Paula Maldonado founded dauntless in 2016 in New York City with all the factors, certified by peta, fair trade and ethically sourced materials. She wanted to create basic elements that would become the staple garments of a consumer’s wardrobe. Behind that staple garment was a brand story that embodies determination, honesty, fair trade, transparency, love and kindness.
Dauntless is a PETA certified vegan and sustainable ready to wear brand with a modern responsible supply chain founded in 2016. Paula prides herself as Dauntless being the pioneers of sustainable and vegan fashion with a brand mission to create basics that become the staple garments of any wardrobe and behind that staple garment is a brand story that represents determination, honesty, fair trade, transparency, love and kindness.
Dauntless brings conscious fashion to fashion forward consumers and is looking to change the perception of sustainable fashion. The Dauntless business model is about showcasing the importance of maintaining and supporting a responsible modern supply chain. Paula and her team strive to create high end designs with the best quality materials and the ultimate goal of making the consumer feel part of their family and brand DNA, to work together to create sustainable synergy.
The Dauntless team is made up of amazing women that want to create change who are women heads of households holding production artists positions. Dauntless production site is located in Bogota, Colombia.
Shop Dauntless: https://dauntless-clothing.com/
Follow on Instagram: @dauntless_nyc
Click Here to Read the Full Transcript
FC Podcasts: [00:00:00] Pivot with Purpose, a podcast that highlights the unique stories of
professionals that pivoted their careers to align with their work lives and personal lives,
more purposefully and with more joy.
Pivot with Purpose is hosted by Meghan Houle, a globally accredited career and business
coach and creator of the Meghan Houle method.
Meghan Houle: [00:00:33] Welcome back to the Pivot with Purpose podcast. I’m your host,
Meghan Houle, and in this episode, we talk to Paula Maldonado entrepreneur, activist,
design consultant, and CEO of the sustainable women’s immense fashion brand Dauntless
FC Podcasts: [00:00:50] Thank you for listening to Pivot with Purpose with host Meghan
Houle. You can find out more information about each guest, including full transcripts at
pivotwithpurposepodcast.com. And if you’d like to share your own Pivot with Purpose, click
on the share button and add your story to the conversation. Finally, be sure to subscribe and
share your comments wherever you see to your favorite podcast, your support amplifies our
And now this week’s episode.
Meghan Houle: [00:01:24] Dauntless is a PETA certified vegan and sustainable ready-to-
wear brand with a modern, responsible supply chain founded in 2016 and are the pioneers
of sustainable and vegan fashion. Dauntless creates basics that become the staple garments
of your wardrobe. And behind that staple garment is a brand story that represents
determination, honesty, fair trade, transparency, love, and kindness.
Paula’s mission is to bring conscious fashion to fashion forward consumers and change their
perception of sustainable fashion. Paula’s Dauntless team is made up of amazing women
that want to create change and their production artists are women heads of households
with their production site located in Bogota, Colombia.
Hi, Paula. Welcome to the Pivot with Purpose podcast. Thank you for joining today. How are
Paula Maldonado: [00:02:18] Meghan it’s so good to hear from you and I’m so excited and
thank you for having me.
Meghan Houle: [00:02:24] Yeah, well, I know we have a lot of really wonderful things to talk
about and your brand and your business and all your pivots and for all of our listeners, full-
just to let them know, you’re usually based in Miami, but very special coming to us live from
a business trip that you are recording in from Bogota, Columbia! So thanks for taking your
time to speak with us across the ocean here. Yeah, excited to sort of talk about Dauntless
and all of the things that you’re working on, but to ease into the podcast, I always love to
dive into something fun.
What fun things do you have in store for the brand this season, any teasers into some new
things that you’re working on or what you’re really excited about?
Paula Maldonado: [00:03:02] Yes, of course. And it’s an honor to tell you my story. So,
teasers! We just got a second order with Macy’s. That’s a huge growth for us to be able to
sell sustainable fashion in such a large marketplace.
We also are in conversations with another big retailer, which is intel I cannot share, but
we’ve had a huge growth thanks to change of consumer behavior which has given us that
advantage to showcase the importance of sustainable fashion and looking forward to see
what the future awaits for us.
Meghan Houle: [00:03:37] Well, I love fashion so much. I know when we first connected
definitely talking about some of the pieces I love from your collections and could talk forever
about fashion, but you have a story to tell, so we want to hear it. So let’s dive into it! As a
sustainable fashion designer, where did you get your start?
Talk to us a little bit about your journey to where you are at this point with Dauntless.
