Meet ProFASHIONal: Heather Hubbard, Former In-House Stylist for Vera Wang & Now Owner of HH Productions

Name: Heather Hubbard

Job:  Owner HH Productions

Industry:  Fashion

Age:  32

Twitter/Facebook/Websites: @hhproductionsny, www.facebook.com/heather.hubbard.9634

Website: www.hhproductionsnyc.com

 

ProFASHIONal: Heather Hubbard – in black

with

Reality Chic – in pink

 

How did you first get your heel in the door of the fashion industry?

I have had a fundamental love of style since childhood. My first job in fashion was working as a merchandiser for Express and The Gap on graveyard shifts during college. I would style windows and plan new floor displays for the stores.  When I graduated, I moved to LA, I was hired as a Freelance Sittings Editor at a local magazine, while buying for and managing a local retail chain. I was working with exceptional talents in entertainment, creative, and design. These opportunities allowed me to grow as a professional and as an individual.

At what point did you realize starting your own company was the way to go, and how did you officially launch?

It was a natural progression. After leaving my last employer, the details just fell into place and I knew it was time.  I launched in the Fall of 2008 when the economy was crashing, which offered it’s own challenges, but even so, we had a really great first season and I knew this was what I was meant to do.

Do you have any advice for building your client list?

I try to set myself apart from other showrooms in the sense that I really partner with our clients. It’s more than just getting a sale, it’s about building a brand.  There is a trust and loyalty between me and my clients, it’s important you have that or a partnership with never last. 

I feel like there are so many girls who want to work in the agency/fashion environment. For those 20 something’s, can you give some advice or tips on how to get hired in today’s economy?

You must be willing to start from the bottom and work your way up. I look for girls who are Stylish, confident, educated, have a true passion for our industry, and are willing to take on the task at hand.

Do you have any suggestions for what skills 20 something’s could be working on if they want to one day start their own company especially in New York?

To start, you need experience and established relationships that give you credibility within the industry.  When running your own company, you must have the ability to multi-task, manage a team, and wear many hats at once. This requires patience, diligence, and attention to detail.

After landing a dream job as an In-House Stylist with Vera Wang, what made you decide to change career paths?

It was an instinctual decision, I wanted to work in small business where I would be able to get more hands-on experience. In doing so, I was able to gain the relationships and skills I needed to launch HH Productions.

What were some of the lessons or key differences that you learned along the way in your career having gone from Stylist to Brand Builder to CEO?

I am in many ways still a stylist, an editor, a buyer, and merchandiser. I am constantly editing design details, styling a look book, merchandising the collections for buyer presentations. It’s not so much moving from one career path to another, its combining those skills you learn along the way to build on and continue to grow.

What are your words of wisdom or rules you live by when it comes to helping clients reach their full potential?’s 

You have to believe in it to sell it. 

Can you explain the struggles you went through to get to where you are today as an entrepreneur?

Finding the right partners is the biggest struggle for any new entrepreneur. It takes a few trial and errors before you really know what works for you as a company.

If you could give one or two pieces of advice to girls in their mid-twenties, what would it be?

Be supportive of fellow female co-workers and don’t get caught up in the unnecessary drama. The opportunities of networking are unlimited in the fashion industry when people enjoy working with you.

Last but not least, are there any new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

Yes! We are working on re-launching our website, broadening our consulting services to a wider range of clients needing assistance finding partners in sales, trade shows, and PR.  We are also getting involved in a charity project that will support female focused foundations like Dress for Success.  Also… we have another project in the works for Fall 2013 that will be announced in the New Year that we are VERY excited about… Stay Tuned!

Send us the questions YOU want to hear answered:  erin@realitychicblog.com

If you’re a proFASHIONal & want to be considered as an interviewee send an e-mail at:

erin@realitychicblog.com

Meet ProFASHIONal: President of Danika Daly PR

Name: Danika Daly

Job:   President of Danika Daly PR

Industry:  Fashion PR

Age:  25

Twitter/Facebook/Websites:  @DanikaDaly / www.facebook.com/DanikaDalyPR

ProFASHIONal: Danika Daly – in black

with

Reality Chic – in pink

 

If you first want to tell us a little bit about yourself, and what it is you’re currently doing?

At Danika Daly PR we work with emerging designers to build their brand from scratch and gain exposure through press coverage, social media and events.

