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How Karyna Myres of SFPRO-TEX Is Shaking Up The American Textile Industry

If it weren’t for my friend encouraging me and giving me that extra push, calling me daily at one point to check if I had gotten to work yet, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to accept the challenge to make a difference during this time. It took her voice as a […]

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If it weren’t for my friend encouraging me and giving me that extra push, calling me daily at one point to check if I had gotten to work yet, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to accept the challenge to make a difference during this time. It took her voice as a friend and a fellow female entrepreneur to say, “Don’t wait for the big guy to do it, you can do it!”

Asa part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karyna Myres, CEO of SFPRO-TEX.

Karyna Myres is a solution-driven female entrepreneur in the fashion industry with more than 20 years of experience. Myres has always been passionate about building brands that are made in the USA, eco-friendly and sustainable. She specializes in strategy from conception to manufacturing to launch and beyond, and is the founder of Styles Agency, a firm that builds apparel brands from content and web creation to fashion design. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Myres witnessed firsthand frontline medical workers being forced to wear bandanas instead of proper protective masks and quickly built her newest venture SFPRO-TEX where she leads the charge in manufacturing high-quality, customizable masks with FDA-approved options, for the private and public sectors.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thank you so much for having me! I have worked in the fashion industry for more than 20 years, which has taken me in different directions along the way. My brand building agency, Styles Agency, has given me the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in fashion and pop culture over the years, and I love being able to work with a brand every step of the way from conception to web creation to fashion design and beyond.

Once the news of the pandemic was starting to hit the nation and protocols were forcing everything to shut down, I was in the middle of production for a brand that I was currently building via Styles Agency. My first thought was of all the different factories I work with and how they were going to have to shut down, affecting the jobs of hundreds of people.

One day, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about how the nurses at a hospital in Santa Monica were having to wear bandanas. We both agreed this was unacceptable, especially considering they were sacrificing so much by putting their lives on the line. I thought, “There has to be something I can do! I am in an industry that can help.” Despite my thoughts of, “there’s no way it can be me. There are corporations who are better equipped to do something (more money, better fabric, better machines),” no one else was stepping up. I felt extremely passionate about my industry, particularly the fashion and manufacturing industry in Los Angeles, and I knew we already had an army of manufacturers that were not being utilized. I felt it was a disservice to these workers and the nurses, so I quickly put my resources together to help. I actually posted on Governor Newsom’s Facebook wall, which is the first time I have ever done anything like that! My post was a simple question — “Why are we waiting for people to donate masks when we have an entire industry right here in Los Angeles capable of manufacturing them?”

If it weren’t for my friend encouraging me and giving me that extra push, calling me daily at one point to check if I had gotten to work yet, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to accept the challenge to make a difference during this time. It took her voice as a friend and a fellow female entrepreneur to say, “Don’t wait for the big guy to do it, you can do it!”

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I am proud to say that SFPRO-TEX has contributed to the security of more than 1,000 jobs, particularly in California, during the pandemic. This is something that really means a lot to me, and everyone is doing work that they feel really good about because they can see the direct effects of the change and help they are providing.

At the beginning of the pandemic it was clearly evident to me, and I hope everyone, that we were detrimentally reliant on importing products from overseas. I watched the news and saw that we were unconventionally short on supplies for our first responders and were waiting to be “saved.” I watched my industry slowly move production overseas in the early 2000s. Throughout my career I’ve seen many American factories close down, talented novelty dye houses shutter, and fabric mills with some of the most beautifully made textiles go out of business because they could not compete with overseas pricing.

As the news hit that valuable PPE was being held at customs longer than usual, and we were at the mercy of these overseas manufacturers, I was so completely frustrated because we are the United States of America, and instead of supporting our local industries- we were at the mercy of other countries. It felt more important than ever to disrupt that dependence and GET TO WORK!