Paula Maldonado: [00:03:57] Of course. So I actually studied in Parsons programming and I
had so many friends that studied fashion and I saw their late nights, production, chaos. And
I was like, oh my God, this is not something that I would ever want to be part of.
And now five years later, I’m here talking about having founded a fashion label. So it’s a
curious change. I’ve always been curious of how people dress based on their personality, but
basically in 2015, I was creative art director at a luxury commerce where we only sold royal-
And in that case, through these royal-worn brands where royalty actually gave these brands
kind of like a certificate of sustainability, craftsmanship, and authenticity. Let’s look into this
fashion. Let’s see in the fashion industry, something like that.
And the only brand that I saw was actuallyStella McCartney which was vegan and she had all
the responsible, modern supply chain. And I’m like, Hmm, this is a huge opportunity,
business potential and a niche where I should start and create this brand. And I’ve always
been an entrepreneur at heart, an activist.
And why not create a company where I’m able to create a positive impact in consumerism as
well as consumers’ lifestyles.
Meghan Houle: [00:05:14] So what would you say you’re most proud of career to date, and
then we’ll dive into Dauntless a little bit further. What’s your most proudest moment?
Paula Maldonado: [00:05:22] I think this year in January we grew our team to five people.
And just in the first trimester we actually hit our goal for the revenue of the end of year. So
that was a huge kind of turning point for us and for me, myself as a founder and see that
potential that Dauntless has in the marketplace.
Meghan Houle: [00:05:45] Sustainability, I mean it’s something that everyone’s talking about
now more than ever. Absolutely. What was that driving force behind creating Dauntless? Did
you always want your own line?
Paula Maldonado: [00:05:55] Yes. So I’ve always wanted my own line. I wanted to launch
with basics. So who doesn’t own at least one leather jacket in their closet.
So why not have that staple garment of their wardrobe, be a Dauntless jacket where behind
that jacket, you have all these values of determination, sustainability, loving, kindness,
conscious fashion. So that’s one, it was what I wanted to portray in the office. Another
driving force is woman empowerment.
I feel that success is not gender related. We’re an all woman team, female founded. So it’s
definitely a driving force creating this community of self virtue and sustainability.
Meghan Houle: [00:06:36] I’m obsessed with your brand pillars all about women’s
empowerment and all that you’re doing even in Bogota, right?
Where you have a good amount of women helping you on the supply chain side, like heads
of households, right? Like really employing people there in Columbia as well.
Paula Maldonado: [00:06:50] Yeah, correct. We employ women heads of households and
it’s again, creating this community where we educate about sustainability.
And then this is kind of a spread of knowledge and care for our planet and consumerism,
where they apply this to their communities and within their households as well.
Meghan Houle: [00:07:07] Yeah, so important across the world. We all have to do our part,
right? Why is sustainability something we truly all need to care about when investing in
What are your thoughts around that?
Paula Maldonado: [00:07:18] It’s an obligation as a consumer to really look into and read
about a brand or what you’re purchasing. It can be beauty, it can be, for example, the
detergent, you really have to look into what you’re buying.
And it’s something that we need to change as consumers and apply into our day to day.
Meghan Houle: [00:07:37] And we can start small. Right? It doesn’t have to be like clean
slate. I’m doing everything all at once, but I agree investing in those things, maybe the
things that you use most often.
I think when it comes to fashion, like really investing, like you said, in a leather jacket I’m
obsessed with that vegan blue suede that is no longer available, but maybe you’ll just make
a special one for me.
Paula Maldonado: [00:07:58] We’ll make one just for you, Meghan.
Meghan Houle: [00:07:59] Oh, see everyone I’m going to hold her to it now we have it in an
audio, not in writing, an audio. But yeah, no, it’s our responsibility.
It really, really is. So I appreciate all that you’re doing. And it’s really cool coming from a very
creative and arts driven background. What do you think has been the key to your successful
pivots as so many listeners and the podcasts are really career-driven and professionals out
there. What are some of those successes that you feel like you’ve really had in pivoting
through each job?
Paula Maldonado: [00:08:27] Of course. So basically one of the main points would be
financials. I think that for any business, if you understand your financials: your assets, your
liability, your revenue, your cashflow, your churn rate. I mean, it’s these things that I think
that if you understand, it’s so much easier to have a longer life in your business to
understand. That was a huge career pivot for me to understand those financials and look for
that breakeven, look for that success. You look into breaking even when you get there,
you’re like, okay, wow, this is a real business.
And it does take time for a lot of businesses to get there so it’s normal but that’s a huge
career pivot for myself.