How did you first get your foot in the door of fashion PR?

When I first graduated from college I got an internship with a boutique PR firm. While I was there I made sure I was always on top of fashion news, blogs/websites and constantly studying magazines so I knew everything that was going on in fashion at the time, trends, etc. I assisted the president of the company with all of the fashion and beauty clients, and eventually as I climbed my way up the ladder I was the senior account executive of the fashion/beauty division.

At what point did you realize that you wanted to start your own company, & what were some of the first steps you took to really get it going?

I was told by many people, including my old bosses, that I should start my own PR firm. Eventually, I started to take on freelance projects, and as my projects grew, I decided to take everyone’s advice. I made sure I did a lot of research on business, tools, social platforms, and built a Fashion PR Bible to be sure I was ready. Before I knew it, I was running a fashion PR agency.

Fashion PR seems to be one those hot career choices for girls out of college. Can you give some advice or tips on how to get hired in public relations in todays economy?

Get lots of internship experience under your belt. Companies want to see that you have experience other than just college courses.

Network at different events and online via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterestm Tumblr and other networks.

Start a blog. It’s a great way to show your love for fashion and your writing skills.

For those who haven’t got hired right out of college, do you have any recommendations on what to do to eventually make their way back into PR?

Again, internships are a great way to get experience and build a strong resume.

What is it exactly that fashion PR firms handle for their clients?

Fashion PR firms gain exposure for their clients. We work with clients on branding, image, photo shoots, garnering press, social media presence, setup interviews, coordinate events and more.

Could you take us through a day of being the president of Danika Daly PR, & what are some of the tasks you do as the head of your company?

My days vary. Some days I may be at my desk pitching editors, bloggers and stylists all day. Other days I may have back-to-back meetings, photo shoots or TV segments.

It seems bloggers are becoming more influential, do you see bloggers impacting fashion, and do you see more and more of your clients starting their own blogs?

Bloggers have made a tremendous impact on fashion. People look to them for the latest trends and style inspiration, sometimes more so than they do magazines. For any of my clients who do not have a blog, I urge them to create one or we do it for them, and in some cases create content and maintain the blog on their behalf.

Have you noticed a lot more brands wanting to work with bloggers, and how does Danika Daly go about working with bloggers?

A lot more brands do want to work with bloggers. At Danika Daly PR, we interact with the bloggers by commenting on posts, tweeting, liking posts on Facebook, commenting on Instagram and more. Generating relationships with bloggers sets the stage for later on when you want to send gifts and/or samples of your client’s collection.

What is the most & least glamorous part of your job?

The most glamorous part of my job is going to events, meeting people and wearing my clients’ brands. The least glamorous part of PR is the long hours. Some days I find myself working into the wee hours of the morning, and I have to force myself to rest.

Is there any last advice you’d like to give those looking to have a career like yours?

Gain experience. The best time to get an internship with a fashion PR firm is during fashion week when the pressure is on. If you can get into the internship at least a month prior to fashion week, you will see and be a part of a lot of things happening at once.

Last but not least, are there any new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

We are always working on new projects from client website updates to new social media strategies, fashion week shows and more.

 

Send us the questions YOU want to hear answered:  erin@realitychicblog.com

If you’re a proFASHIONal & want to be considered as an interviewee send an e-mail at:

erin@realitychicblog.com

Meet ProFASHIONal: Molly & Sally Miller, Bloggers at A Piece Of Toast

Name: Molly & Sally Miller

Job:  M is a merchandise coordinator for a luxury department store, S is a teacher

Industry:  Retail and Early Childhood Education

Age:  M is 24, S is 25

Twitter/Facebook/Websites: @APieceOfToast ;  Facebook page ; http://apieceoftoastblog.com

I should start this out by letting you all know that if my sister and I wrote a blog it would probably be a strange combination of sports history meets feminism rants meets fashion humor, not exactly the same appeal as Molly and Sally have with A Piece Of Toast! In fact we’d be more likely to discuss the literal meaning for a piece of toast, such as our love for carbs, rather than naming our blog after it. Then again, that’s why my sister and I have yet to start…

 
All joking aside, many people forget that most bloggers are just regular people with other jobs who happen to chat and often write about his/her interest. Molly & Sally fit that description to a tee. They are two sisters (beyond “regular”) who you can’t help but to want to be friends with and share occasional high fives (yes..high fives).

