Behind the Scenes: Leah Todd-Borden’s Flote Apparel

Clothes found in stores have never interested Cal Poly graphic design senior, Leah Todd-Borden. So, she made her own clothing line: Flote Apparel.

Todd-Borden designs and sews a line of versatile yoga wear that can double as swimwear. Custom-made for each customer and reversible, each piece features funky retro patterns that Todd-Borden designs.

“I wanted to be unique and have things that other people didn’t have and that you couldn’t just find in a store,” Todd-Borden said.

Flote Apparel doesn’t have a website or storefront. Customers place their orders on a Google form that’s linked on her Instagram bio. Customers can pick the style, colors, patterns and size using the templates on the Google form and Todd-Borden creates the pieces based off those requests.

Tina Raeisi brought this unique business endeavor to our team’s attention and we immediately hopped on board for this story idea. It was a great opportunity for us to showcase another student’s ambitious startup.

Our team has covered a similar type of student endeavor before, with the story of Blank Wines: a wine company that was started by a group of three Cal Poly students looking to target millennials  by making the concept of wine simple.

“It has been really interesting to learn about what other students are doing and to see student projects succeed,” video producer, Nicole Thorpe said.

However, covering student businesses becomes a bit tricky in journalism because ideally, the story wouldn’t  just act as promotion for the business. There’s a fine line between a feature story and a promotional story.

“Figuring out the interactive aspects for [our Flote Apparel story] has been interesting because there are so many eye catching elements. I’ve tried to not cross the line into free brand promotion, but instead highlight the creativity behind Flote apparel,” explained interactive director, Laura Cassin.

Another challenge we faced while working on this story was trying not to allow bias into the coverage. Each of us have expressed how much we love this business and “it has been a challenge to write [the story] because we have to avoid using our own opinions in it,” story writer, Raeisi said.

One of the things that was really cool to me was the organic visual element that came along with this story. Most stories require a lot of thought on how to best present the story visually; however, Flote Apparel is already so visually appealing that it made working on the story much easier than any of the other stories we have previously worked on as a team.

Clearly, Todd-Borden has an eye for all things visual. All of her designs, patterns, fabrics and presentations of her items will not only help draw people to her business, but to our story as well.

In addition, Todd-Borden is an extremely likable subject to feature. She’s fun, unique and extraordinarily talented. She was super helpful in the interview process, which again is not the case with every story.  She made us want to feature her and her business, more than we even did to begin with which adds a really gratifying feeling to our team’s journalism work.

“This story was really fun to do, all in all,” said story writer, Connor McCarthy.

As with every story, our team really hopes this story is published. It has been a pleasure featuring Todd-Borden and Flote Apparel, and we hope our story will be available to everyone soon!

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