|Founder||Rachel Rothenberg-Saenz & Alexandra Baylis|
Fashion, Health & Wellness, Sustainability
|Press Contact||Rachel Rothenberg-Saenz|
Welles is a new generation of performance uniforms, starting with scrubs, that combines sustainability, comfort, and style. Made from biodegradable materials engineered to leave no trace, we like to think of it as purposewear, for people and planet.
Welles co-founders Rachel Rothenberg-Saenz and Alexandra Baylis met in 2017 while working as department heads on the design team at fashion house Oscar de la Renta.
At the onset of the 2020 pandemic, faced with images in the news of healthcare workers turning to garbage bags as protection, the duo were spurred into action and started their nonprofit, Garment District for Gowns. What started as an initiative to provide work opportunities for then-jobless sewers by manufacturing and donating PPE to healthcare workers in dire need across the country, snowballed, at the direction of New York State into a new, for-profit business venture, Goldatech, to establish a robust supply chain for PPE in New York, and to avoid this situation happening again. The pair went on to make nearly a million medical gowns for various State and city governments, mobilizing a workforce of 1200 people in New York City.
While Rachel & Alex were inspired by the selfless dedication of the healthcare workforce and honored to help in any way they could, they were deeply conflicted about:
1) how lacking medical apparel was in technical innovation - as compared to how far athleisure has come in the last 20 years
2) how much unavoidable and essential waste was generated during the pandemic
3) how much of a key contributor medical uniforms are to the microplastic pollution crisis
4) the level at which virtually all uniform wearers are exposed to PFAs ("forever chemicals").
The pair decided to work on solutions, starting with scrubs, and Welles came to be.
With nearly 40 collective years in the industry, Rachel & Alex have a deep understanding of the impact of our clothing, and continues to spend much time on research and development to improve materials and processes, including work towards closed-loop solutions.
A fashion industry vet, Rachel has worked in apparel for nearly years, first cutting her teeth at Authentic Brands Group in 2004. From there she worked her way through the industry— eventually becoming Oscar de la Renta’s Head of Product, after years of learning her craft at Ralph Lauren, The Row, and Ralph Rucci. The pandemic sparked a new entrepreneurial chapter for both Rachel and her team— the March 2020 launch of their non-profit ‘Garment District for Gowns,’ aimed to help under- served healthcare workers, led to the eventual formation of their company ‘Goldatech,’ which manufactures uniforms, medical, and surgical apparel for state agencies and the Department of Defense (U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard). Rachel's team were the first awardees of Empire State Development's Covid Retooling Grant out of 40,000 applicants, and was awarded the 2021 NYS MWBE Innovation Award. Rachel has now launched Welles, an ESG-focused scrubs company on a mission to reset technical performance and environmental accountability standards.
The former Head of Knitwear for Oscar de La Renta, Christian Dior, Carolina Herrera and Vera Wang brings 10+ years’ experience and expertise in fiber science, fabric construction and design to the team. Having developed apparel for many VIP clients such as Vice President Kamala Harris, worn on the eve of the 2021 Presidential inauguration, Alexandra has a keen understanding and attention to quality control, with a focus on fabrics and fibers. Alexandra has spearheaded the development of Welles’ proprietary materials and components, as well as implemented key sourcing & sustainability strategies and management systems. At the height of the pandemic, Alexandra mitigated and diverted severe supply chain disruptions of raw materials caused by Covid-19, allowing GOLDATECH to fulfill large volume contracts without delays. Formerly from the UK, Alexandra is a graduate of Central Saint Martin’s University, London.
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