it needs to fit into my overall Shared Philosophy ideology.
Who is your main target market?
I believe I can style all women, give them confidence and make them feel better about themselves. My garments are perfect for a busy businesswoman who has to travel a lot, making it easy to pack, fold and combine pieces effortlessly.
But also for a woman that is just looking for an amazing piece to wear for a special occasion.