Get To Know The Story Behind Eco-Friendly Family-Ran Brand Dudley Stephens

by Freya Drohan

With the mantra, “Style to live in,” top of mind, Dudley Stephens is a brand committed to making sustainable, lasting wardrobe heroes that work with you and your busy life. The female-founded and operated family brand puts its heart and soul into ensuring that its offering will stand the test of time, all while utilizing innovative, better-for-the-planet fabrics and methods of production, and honoring its various give back initiatives. The Daily heard more from Lauren Stephens, co-founder and CEO, and Kaki McGrath, co-founder and COO. Here’s the journey so far! 

Tell us the backstory to the family-ran brand. 
Lauren: Dudley Stephens is a collection of elevated everyday essentials, all made from recycled materials. We launched in 2015 with our signature turtleneck style, based on the idea that fleece clothing could be both fashionable and functional. Since then, we’ve grown to offer a range of apparel and accessories for women, children and men. Our goal is to create everyday wardrobe staples that become the most versatile items in your closet!

What have the last few years been like for Dudley Stephens as a brand? What have been some positives? 
Kaki: While we’ve faced unforeseen challenges like any business owner due to the pandemic, our brand has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. We’re lucky to have an incredibly loyal customer base; almost half of Dudley Stephens customers own at least two SKUs while one out of every 10 own have at least five SKUs—so we’ve been motivated to continue delivering on the staples they know and love while introducing new and innovative styles to our collection.

Congratulations on launching your biggest eco-friendly jersey assortment yet. Tell us about the impetus for this launch. 
Lauren: We’re known for our original fleece turtleneck but are always looking for ways to expand our assortment to provide year-round, everyday staples. Our spring collection is the biggest assortment of styles yet in our innovative eco-jersey fabric, featuring new warm weather silhouettes including lightweight tops, skirts and dresses. These are super travel-ready, wrinkle-free fabrics and transitional, layer-friendly pieces – we’re already wearing them on repeat and love how many different ways you can style them with our existing assortment. This also marks our first Dudley original print, a playful pineapple design inspired by a vintage dress handed down by our Grandma Dudley.

When it comes to sustainability, how does Dudley Stephens seek to separate itself and stand out from other brands?
Kaki: Using recycled materials was a conscious decision from the onset of the business. It was important for us to make a commitment to responsible production from the start. To date, we’ve redirected over five million plastic bottles away from oceans and landfills. Our products are manufactured using a technology called Repreve®, which melts plastic bottles and transforms it into yarn and that is then spun into Dudley Stephens’ signature, super soft fleece. We monitor production closely to reduce waste and avoid overproduction, while staying on top of customer demand to dictate controlled quantities and production needs.

How are innovations, like eco-friendly jersey fabric, crucial to the future of your mission?
We’re always exploring new fabrics and eco-friendly solutions as we expand our collection. We often work with Polartec®, a leader in sustainable fabric innovations, to reinterpret their recycled, performance materials into stylish, everyday essentials. Looking good and doing good is a core pillar of our brand, and creating stylish essentials from eco-friendly materials is a value that we’re proud to offer our customers.

The collection is practical and easy-going. How important is that for the Dudley Stephens customer? 
Lauren: We know our customer because we are our customer—we have busy, on-the-go schedules and need functional, stylish clothing that can keep up with our lifestyles. Our product is versatile and comfortable, it looks good and it wears well. It’s how women want to dress today. Once we have created a style that works, we iterate on it with new colors or fits, because we know when women find silhouettes and fabrics that work on them, they want more of it. We have the ability to design new styles with confidence because our customers trust our brand, quality and product.

The collection was shot in Palm Beach. What made PB the perfect backdrop? 
Lauren: These styles are the ultimate wardrobe multitasker for any travel destination. Whether you’re looking for a new go-to black dress or to make a statement in a fun, bright print, we designed these pieces to take you from the airport, to the pool, to drinks. Or simply your desk to dinner! Designing this collection made us dream of warm locales, but our Connecticut home base remains decidedly wintery, so this was the perfect time for our first destination photo shoot in Palm Beach.

What do you love about Palm Beach yourself? 
Lauren: We’ve always been inspired by iconic, preppy Palm Beach style – it was the perfect backdrop for this collection. The White Elephant Resort is the best—we love the lobby donuts each morning, complimentary BMW rides across the island, exclusive boat rentals and beach service. Lola 41 is our favorite dinner spot and you’ll of course find us shopping up and down Worth Avenue!

Where else do you spend time during the summer months? 
Kaki: There’s nowhere like our home base in Connecticut during the summer months! We love spending time on the water or at the beach with our kids. We also live for family trips to Nantucket and Florida—you’ll usually find us up and down the East Coast throughout the summer.

What are some standout pieces from the newest collection? 
Lauren: The Lauren Maxi Dress is a founder favorite! The black is so versatile and the pineapple print has us dreaming of summer. The Pheasant Lane Tunic has also been a hit with our customers, it’s the perfect everyday top or layering piece.


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Tell us about DS Gives.
Kaki: Our mission is to look good, feel good, and do good. Through our DS Gives initiatives we aim to bring the comfort at the heart of our brand to those who need it most. We’re proud to partner with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to help advance their life-saving mission. We recently launched a limited-edition Rainbow Blanket made from repurposed, recycled fabrics. For every one of our DS Gives Rainbow Blankets purchased, one will be given to a patient family at St. Jude. To date, our DS Gives partnership with St. Jude has raised over $200,000.

What is next for Dudley Stephens?
Kaki: We’re excited to continue delivering on our promise to create year-round, functional fashions for our customers. We also have new categories in the works this year and will launch new essentials for men and kids. We’re always dreaming up something new, and can’t wait to share what we have in store!

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