When I think in terms of Festival Fashion, one brand comes to mind before the rest: Warrior Within Designs. Years of searching brought me to Electric Forest where I found the most beautiful garment I had ever laid eyes on, that felt more like a second skin than a festival outfit. Simple, elegant, easy to accessorize, but above all, COMFORTABLE. I’d been a victim of “fast fashion,” and all the sequins and rhinestones I used to decorate myself with felt like a prison. From the moment I stepped into “onesie love” I knew I could never look back. The free flow of movement was intoxicating and it was the intervention I needed.
Enter Jen Patten, a name that should be at the top of powerhouse female role models in the industry. The CEO and creator of Warrior Within Designs carries an enormously positive attitude every step of the way. It’s no secret she wants everyone to feel like just as much of a warrior as she does.
I had the immense pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Jen Jen during quarantine. It’s well known that I have a passion for interviewing strong female role models, but I had never met one that was so down to earth and purposeful in every word. Call it a meeting of the minds, call it fate, but separated by miles and solitude from the COVID-19 crisis made this interview all the more special. I felt a new vibration within myself as a warrior and walked away with a new friend. Check out the audio above, or read the transcription below for a unique perspective on not just female empowerment through fashion, but philanthropy, philosophy, and sustainability. We all have a Warrior Within us.
This is Jennifer for Fresh Music Freaks and I’m talking to the owner and creator behind my favorite festival fashion brand, Warrior Within Designs, Jen Jen. How are you doing today Jen Jen?
Hi Jen, I’m doing awesome. Thank you so much. I’m glad to be here.
You started with one onesie and a dream. Did you ever think that Warrior Within would become one of the most sought after brands in the festival fashion industry?
Oh gosh, girl, I really appreciate that reflection back to us. When this all came to be, the name Warrior Within came in a dream… when I was asleep, I woke up and I had this dream that was in my heart. I didn’t actually share the name with anyone for probably four to five months, because I was going through a really hard time in my life and I certainly didn’t feel like a warrior… but I knew a seed was planted that was going to change my life. I didn’t know what form it would take, but it was there. I think building something great is just doing it one piece at a time, and I didn’t know what it would come out to be or what it would look like 11 years later, but I think it’s beautiful and wonderful and I’m so thankful for it and kind of every step of the way has been a journey of gratitude and trust.
I just love what it has become, and she’s a life force. She’s a warrior within her own being. I am now a co-collaborator because there are certainly a lot of wonderful people who have come and graced her with their magic, and their blessings, and their artistic visions and abilities, and that’s what makes her what she is now. So I just can’t tell you how thankful I am and just such kind words for you to say that we’re so sought after. I really appreciate that.
Well, I’ve got to say, you really have been a powerhouse in the festival fashion industry. You’ve been a trendsetter. I’ll never forget the first onesie that I ordered from you guys. By the way, your customer service team is fantastic with assisting with any questions, or comments, or anything that you might have. When I opened that package and I put it on, it just felt like a second skin. I really felt your “onesie love” that you guys really hold true… the fabric and materials are always so comfortable. I now own more than I could probably say to you on how many Warrior Within Designs pieces that I have… it’s probably half of my festival closet. So how do you couple the comfort and fashion that you have within each piece that seems to be very important to you and to your brand?
It’s really important to me that things are comfortable… fashion first, but function is a very close second to that because if you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to be able to frolic, and dance, and move, and be out there for hours at a time. And I just don’t like constructive fashion. So if you can find something that’s beautiful to wear, but also versatile, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head and you’re going to just have something that can translate into a timeless piece. And so, the shape, the design, the functionality… you know, sometimes people say, “Oh gosh, a onesie is so hard to go to the bathroom in.” It’s like, well not ours! This is the trick to get in and out of it really quickly so you can spend your time on the dance floor, or being with friends… not wasting it getting in and out of your outfit.