Meghan Houle: [00:09:14] Well, and for the team that you’ve built, which congrats, for a
growing business, five team members! That’s pretty big. You don’t know what you don’t
know. Right? So you try to surround yourself with those experts that can then kind of blend
in. So what does that team dynamic look like for you? And do you see more growth coming
in the future?
Paula Maldonado: [00:09:33] Yes. So I think that it’s an obligation as a CEO and as founders
to be okay to give someone better at something than you are give them that trust and
confide that you just hired this amazing person that will help you and help the business.
So that’s something that I think all entrepreneurs struggle, is that you want to do it all, but
the person that does it all doesn’t do anything really. So having this team of such incredible
women, this morning we had breakfast together and we’re laughing about these things
that happen, with the wifi struggling in such an important call from this like small things to
more personal things.
So having this family team is just fantastic for me. I’m very appreciative.
Meghan Houle: [00:10:17] Well, you’re certainly creating that positive culture, work culture,
culture value add, potentially, as you continue to grow your business, I think what draws a
lot of people to brands is the people that they work around and knowing that it feels good
and you’re doing good work and everyone’s working together for the greater good.
That’s what it’s all about. I’m so happy to hear all that. And I know you guys are just going to
keep crushing it out there, but before we move on to our next session, I always like to put
our guests on the spot with a yes or no question
and then we usually go to a break. So yes or no, for someone looking to launch their own
sustainable fashion brand, do you think it’s easy to get started?
Paula Maldonado: [00:10:56] No.
Meghan Houle: [00:10:58] Alright well, we’ll talk through that we will be going to a quick
break and we will pick this up when we get back.
All right, Paula. So before the break, you said no. So what would you say is the best first step
if someone wants to get their brand off the ground and what are some of those challenges
that you see in starting a sustainable brand?
Paula Maldonado: [00:11:31] Yes. So I think you have to be relevant of what you’re creating,
not go into the easy route, you can find a non-sustainable fabric, cheaper, easier then
sourcing of that sustainable fabric, that’s based on your values. So don’t go on the easy
route, you have to be relevant and you have to be credible of what you’re creating and
what you want to sell to your customers. And I think really it’s kind of like, Meghan, you
mentioned those pillars, don’t lose your north.
Don’t lose your north, keep your values and I think that just makes you relevant and honest,
and it shows when you’re creating something, it shows what is behind your brand. And I
think that’s very, very important.
Meghan Houle: [00:12:12] What other resources and, or network support would you say are
other important things to have as you get your brand started?
Paula Maldonado: [00:12:21] There’s so many opportunities, for example, Female Founder
Collective by Rebecca Minkoff which we’re part of… It’s an amazing community of women
helping out and they respond and they help you. There’s also great workshops. We just won
a contest with Wework and SoftBank of Women of Tomorrow Creating Impact.
They offer you these exclusive courses with SoftBank and Wework and to help you with
these resources being you’re just starting off. Dauntless has in been business for five years.
So look for these opportunities. There’s just so much free information and opportunity and
you just have to look for it.
Meghan Houle: [00:12:58] What’s that inspiration behind Dauntless? Love to hear your
story. What’s the name all about?
Paula Maldonado: [00:13:04] So I’ve always been called bossy.
So I’m like, okay, I think Dauntless defines exactly who I am in all its values and even just the
garments that I sell is something that I would want to wear, not looking for that, acceptance
of the fashion industry, of couture and being all crazy, just, what would I wear?
And that’s definitely an inspiration. Dauntless, is about determination fearlessness, and I
think that’s what I want the customer, that benefit of purchasing, feeling good, feeling that
you’re creating consciousness because there’s been such great reviews of our brand of, “this
is not only beautiful, but it’s sustainable” start to create a conversation either about
sustainability or sustainable fashion or even just about Dauntless. So that’s a huge deal for
Meghan Houle: [00:13:59] What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
Paula Maldonado: [00:14:01] So everybody talks about freedom, but I mean, we work 24/7,
so I don’t know.
Meghan Houle: [00:14:06] And you’re like, it’s not really freedom… Freedom from like a
Paula Maldonado: [00:14:11] Right, right. Yeah. Then I’m guessing you can work anywhere. I
think entrepreneurs, I think it’s just this addiction to adrenaline, right? You have these peaks
and these lows, you get this amazing peak of success and, for example, signing Macy’s or
winning, Wework with SoftBank and then it’s like, oh my God, I have to go into my cashflow,
make that happen for the production of Macy’s, but then you send the delivery and the
and you’re just like ecstatic again. So I think it’s that addiction of the adrenaline rush of
Meghan Houle: [00:14:44] Much like what I do here on my coaching side and with recruiting
when you are running your own business, it’s the high highs and the low lows.