They not only manage one ever growing blog, but they also have two full-time careers in which they too are passionate about. This idea that a blogger sits at home eating bonbons (who really eats bonbons these days) and occasionally writes her musings is false. Luckily, Molly & Sally share the challenges, the rewards, and the journey of writing a lifestyle blog. Read all about it below…

ProFASHIONal: Molly & Sally Miller – in black

with

Reality Chic – in pink

From one blogger to another…

How did you both decide to start blogging and why?

We kind of caved to the advice of friends that kept suggesting that we start one… And we thought, if we do it together we always have someone to lean on and talk out ideas.  At the end of the day we decided to jump into blogging because we felt that it was a nice way to virtually store all the things we love at a given time and talk out our ideas.  It will be fun to look back at past posts and remember what we were doing or what we loved…  We never imagined we would love it as much as we do and blogging has made us ever closer (which we never thought possible!)

What was your biggest challenge at the beginning?

Becoming comfortable with our writing.  At first it felt like we were talking to no one and the awkwardness kept our real voices from coming out… Eventually we got into a good grove with posting and the words and content started to flow naturally.

What made you decide to incorporate everything from fashion to food to design?

We are lovers of so many things – food, fashion, art, people, places – the list is never ending.  And when you’re inspired by anything and everything having a lifestyle blog is the best of all worlds!  We feel like there is no limit to what we can post about… But we only post about things we like and love – things that interest us, catch our attention, make us obsessed, and make us want to pass along.  We just cross our fingers that our readers like what they see and read!

What opportunities has blogging granted you over the past year?

Incredible friendships and exciting business and social opportunities.  We are truly blown away by the doors this blog has opened for us and we feel so lucky that notice has come our way.  But the best part is connecting with like-minded bloggers and readers… The instant friendships that start online and continue into real life are the most exciting and fulfilling.

I must ask, as sisters do you ever argue about what you should feature on your blog?

Haha – we do bicker like all sisters do (usually over crazy things like clothes) but when it comes to the blog we are surprisingly mellow… We honestly don’t even know what the other is posting till we see it live on the blog so there’s really no arguing about what to feature.  Being sisters we are so alike in terms of taste and aesthetic – we really trust each other and know that what appears on the blog is a true representation of ourselves and the brand we have established for A Piece of Toast.

Running a blog and working full-time jobs can be kind of hectic, what are some of the aspects that go into your guys blog that some might not realize?

Hectic is an understatement! Our full time jobs come first – always – but we wouldn’t continue with the blog if we didn’t love it.  As stressful as our days are it’s still so nice to get our creative brains working everyday when we post.  What most people don’t know is that we write our posts the morning they go live… No editorial calendars or pre-written posts… Sounds stressful (and sometimes it is when you’re working against the clock) but it seems to be what works best.  Blog time is early in the morning and after work at night, haha.  We are both constantly checking the blog emails throughout the day but usually don’t get to answer any till after work… And we aren’t as engaged in the twitter and facebook world as much as we’d like to be because of the focus it takes away from work.

How did you (Molly) get into your retail career?

I was working as a marketing coordinator for an architecture, interior design firm and while I like the company and the people I worked for I was feeling unfulfilled and didn’t see the opportunity for my career to grow…  I did some serious soul searching about the type of work I loved and the ideal environment I wanted to be in and realized that the buying side of retail would probably be a great fit.  Then I realized I had no retail experience and that finding a job would be hard to come by.  I was very lucky – I applied for several entry-level positions in buying offices for a luxury retailer and after several weeks of following up I had an interview and later was offered the job.  The environment is fast paced (which I love) and I love everything I’m learning.  It was a big career move for me but I’m so happy to be at a place where there are so many opportunities for growth and development!

What is a “typical” day for you as a blogger managing a full-time career?

I wake up pretty early, shower quickly and then spend an hour to an hour and a half getting my blog post written for the day, sending out a few emails and checking out Pinterest.  While at work I keep an eye on the blog’s email and if there’s something urgent I’ll respond but usually I’ll keep a list of those I need to respond to when I get home.  But honestly, my office is hectic and the blog is usually the last thing on my mind.  Once home (after 6:30) I’ll hop on the computer to take care of emails, check out the blogs I follow, and tie up whatever needs to be done in regards to the blog (guest posts, etc).  Sometimes it feels like there is no balance – especially compared to bloggers that can manage their blog’s brand, social media, and readers so closely – but devoting time before and after work seems to be working…

Sally, do you have any advice for fellow teachers out there who have thought about blogging but have since put it aside?