So the shape and functionality is really important, but also the fabrics and the quality of the fabrics is incredibly important to us. Over these 11 years, we’ve definitely figured out our best fabric sources. We actually make our own bamboo cotton spandex now with a mill in LA, so that’s like a signature blend and one of our top-selling fabrics. All of our printed stuff that we do, you know, our original prints, but then also the Android Jones collection, that’s the highest quality fabric that we could find. We want things to last for a really long time. Again, be breathable, functional, look great and hopefully, be in our closet for many, many moons to come
They are timeless! You have this a great way of coupling the timeless aspect with being really on-trend with fashion. So what do you hope every woman who wears a Warrior Within Designs piece is going to feel internally, and then be able to beam out externally, while they wear it?
Without sounding cliche or cheesy, I want people to feel like they’re their best selves. I think that being comfortable is part of that, and because I think comfort breeds happiness and happiness is truly the most beautiful thing. So to have a garment that is complementary to who you already are, or what your shape is, and what your authenticness is… it’s really just a second skin to you. So I feel like the onesie’s the lucky one that gets to go on that journey with a person. I think having a one garment, one-piece, one element to be dressed with… you can actually really just focus on other parts of your life as well, because it’s a base layer. I hope that men and women, cause you know, there are men who wear onesies too, and our clothes… that they really feel like the warrior that they are, that Warrior Within. Like that piece of you that is your guiding force. The fire. We hope to just be an accessory to that. We’re an accessory to you and not the other way around.
See, that’s just so awesome. Your Snip Tease pieces are some of my true favorites, and each one is hand-designed and snipped. So how long does the process for a Snip Tease take for a onesie? From the start to the finish of that product?
Conscious collaboration is my favorite! I love relationships. I love longterm relationships. Snip Tease, if you’ve ever met her, I mean, I hope everyone in the world gets to! She is like the most interesting chick on the planet, and she’s so rad. She’s very musically talented. She can freestyle like nobody else with her voice, but also with her snipping. So, this relationship has been I think five years in the making, and it’s hard to answer your question exactly in terms of time because it really depends on the complexity of the snips and the fabric. But you know, she has perfected her craft. I consider her a master in her craft. She can transform a onesie… at Electric Forest she comes with us, and she does appointments in the booth, and she could transform a full body onesie into a wearable, one of a kind piece of art in like 40 minutes… 30 to 40 minutes and I just can’t even believe it!
We oftentimes do like a time-lapse video so we can see what it started with and then what it became. And so I would say those are some of her like longer snips, when she does it on the body, maybe like up to an hour I would say of her expert snipping time. When she does a production, everything is hand snipped and hand done. But those are a little bit quicker simply because we have designed a pattern together and we know exactly the map in which she’s going to snip and weave things. But yeah, her stuff is really amazing, and she does offer custom pieces. So if you’re ever interested in (something) if you don’t see it on our website and you want something specific, we can send her the blank onesie and you can talk with her about exactly what you want. She is super good with that stuff.
That’s just awesome. And I love the way that it’s snipped in a specific way, but it’s also comfortable. It’s not binding like some of the leg wraps that you can find and wear that kind of squeeze your legs. So it’s a beautiful collaboration that you guys both have, and I want to congratulate you on that. Another collaboration that you have is Android Jones. Everybody loves his art. How did your partnership with Android Jones come about?
Oh my gosh. Okay. Well, Android Jones… I knew Andrew before he was Android Jones before I was even close to (creating) Warrior Within. I’ve known him for a long time. I feel like the first probably seven years of Warrior Within, I just could have only dreamed to have Android Jones on our pieces. I would never even have approached or thought of it, or talk to him about it, because I just didn’t think my art was anywhere near his level. Then, getting into the eighth, ninth year of Warrior Within, a friend of ours who’s a mutual friend. Her name is Diva Firoozi she is the one that kind of brought it to the level of a collaborative partnership. And even though we’ve known each other for a really long time, the aspect of bringing us together in terms of art was very professional, and I really appreciate that, because I think he is… talk about a master in his craft.
He’s the top of the artistic world. I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate working with his art. It carries a vibration. Like truly, there’s a vibration to what he makes that is magnetic. Season after season, his pieces are everybody’s favorite and I just… I just can’t even. I’m at a loss for words when we talk about Android Jones. Anytime I’ve talked to his team, his wife, he has a small team that that helps him do what he does… I just always say thank you first. Like I said, it’s magnetic, it’s beautiful, and it’s been kind of the top of what I’m most proud of in my work is the pieces that we’ve done together… and there’s more to come! So I can’t wait to show you guys what’s next.
