How do you start your day?
Water -> breakfast -> coffee -> 5 minutes to relax
Who inspires you?
Nikki MacCallum (my super talented best friend/soul mate), Tiziana Agnello (of LoveThyBeast), Alessandro Russino (our Creative Director), Sarah Centrella (Author of Hustle Believe Receive)
What would you tell yourself as a teenager?
Chill out, but keep having fun—it all works out as it should, so don’t worry too much about what will happen in the future which you can’t control.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
It can be difficult to figure out what to do next or how to prioritize, but just make sure your movement is forward, and not side-to-side.
What do you need to get you through each day?
Coffee, and remembering not to take myself too seriously.
What are you reading?
Hustle Believe Receive by Sarah Centrella and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.
Briefly describe your business and inspiration for it.
I make transformational accessory staples/handbags. I was inspired both by my lifestyle (fast-paced, international and fantastic), and my friend Ian Velardi’s story of creating his own line of hats—which is now a full clothing line.
How has your passion fueled your business?
Without any experience in fashion, retail or manufacturing, my passion fueled my drive to explore and figure out how to move forward to make it a reality.
What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
An idea, and a thirst both for adventure and something new. Also business school.
What was the tipping point for realizing you had a good business?
A phone call from a customer whose order was late in shipping – she called to inquire about it because she had ordered this bag for her daughter. She had already purchased one for herself at one of our new retailers, and explained that everyday her daughter was asking when it would arrive. I told her it was shipping out that day. She thanked me and said I should keep going, because our products were fantastic.
What lessons have you learned along the way that you wish you would have known at the beginning of your start-up career?
Finding the right partners/colleagues is critical, because you can’t do it all. And that (finding the right partners) is quite difficult, just by itself. You don’t need to have everything resolved and ironed out, just try to figure out how to take the next step.
What challenges did you face in the early days of being the Founder of your own business?
Getting attention, having confidence in my work, loneliness (in a solo venture, entrepreneurship can be very solitary) and prioritization—in other words, getting caught up in minute details that may not be so critical.
What is the biggest mistake you have made in your business to date and how have you moved past it?
Working with people who were not a good fit. Also, getting over issues by having a positive attitude and an eye toward the future.
What is the biggest challenge you have had in your business to date and how did you pull through it?
Manufacturing. It was very difficult to find a manufacturer at the outset that would both produce in small quantities and work with me on development and refinement of the bags. I initially loved the factory that I finally settled on, but they were both disorganized and too small for me to grow production as needed to ultimately succeed. Finding new manufacturing was extremely challenging because their workflow, organization, timing, and minimums were so drastically different than what I was used to. Although I have not taken financial or administrative support from my parents, they were visiting me during this difficult time and my mom said to me, “What do you need to do in order to get this worked out?” Having her push me to move forward and take that next big leap with new production was key (we looked at a few factories in New Jersey that day, one of which I began work with a month later).
When self-doubt hits, what do you do?
Realize that I’m probably exhausted and try to remind myself of the company motto “Be good to yourself.”
What is your biggest fear as an entrepreneur?
Taking risks with no reward.
What aspects of being a start-up entrepreneur do you love and/or dislike?
Love: The adventure! And learning so many different things in different areas, and meeting new people.
Which books, articles, blogs have helped to shape your business and/or leadership style?
The 8th Habit by Steven Covey, and the Blog , Making Time.
Are there any go-to resources that you have found useful in running your business (service, web site, etc.)?
We use join.me, Excel, Squarespace (we’ve have recently changed our site design platform, but Squarespace is an amazing tool for getting started).
What has been your best strategy for selling your product or service and what have you learned along the way?
Our newsletter for direct sales, and trunk shows at retailers. Trunk shows (where I create a display of our products) allow me to interact with customers directly and experience their reactions and preferences. It’s also extremely important to stay in close communication with selling channels – to the level of the person communicating with the customer, when possible.
What do you think the most important attribute a female entrepreneur/ business owner can possess?
I know it sounds cheesy, but A POSITIVE ATTITUDE and the ability to work well with others, and communicate effectively.
What do you do outside the office to help you stay creative/productive?
I go to museums and explore new places, and meet as many new people as possible. Any chance to see art, I take it. And when all else fails, remember—as modern art has taught us— that most everything around us is art, if you look at it through the right lens.
What would you say to another woman who asked you if they should take the leap and start their own business?
Do it! But don’t expect it to be easy.