November 24, 2020
Get to Know the OPB Family
Interview of Stephanie Stanton, Owner and Creative Director of Original Paperbacks
Stephanie with her brother Michael, President of Stantex Dye House
What has been your personal journey with fashion and how has it influenced what you do with your brand and its business?
My father has owned a dye house for 30 years, so I’ve been exposed to the beauty of tie dye and the hustle of production my entire life. My dad is a true original, and with his instinctual eye for color he’s always coming up with crazy dye techniques that really push the envelope. In late 60’s and early 70’s American culture, tie dye became a symbol of the counterculture, embracing love, freedom, and individuality. In recent years it’s really been mass produced as famous celebrities have taken tie dye on as the trend of the moment. But for me, tie dye has never really gone away since I’ve grown up around it my whole life. What resonates with me about tie dye is the fact that it forces you to accept the imperfections, embrace the unpredictable, and stand out as an individual. Not unlike the 60’s and 70’s, we are going through massive political, social, and public health upheavals. Being a Mexican-American child of immigrants, tie dye symbolizes a call for change, as we wear undeniably bright colors and unique designs as a declaration that we will be seen and heard.
Steve Stanton, Founder of Original Paperbacks
Tell us about your brand’s origin story.
Original Paperbacks was started 10 years ago by my father, Steve Stanton. The concept came to my father as he was reminiscing about his days growing up in Monterey Park, CA. He wanted to start a brand that embodied the simpler days of his childhood, where he used to carry his paperback books in the pocket of his cargo short on his way to read at the park. He launched the brand with just one cargo short offered in 50 different colors. The success of that first short enabled him to expand into a full collection. With the pillars of our brand being vintage feel, artisanal quality, comfort, and color, we have established a loyal and almost cult-like following. Now that my dad has taken on more of an advisory role, he guides me as I morph the brand into what I believe inspires people to be original. Since no two tie dye garments are the same, the mere act of wearing tie dye gives you instant identity. Every piece you wear is a true original, as each piece is hand dyed at our family owned dye house in Los Angeles, CA. Operating out of a dye house allows us to dye colors on a whim, which means we can react quickly to trends or sample up new tie dyes with a quick turnaround. We aren’t limited by our capabilities, but only by what we can dream up of doing. That’s what makes us original.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned in driving the success of your business? Also, any unfavorable personal qualities you’ve been able to turn into an asset?
One of the most important things my dad has taught me about running a brand is to stick with your gut instinct. Especially as a young woman in this industry, I get a lot of people giving me opinions about brand image, what styles to produce, and general unsolicited advice on how to run a company. I’ve felt my most creative and successful when I have a clear vision, derived by what influences me on a personal level. While sometimes that may translate as being stubborn, I truly believe it’s been pivotal to the success of the brand, as we have created our identity by just being authentic and marching to the beat of our own drum. It’s rare to be original in the age of social media, so I think people can appreciate when a brand is true to who they are.