I can’t wait to see them. I have my eye on one of his kimonos on your website. They’re all just stunning. I want to talk a little bit about your packaging because it’s really unique. You include a crystal with every package that you send. Can you tell me about how that started?
Oh my gosh, I love that you love that. Okay, so the crystals… I’m such a crystal freak. I love them so much. I sleep with crystals in my hands. I am surrounded by them. One of our first vending events was Gem and Jam. And this was so long ago, but that was when I went to the gem show for the first time. Fast forward a few years later, I actually bought some crystals that I was going to sell in the booth. And that’s the reason that I put them in a booth. And it was so strange. It was like the crystals were shouting at me like, no, you’re not supposed to sell me. Like, this is wrong, like, don’t do this. And I’m not judging other crystal vendors. It just wasn’t my product. It wasn’t meant to be sold for money.
But I was like, how do I share this crystalline energy because it’s such a beautiful thing. You know, they’re just like little prayers that go out into the world and also carry their own vibration. And so when we finally could afford it, we went to the gem show, my husband and I, and we bought like a thousand crystals and we’re like, we’re just going to give you away. And if people don’t get it, that’s cool, no big deal. But the people that do get it love them so much and you know, they carry a positive vibration and in a person’s household. It makes them excited when they open it. We definitely go through different types of crystals. So you know, what you get one season will be different to what you get the next season. It’s just our little way of saying we love you. Thank you.
It certainly shows because you even hand write on every receipt that you send, which honestly takes a bit more time. So there’s a lot of love and care that go into every package… from the onesie, to the packaging, to when the person gets it… it’s really unique to see. Another unique thing is that you’re made in the USA and ethically sourced. This seems to be on trend with your fashion exploits, that you’re emotionally invested in philanthropy as a brand as well. Can you tell me a little bit about what causes are closest to your heart?
Yeah. You know, being American made is something that’s been really important to me since the beginning and still is. I feel like right now it’s actually more important than ever. Of course, I didn’t know that when I started, but I love the people that we support. The production house that we work with, we’ve been with for eight years, and we’re now their biggest clients. It’s really important all that we do supports all that they do, and we are keeping the artisanship of production and clothes making in the United States and in our city. And we provide a lot of jobs through what we do, and it’s really important to these families and to the owner… it’s a family-owned production house, and so that’s really important to us. So we’re family-owned, they’re family-owned. Our two main fabric sources in LA are also family-owned.
So it’s just a lot of pride within this small community of artists and people who are providing us with the materials to make our goods. And I keep talking about vibration, but it’s true. It’s so important that all these things come from like goodhearted people in a good place. There’s a lot of trust and relationships that have been built over time. So we just understand that it’s a circle of caring for one another and that we’re all really interdependent on each other. So just to talk about that quickly, but in terms of philanthropy, there’s a couple of things that are really important to us as a company.
Breast cancer awareness education and direct care is really important. I think for all women, but something that we’ve been involved with is the Beats for Boobs Foundation, which is a really cool fashion show that happens annually in San Francisco. That was our first philanthropic journey, and that’s still really dear to our hearts. My mom is a cancer survivor, but also she gives and administers all the chemotherapy in the Yampa Valley of Colorado. So that’s something I fundraised for since I was a little girl. And so we carry that forward. Then conscious Alliance Art That Feeds that these guys are out of Boulder, Colorado. They’ve been around for as long as I can remember. And they feed the elderly kids, but also they take food to the reservations. I think it’s Pine Ridge Reservation, and they had been raising money and grown their platform to do good work since before Warrior Within existed. I appreciate these guys so much. They’re amazing. I love them and I love to support what they do.
And of course, the environment is our third, being a zero-waste or a practically zero waste. Nobody is I guess technically a hundred percent zero waste, because there are threads and little bits that maybe aren’t recycled or upcycled, but every other part of our production aspect becomes another product either through fashion or actually making them into yoga mats or other rubber products. It’s just important to us that we don’t waste and create any more trash in the landfills because fashion is one of the biggest polluters in the world. And a lot of people are finally aware of this. So the fact that just the production process is very important, but also that’s why wearability and the length of the lifespan of a product is so important to us.