I wouldn’t be being honest if I said that it was a easy to work in a school full time, nanny another 20+ hours a week, and also having a blog on the side; but it is so worth the extra time and energy that is required.  My advice would be that as long as you are willing to dedicate extra hours in your day into having a blog, that there is no reason why someone shouldn’t go for it.  It is a great creative outlet and a wonderful break from the day to day grind that anyone who has a full time career experiences.  All in all, the blog has been such an amazing and positive experience and has created friendships and opportunities for us that never would have come about before.

What has “A Piece of Toast” taught both of you?

That risks often come with rewards and nothing is achieved without effort.  We took a risk starting our blog… We had no idea if people would read, if we’d make a name for ourselves in a competitive field, or if we’d give up after a few months.  Honestly, we never could have predicted how much we would come to love A Piece of Toast – it’s become a priority in our lives because of the platform it’s provided for us and the people and opportunities it’s brought.  And we work hard to keep it going!

Was your plan to always try and grow your site or is it more of just a hobby?

It started out as a hobby of sorts but when the whole point of having a blog is for others to read and enjoy it, gaining followers definitely becomes some what of a focus.  We wanted it to grow (and we still do) but we’ve made a point to keep things as organic as possible…

Do you have any technical advice or tricks of the trade for bloggers or entrepreneurs on how to grow their online site?

We often get asked for advice on how to grow a readership (which is funny because we are still working on this ourselves). We wish we had a lot of words of wisdom or tricks to offer to gain more followers but honestly it just takes time…  The best advice we can offer for gaining more readers is to comment – A LOT – on other blogger’s posts with your url name.  The more you comment, the more chance you have of bloggers checking out your site.  Sounds silly but it’s how we found some of our favorite bloggers that led to the best friendships.  Also, be engaged with Twitter – tweet and follow the people/bloggers you like – you will definitely start to form friendships and gain readers!

I believe working in your passion is key, then find a way to “make it work” as Tim Gunn might say. Do you have any thoughts on ever becoming full-time bloggers?

Never say never, but having parents that are entrepreneurs has made us gravitate towards corporate life, steady paychecks and career development paths.  Our blog is still a baby right now (compared to the bloggers that do make a career out of theirs) and as much as we love it, doing it full time or leaving our jobs for something in the blogging/social media/consulting realm would be a definite risk.  Plus we love our jobs way too much to ever think of leaving them… It’s what our four years of college prepared us for!  But who knows?  Timing is everything!

How do you determine whether a blog is successful? Is it a reader amount, dollar amount, time, exposure, etc…?

It’s hard (so hard) to not compare our blog to all the others out there… To us the blogs that are most successful are those that are 100% real, that have a following but don’t let it effect their blogging style or content and stay true to who they are.

Being a blogger can sometimes have some serious highs and also some lows, what would you consider your highs and lows thus far?

Highs:  meeting great people, making friends, connecting with readers, attending amazing events, hosting exciting giveaways, partnering with brands we love and respect, keeping fresh content on our blog, and seeing our readership grow.

Lows: growing a readership slowly and getting down on ourselves when comparing to other blogs and bloggers, posting everyday (sometimes ya just want a break), dealing with negative or mean-spirited comments, and living with copycats.

Last but not least, are there any new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

We’ve really enjoyed working with other bloggers on our guest blog series “She Wishes She Was Wearing.”  It’s fun to reach out to bloggers we admire and respect and see their enthusiasm to join in the series – we know how busy every one is so it just feels awesome to have people take the time to participate!

We’re also loving the companies and brands that advertise with us on the blog… It’s so fun to see how business relationships can be born from mutual respect and admiration!

Send us the questions YOU want to hear answered:  erin@realitychicblog.com

If you’re a proFASHIONal & want to be considered as an interviewee send an e-mail at:

erin@realitychicblog.com

Meet ProFASHIONal: Brooke Moreland Co-Founder & CEO of Fashism

Name: Brooke Moreland

Job:  Co-founder and CEO of Fashism

Industry:  Internet

Age:  31

Twitter/Facebook/Websites: @Fashism ; https://www.facebook.com/Fashism

 
If you’ve ever had that moment where you look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “Does this look okay?” Then it’s likely you understand the concept behind Fashism. Fashism is a mobile app and online site where you can post a photo and get feedback (love it or hate it) on whether your outfit works. It’s sort of like carrying around a fashionable friend in your pocket. Who needs personal assistants when you have the world wide web to help you look good?