I also think that getting a business of this nature off the ground as quickly as I did (five days) is a testament to the need and demand in our country right now. I’m grateful for my network and community who helped SFPRO-TEX take off so quickly and so successfully.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

This may sound silly, but I really taught myself everything along the way. I always wanted a mentor! I have extremely successful friends, but I never had guidance in that way because we are all in different industries that do not necessarily cross over one another. I have always been a go-getter and started writing business plans on my own utilizing the Internet when I was just 22 years old. That is how I got my first investor ($2 million) because I looked up how to write a business plan and presented my idea on my own to a factory that gave me the investment on the spot. We started the following Monday. I have always been passionate and never given up, and I think that translates. Fashion is a rough road, and people don’t necessarily want to help you. I had to make my own path and opportunities.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

When I was young, my mom always told me you can do anything if you just put the work in. And I think that is really true. You must work really hard, and you might fail and succeed time and time again, but eventually you get there. I am so grateful that this was instilled in me at such a young age.

I believe in God, and I believe that when you hear Him or feel Him pushing you in a direction, you don’t have time to stop and think if it’s what you should be or want to be doing. You just need to do it. You need to MOVE! If you are not religious, I think we can all relate to that feeling of being called to do something or being pulled in a certain direction. When you’re called to do something, don’t stop to think about it, just DO IT. You end up living your purpose.

Keep the vision even if you don’t know what the destination will be. Have faith in what you’re doing, and never waver in that.

How are you going to shake things up next?

We’re starting a new line of active and swimwear and pairing them with masks with matching patterns. It’s time to embrace our new normal. We’re starting small and plan to eventually expand into the mens active sets as well.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I love the book The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? By Rick Warren.

For a period of time I thought life was about accomplishment and accumulation. That my purpose was to be a fashion designer, possibly get married, have children, buy a home, drive a nice car, and have a few good friends, and a fun social life. By the time I was 27 I had worked on quite a few high profile music videos, commercials, and editorials. I had brushed shoulders with more than a fair share of celebrities, was driving an Aston Martin and lived in a multi million dollar mini castle with one of my closest girlfriends. Not to mention had built a brand that was in nearly every high end department store and over 600 boutiques in the US. I had accomplished a lot for a girl who moved out when she was 17 years old, just to find out that everything that I thought life was about was a lie. Although, I’ve always been a spiritual person — the universe, the law of attraction, meditation, a connection to God, I was still left feeling empty and hungry for more accomplishment and accumulation.

The Purpose Driven Life helped me look beyond all of the things I thought were the means to happiness, and helped me generate a deeper understanding and appreciation for the life I’m living in a myriad of ways. When I was called to read the book (which was a gift given to me maybe 10+ years prior) I gave it all of my attention. It helped me with introspection, acknowledging issues and events in my life that I had to work through, and shone a light on the life I had truly created. I found a lot of self forgiveness and understanding of self. Appreciation for the little things, and the sad bitter truth that most of the people that I had in my life were people that I didn’t actually like or respect — which is something one tends to do in “ Hollywood.” This book helped me break away from a lot of the diseased thinking that is instilled in you when you grow up working in the entertainment industry. It helped me find the strength to change my surroundings, friends, and driving purpose for my life.

I also read passages from the Bible as much as I can and find that it gives me joy, peace, and clarity. It helps me on my journey to being a better person. I find it to be filled with profound wisdom and direction for living a good life. I live in a big city and am bombarded with the stresses of that lifestyle. By no means do I want to portray myself as an angel. I’m flawed, but this helps me to be the best person I can be on any given day, and at the very least reminds me to try .

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am most passionate about human equality. We are all created equal, and we should help each other instead of being in competition with each other. I firmly believe that if we all learned to be truly happy (happiness found within) and invested in those around us that we care about, instead of constantly worrying about our own lives, that in itself would produce so much love. Our society would be different, and it would make an impact on global happiness, homelessness, unemployment and quality of life. It would seep into every facet of our lives. We should all strive to love with our whole heart and be fully invested in everything we do and say.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote is, “When you fall off a horse, you have to get back in the saddle.” It’s a quote I live by every single day. Basically, if you fall down or get discouraged, don’t allow yourself to spend time being down. Put the fall in the past, get up and keep moving forward. Forward is the only way!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

COMING SOON @sfprotex

@itsme.kiki

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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