We don’t want you to wear out your onesie every summer season and have to get 10 more. We really hope that that piece is something that can be with you for years. We actually have customers that have onesies from our first year. I have some of mine from my first year, that hold up and I still wear from time to time. So even just being conscious in what you buy and how you spend your dollar really does make a difference in the world. Those are a couple of things that we care a lot about, a lot of other things too, but those are kind of our top three.
I just think that that’s wonderful. And you know, we’ve had a come-together moment in the world with COVID-19. It’s caused a lot of strife, but it’s also caused a lot of oneness for everybody. A oneness of being, because it will get you, no matter what country you live in, no matter who you are, young, old… it doesn’t see color, it doesn’t see where you’re from. We’ve also seen that small businesses have taken a hit or have had to adjust. So how is Warrior Within Designs adjusting to the crisis?
I think at first it was like we were just shocked, kind of like the world. Everyone was shocked in the world, and I was a little bit paralyzed… I didn’t know how to talk to our audience at first, because I didn’t want to come off as sales driven in a time of crisis. Once things settled a bit and you can take some deep breaths and just remember how much we have to be grateful for, and just be here now. It started to come with how to communicate to our audience, which is really like a family. And the message that came through is like, we’re, we’re in it together. You know, we’re in it together. We’re all interwoven, not just within our local communities, and our music community, and our friends, and family… but truly the world.
I’m married to a man from South Africa and his dad was able to interview Nelson Mandela. He was the first journalist to interview Nelson Mandela after he was in prison. And he comes from a great politically aware background. And so he’s helped me see the world in a different way, and to understand that there really is one planet and one people on it. And like you said this crisis spans over all of humanity, age, and race, and income levels. And you know, I think a lot about South Africa right now, because of the townships and just how this is affecting them. Then my husband, Grant, has some of his best friends who live in Australia and England, and India. So we are talking with friends and family from all over the world and it’s just… it’s a crisis, but one thing that’s beautiful about it is we can all relate to each other right now and kind of come back to that premise… one planet, one people, one love, because I think that is where we’re coming from.
We have been able to find our footing, this in it together message, and we have such a great community of people that are still continuing to invest in Warrior Within. We’re offering a huge discount right now. Kind of the biggest discount that we offer in a year. We’re just kind of extending that, and (are) just so thankful for anyone who chooses to use their hard-earned resources on investing in our fashion.
I happen to be doing all the customer service right now because our team is spread out, or with our families, wherever they might live. So it’s cool to be the one to communicate with all the customers in such an interesting time. I can’t even describe how gracious people are being about just timelines, and patience, and everything. For anyone that is part of our world, just want to say thank you so much, and it just really warms my heart that people care so much and that people really recognize ethical small businesses, and want to support us. And in turn we do the same thing as consumers. You know, my family does going forward. So, I just want to say thank you, because I do see a lot of beauty in what’s happening because of this crisis.
I just think it’s beautiful that everybody’s coming together to support each other, regardless of what resources people have available to them. Whether it’s volunteering or whether it’s purchasing something to support a small business. So if you had one wish for the world at this time, what would it be?
I think that my wish for the world would be just a wish of compassion, that we all remember that we are of one people and that no matter what happens next with this particular crisis, that hopefully, we can remember the gratefulness and you don’t know where people have come from. So that compassion… Karuna is one of my favorite words. And if I had a child that would be their name, because compassion to me is the most important thing. And I think if we all had more of that and gave more of that and, and express and practice that in our daily lives, our world would be just such an even better place than it already is. So that’s what I would like to see. If I had one wish for the world at this time. It would be that everyone’s hearts and minds were filled with compassion for themselves, and for each other.
I think that’s such a beautiful wish. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today, Jen Jen, I really appreciate hearing from you. I look forward to seeing what new things your team comes up with during this, and I look forward to speaking with you soon. Again, this is Jen from Fresh Music Freaks, signing off until the next time.