21 January A Flair for Fashion
If you went back in time and had a glimpse of Lacia Sherlock’s youth, you would see a young woman enthralled with fashion and design, passions she has carried with her throughout her professional life. Born and raised in Niagara-on-the-Lake on the Canada-US border, Lacia attended Sheridan, a small arts college in Oakville, where she studied fashion design. In 1985, after graduating from college she went into fashion retail, starting with a mom and pop shop in St. Catharines called Opus. She stayed there for a few years before venturing into the corporate world with Danier Leather and then Le Chateau, which were both vertically integrated, designing, producing, manufacturing and selling their own goods.
In 2000, she was given an opportunity to change from fashion to home furnishing retail. Just back from witnessing some dazzling architectural design in Europe and renovating a house at the same time, probably helped clinch the deal but it was again was with a vertically-integrated company, IKEA, and she has been with them ever since.
She met her husband Christian while the pair worked together for IKEA in North York in 2003 (also based in Bangkok, he is IKEA’s Shopping Centre director for the region). After being together for a year the couple moved to Moscow to work for IKEA there. Christian worked mostly from Moscow, but Lacia traveled to second-tier cities to open IKEA stores. The couple enjoyed seven rewarding years in Russia and Pontus, their eldest son, was born in Kazan in December 2004. Their second child Sebastian was also born during their time stationed in Russia, however Lacia delivered him in Kalmar, Sweden in August 2006.
In 2010, it was time for them to leave Russia; IKEA offered them a variety of different postings, but having vacationed in Thailand often they jumped at the chance to be posted here. Previously, Hua Hin had been their family destination spot and their friends and family often flew in to spend time with them there.
Lacia’s official title is IKEA Southeast Asia’s Retail Director for Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines (IKEA is expanding in all three countries). Lacia’s focus is growing the market share while securing the growth and profitability of IKEA’s retail units in the region.
Her responsibilities include making sure the company hits its sales targets, managing profitability, hiring, training, investment requests, and looking for sites to build new stores.
Her job is a 24/7 operation and she travels a lot. Being a fulltime professional, wife, mother, dog owner, would not be possible without a strong supporting network. Something that can be difficult when stationed abroad. They couldn’t manage if not for Christian’s mother, Ann-Marie Goverde who also lives here and helps look after the boys when the couple is traveling.
Lacia recently decided to monetize her hobby through her own fashion line called Shared Philosophy. She explains how it came about: “I’m in an executive position now, so I’m not as close to the range as I used to be, but fashion never left me. Thailand is a society with deep roots and skilled workers producing handicrafts, pattern-making and tailoring. I knew I would do something in fashion while I was here, close to the production base and centuries of tradition behind it; it was just a question of when. But when the kids were young I couldn’t do it as you need a tremendous amount of time to get the quality, style and fit right.
“My sister-in-law Amm recently started an online business and that inspired me,” she says. “So I called my friends in Canada who own retail shops, and said ‘I’m ready, are you?’ and we agreed to go into this business of designing and manufacturing fabrics in Thailand and exporting them to Canada.”
Describing Shared Philosophy, Lacia says, “We offer impeccably crafted, stylish yet comfortable clothing for women of any age and any body type. Our collections suit women that are confident about their body and appreciate timeless design, natural fabrics, good craftsmanship and a modern flair. We provide a complete look to make it easier to coordinate and combine garments to ensure that you look just as good on a daily basis as on special occasions.”
Lacia stresses that natural fabrics feel better against the skin, are stronger, last longer and thereby you consume less by wearing them.
Shared Philosophy launched in March 2019. Lacia designed the collection in Bangkok and all the garments were made in Thailand, Some of the fabric came from South Korea and Japan, although it was all bought in Thailand. The second collection was launched in August of 2019 with the third launch planned for March 2020. The production is done by local women tailors working in the community in Bangna.
“We are working with women we know and their families are dependent on us. We work together on fair terms, developing a working relationship where we all benefit and grow our mutual business. We visit the shops where the garments are made and we speak directly to the women who make the garments. An important part of Shared Philosophy is the brand value we built around supporting these women and their families.
“We handpick the tailors who already have a base competency and knowledge and educate them on creating a sustainable business based on international practices and standards. We ensure that nothing occurs in the workplace that goes against what we stand for as a brand. We work with small enterprises and family-run companies, where women lead, work and develop.”
Lacia’s production manager, Khun Nud (Nusaree Tisajrapat) worked for the Olofssons for nine years as their nanny. She still takes care of Lacia’s house, but managing Shared Philosophy’s production now takes up 75% of her time. Not surprisingly, fashion is also one of her passions, she has a great relationship with the women who make the clothes and she is always on the look-out for more tailors.
In a nutshell, Lacia picks the fabrics and does the designs on her free time, her team then takes over and all the samples come to her house for a final review before it’s made available to customers. She also manages all the finances – a skill rolled over from her day job at IKEA. A marketing manager manages her social media presence, she also has photographers, an event manager, project coordinators and sales staff to help run the Shared Philosophy business when needed.
Shared Philosophy has allowed Lacia to meet an enormous amount of interesting, wonderfully skilled and smart women, which has opened up a new world for her. “It’s important for women my age that products are made with a conscience and customers are more and more asking questions about where the goods are made and how it is produced. We perceive fashion as a way to express ourselves and feel good about our bodies. It’s important for me and I know the majority of my customers feel the same.”
Moving forward, Lacia hopes to have a retail presence in Sweden as well as Canada and she had been surprised to find that many Thai women have fallen in love with her designs as well, so future designs will not be targeted to just expat women.
Summing up, Shared Philosophy is a woman’s clothing brand born from a lifelong passion and inspiration gained from decades of working and traveling to different countries of the world. Lacia uses her experience and style to help women feel confident and secure in the clothes they select and wear.
“We use high-quality materials made by trusted manufacturers. Shared Philosophy pieces are finished with a great attention to detail and drape well on the body. Seams, hems, linings – we know that these elements affect the final product.”
With the way she balances her home and work life, Lacia is the epitome of the modern woman and she acts as a terrific role model for young female entrepreneurs in CanCham’s We-CAN program.
Facebook: Shared Philosophy