Sometimes call it the Corona coaster or at least last year. My husband’s like, oh, what
happened today? And then the next day, you’re like, winning the lottery, or feeling like it. So,
yeah, it’s just about balancing it. Take the good with the bad, things will work out some
things don’t and you just have to just have to roll with it.
But what is something you struggle with? And how would you overcome self doubt? What is
something you’re challenged with and how do you overcome those days where you’re not
feeling a hundred percent or second guessing things?
Paula Maldonado: [00:15:18] Yeah, it’s tough. I think overcoming self-doubt is quite difficult.
The other day I was talking with my boyfriend and his brother and I’m like, if Dauntless just
doesn’t get where I want it to be in December I’m just going to close and they’re like can I
buy your business?
Like, what are you thinking? And it’s this moments of self-doubt then a day later you’re like
of course not, it’s not easy. And I think if you build a community, even my own family of
employees, they’re like, we can do this.
Nothing comes easy. No one said it was going to be easy either, even though it’s super cliche
to say that, but it’s true. When you become an entrepreneur, you have that kind of secret
goal that you don’t tell anyone about.
And you just want to get there, but you don’t really share it. So that’s kind of like, swimming
against the current. You want to get there, but it’s tough. And I think if you surround
yourself again with the support system, I think that’s a huge deal.
Meghan Houle: [00:16:14] It’s true. The network, the support, it’s everything. And you said,
so Dauntless’s about five years in, right? Is there anything you would tell your former self
five years ago as you started this journey? Anything you would tell yourself or have done
differently up to this point?
Paula Maldonado: [00:16:28] I think I would have gotten a full master in accounting.
I think that I wouldn’t have so many gray hairs,
It’s tough, but I think I would say what were you thinking, but then look at yourself now. I’m
grateful of all my hard work. And I think that also an entrepreneur, you have to kind of have
that self value. And just saying like, look, it’s been five years.
I mean, you got into Macy’s five years later, you’ve gotten all these contests and grants and
opportunities five years later. It’s not something the day after. So I think that’s good, and
resilience. I think that’s something that is great for entrepreneurs.
And also what I love to share is, I want to share my knowledge. I want to be the support
system of other entrepreneurs, even if it’s not someone that I know, but they’re willing to
reach out. And I think through LinkedIn and your podcast is having this knowledge spread
out and support, which is great.
Meghan Houle: [00:17:31] Yeah, well, I’m sure you’ll have a lot of people hopefully looking
to connect with you with so many ideas. A lot of like resources that people can tap into, free
things. Please, I urge anyone to contact Paula, maybe kindly pick her brain as I know you
don’t want this influx, but I appreciate you sharing that generous offering and you probably
do mentor and could be an incredible mentor. What can we expect to see from Dauntless,
anything else as you sort of near the end of this year, the new collections of the basics
coming out, what are you excited about collection-wise?
Paula Maldonado: [00:18:04] We are creating this new kind of facelift of Dauntless, which
we’ll be launching in 2022, early 2022.
And this is something we’ve been working on this full year and launching an amazing
collection, all linen, all sustainable linen in May. And it’s the first time we do something like
that. But we will continue doing our MVPs and hopefully as well as, raising our first seed.
It’s been scary. It’s tough. It’s not easier either, also as a female founder. But I think we’ll get
there. And again, as I mentioned before, I don’t think success is true directly to any gender. I
want to break those barriers.
Meghan Houle: [00:18:44] Well you are, and you have such a great mission, brand pillars, all
of the wonderful things you’re doing. As you continue to grow and expand, would you be
looking to hire an expand in your team in the coming years? So I can stay in touch with you
on that as it certainly seems like a very cool group to work with, but any plans to keep
building your team as you can as well?
Paula Maldonado: [00:19:04] Yes. I think this semester we’ll be hiring two people, hopefully
three and we’re open to anything. Sometimes I see that resume and I’m like, no, no, I just
want to meet the person. I think, I didn’t have the best grades and I’m an entrepreneur, and
I think I have plenty of knowledge and I’m not saying I’m the smartest person in the world,
but I think that it’s those things that makes you great.
Meghan Houle: [00:19:29] Well thank you for saying that as I know many of our listeners
you have your resume out there and it’s a competitive space in our industry and fashion.
And so many people are just judged by their resume, it’s a piece of paper! Like get on a
phone with someone talk to someone, the magic is in you. Your story is what it is on paper,
but you telling it, I think is really what brings you to life, thank you for that point.
So for our listeners, what do you feel like is one piece of sustainable clothing that somebody
should invest in? What does everybody need in their closet right now and why?
Paula Maldonado: [00:20:05] Okay. So I think a full leather jacket by Dauntless.