 

Not only did Brooke believe in the idea but so did Ashton Kutcher, who invested in her company a while back. As an entrepreneur or reader you might be wondering how you go from concept to celebrity investor in just a few years time. Brooke fills us in below…

ProFASHIONal: Brooke Moreland – in black

with

Reality Chic – in pink

First if you want to tell us when and why you first started Fashism?

Like many people, I often am indecisive about what to wear. I wanted to build something that would let me ask a lot people a question an in return would give me unbiased feedback from those multiple sources. This was in 2008 and there was nothing like this in the mobile space. So I decided to (with the help of my cofounder) build it. We launched in 2009.

At what point did you realize you were actually going to turn Fashism into a startup and attempt to give it a go?

I was running Fashism on the side while I worked at my full-time job for the first year or so. Then in 2010 I was approached by an acquaintance, Ashley Granata, who had some ideas about how to do partnerships and grow the site. She had a strong marketing and fashion background having come from Style.com and I thought she was a perfect fit for Fashism. Her passion convinced me to quit my job and dive in full-time. The two of us became partners and then decided to go out and raise money and grow the business.

For those who are thinking about starting a startup, do you advise working another job while building a brand or product?

I think if it as all possible you should quit your job and dive into your project. But I understand that for a lot of people, it’s not realistic. We all need to pay the rent, but I recommend quitting as soon as it’s possible so you can devote all of your time and energy on your business.

When did you decide that you were leaving your “good job”, and how did you keep your parents from freaking out?

It’s funny, I don’t remember it being an issue. I had been on my own and in the world for a bit when I started so I don’t think they thought there was a possibility of hitting them up for money or moving back in.

What were some of the stages (accelerator, conferences, alpha, beta, pitches etc….) you went through and at what point did you decide funding was necessary?

We did not do any accelerators or anything like that. We just build the product, tested it and launched it. We had already launched and had users well before we started looking for money. We decided we really need to raise when we felt like we couldn’t go on without it. For example, we were getting so many posts on the site that we needed to hire full-time moderators and we needed money to pay them. We also needed to hire more engineers to keep up with the growing site.

I must ask, it’s pretty well-known that Ashton Kutcher has invested in Fashism. How did you first hear that he was interested, and how did you go about finalizing the investment?

We heard through some of our friends in the investment community that he was looking at deals in the Fashion space. So we had a mutual friend make sure that he knew about us. He then asked for an intro and we did a call and then met in person and pitched, just like we would to any investor. We ended up connecting and he really liked what we were building so we were able to get him on board.

I like to reference startups to being a 100% bi-polar career with so many highs/lows you can’t even count. What was the biggest high thus far? What was the biggest low?

The biggest high was closing our funding. Yes, we knew that we still had a lot of work ahead of us but having investors meant that we had support and there were people that believed in us, and that does wonders for your psyche. There has not been one big ‘low’, but there have been many, many moments where I felt like this business what never going to get build, launch, grow. Basically at every stage there is doubt and it’s terrifying and there are tons of setbacks. But, so far we have been able to work through all of them.

Did you ever have a moment where you thought about going in another direction or not finishing out the product?

Sure. Anytime a competitor launched or we had an obstacle, I kind of felt hopeless. But those feelings never last long. There is always something else that’s encouraging just around the corner.

Have you always loved fashion and shopping or was it something that you just saw a need for?

I have always loved fashion, but I have always thought shopping was kind of a drag. One of the reasons I started Fashism to make the experience more fun and efficient.

After going through the immediate stages of being a startup and coming out with funding, what would be your best advice to those with startups just starting out?

The main piece of advice I always give it don’t give up. People will always try to tell you reasons why what you are building won’t work. Sometimes they have a point, but usually that person doesn’t know as much about the problem you are trying to solve as you do. Just keep focused and keep trying to solve your problem as best you can.

What are some of the opportunities running Fashism has granted you?