I think it’s the staple garment of any customers, you know for a fashion forward wardrobe, I
think a full leather jacket doesn’t especially target a style or race or culture. Absolutely
anything. I think anyone owns at least one jacket in their wardrobe.
Like I mentioned previously, so let’s buy sustainably, I think a full leather jacket that’s non
seasonable. That’s storable and has a long life. I think it’s something you should invest in and
invest in the brand as well. And I think you potentially share the same values as the brand
you’re buying in. So I think that’s great.
Meghan Houle: [00:20:52] And I feel like you also have some really cool sneakers. Cause I
feel like streetwear sneakers, I mean always have been hot, but that’s kind of the go-to shoe
as not many people are wearing heels, you know walking around. So tell us a little bit more
about those sneakers.
Cause I know they’re like a hundred percent sustainable, obviously recycle. Like they’re
pretty special. I love them.
Paula Maldonado: [00:21:11] Thank you, no, they’re all certified sustainable recycled
materials or eco standard certified. And it’s actually a collaboration with a Swedish brand.
They’re made in Portugal.
But what’s great is the tag that we put on is everything that the shoe represents and it’s
what it’s made of. So being again, fully this transparent and honest company of what you’re
selling to that consumer and those benefits of what they’re investing in.
And you can find those online as well. And they’re unisex, which we wanted to create. Again,
not targeting a gender.
Meghan Houle: [00:21:45] Question for you, and then we can talk about listeners being able
to find you, but for someone who is cleaning out their closet or say some of the sustainable
fashions, you’ve given it a lot of love, it’s worn out.
I mean, I try to donate so many clothes that I can, and it’s really like edited down my closet.
So I don’t have so much like, oh my gosh, the days of fast fashion. It frightens me and to
think about where that is. Like, I know a lot of it went to a good home and donated. I’m
thinking with your product and I’m sure it’s very long lasting, but if something got really
loved, how do people recycle clothing what are some of best practices if people are sitting
on a bunch of things, wanting to donate, can’t consign. How do we get more responsible
with not having so many sustainable things right now? And then I was thinking for you, if
something winds up getting really worn out, can you recycle it?
What are some best practices?
Paula Maldonado: [00:22:35] Yeah. So in our jackets the care tag actually says, if you don’t
want it donate upcycle. You can do so much with a piece of clothing. You can add like
stitching, patches, make exchange with a friend.
So there’s so many opportunities to be sustainable as a consumer. But again, if you want
something and it’s for you and it’s totally fine, you know? No one’s judging you. But buy
conscious fashion, buy sustainable fashion. Look into, who’s making your clothes, where are
they sourcing their materials?
Is it a huge corporate company or is it a small business? Where this brand wants to create
change? I think it’s huge as well. When you’re go into a brand look into their about, do they
share their team members? Do they show all these pillars and values? And I think that’s
being a sustainable consumer.
Meghan Houle: [00:23:27] Well, like you said, try to up sell, try to recycle, try to share, be
more conscious everyone. So let’s take our step if there’s something you’re gonna invest in,
in the next couple of weeks and fashion or summer take Paula’s advice, do your research,
buy that one piece or that vegan leather jacket from her brand and know that it makes a
Where can our listeners find you and shop your collection? And are you on any other
platforms and I’m so excited about Macy’s! Where else can we find you and shop?
Paula Maldonado: [00:23:54] Directly through our website at dauntless-clothing.com. At
Macy’s, we’ve also have a huge market in the UK. You can buy Immaculate Vegan, NEM,
Treen, there’s so many.
If you buy directly through our website, it’s a two to three-day delivery with all sustainable
packaging as well. So you can find us there. You need any help you can just contact us
Meghan Houle: [00:24:19] Perfect. We’ll do all the nice links in your bio through the web.
And of course in the show notes and the podcast.
Paula, thank you for coming on the podcast, you are incredibly talented and I’m obsessed
with your brand and your vision, your story, your body suits, the vegan jackets, all the things.
What you’re doing for the future of fashion is truly amazing, and I look forward to keeping
my eye on you as you continue to grow your business.
Everyone connect with Paula. Check out Dauntless and good luck with all you have going on.
Paula Maldonado: [00:24:48] It’s been a real pleasure, Meghan. Thank you so much for this
space to talk further about sustainable fashion and you just have to send me your address
to send you that light blue jacket.
Meghan Houle: [00:24:58] And then, we’ll post it and make everyone jealous! Thank you.
You’re very kind and stay tuned, everyone for more Pivot with Purpose stories to come! Be
sure to share this podcast, and especially this episode with your network.