Well, I have had the chance to meet so many smart and passionate people other entrepreneurs, investors, designers, etc. I’ve also had the chance to travel and speak at conferences around the world. It’s been a fun ride so far!

What’s your opinion of the media industry & do you think online sites like Fashism or even fashion bloggers are influencing it at all?

I think that without question digital media is a huge force that is continuing to disrupt the entire media landscape. There is still a place for traditional print media, but the opportunity online is huge and continues to grow.

Could you give us some insight to what one day looks like being a co-founder of kick a** fashion site?

Sure! I try to wake up early and first do some exercise to clear my head. Then I get ready and go into the office and meet with my team and discuss our goals for the next few days usually. Then I answer emails and make plans. In the afternoons I take a lot of meetings with potential partners. I also answer a lot of emails from our users throughout the day. Then in the evenings I usually attend some kind of industry event like a launch party or a meetup.

What are some of the struggles & even rewards that people don’t often think about when beginning a startup?

The biggest reward is seeing strangers actually use your product and get utility or joy out of it. That is the absolute best, there’s nothing quite like it. The struggle is that your startup becomes your identity. It’s always the first thing people ask about you every time they see you, it’s easy to get lost in it.

I have to get in one style question. After running Fashism for sometime now, what is the one style question that you continually see people on Fashism asking?

People always ask about their shoes. People are really concerned if their shoes go with their outfit. I actually think this is an important style question, shoes can make or break and ensemble!

Last but not least, are there any new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

We recently launched an e-commerce site on Fashism. So I am excited to continue to grow that part of the business.

Next Tuesday meet proFASHIONal: Sally & Molly, Sisters & Bloggers at A Piece of Toast

Send us the questions YOU want to hear answered:  erin@realitychicblog.com

If you’re a proFASHIONal & want to be considered as an interviewee send an e-mail at:

erin@realitychicblog.com

Meet ProFASHIONal: Jennie & Emily, Co-Designers & Co-Founders of Hare + Hart

 

Name: Jennie Engelhardt and Emily Harrison

Job:  Co-owners and Co-designers of Hare+Hart

Industry:  Leather Handbags/Jackets

Age:  28 (both of us)

Twitter/Facebook/Websites: http://hareandhart.com/ ; www.facebook.com/hareandhart

 

 

I wanted to introduce you all to Hare + Hart. I was lucky enough to meet them through Wendy Wolf who I previously interviewed back in February. After scrolling through their designs (all handcrafted in Argentina) there was no question that they would be the perfect gals to share their story. Not only did these 20 somethings meet in college and decide to start a company (very Zuckerberg – ish!), but they have prided themselves on being open and transparent about their production process. This meaning, they are not just throwing out the word “eco-friendly” on their products but explaining and educating why some parts are and why other steps are not. Something other companies should probably take a cue from.

How did you both decide to start your own fashion line, and what background did you have before coming up with this idea?

We both have personal ties to Argentina (Jennie studied abroad there while in college and Emily moved there after college to work in the wine industry) and so we started Hare+Hart as a means of creating products that  combine the tradition of handcrafted Argentine leather products with contemporary fashion.

Prior to Hare+Hart Emily was working in the wine industry in Argentina and Jennie did marketing for Stuart Weitzman.

Why did you choose to focus on making products in Argentina?

See above.  Also, we love the culture and history of the leather industry in Argentina.  It is similar to the Native Americans and the buffalo.  The cow is a way of life and they take advantage of all aspects of it.  There is no part of hide that goes unused, no part of meat that goes uneaten.  And due to the vast and fertile Pampas region, most cows in Argentina are grass-fed and free-roaming.  This is better for the life of the cow and also there is less marring from running into obstructions.  Actually a lot of Argentina leather is shipped to places like Italy and China to be used in products that are produced there.  By producing in Argentina with small manufacturers, we are supporting the local traditional leather industry in Argentina and also minimizing the carbon footprint of our products.

Was designing something you were familiar with? Or, did you learn how to design along the way?

While we have always had strong ideas about design and style, clothing and handbag design is something that we have learned along the way.  Although we have not just learned on our own; we have been very lucky to have the support of many friends in the industry who have given us invaluable advice as we grow.

Do you have suggestions for 20 somethings who are graduating college who want to have their own design label, but may not have design experience themselves?

If we could go back and start Hare+Hart over again, we would probably both take courses on design.  There are many programs that are only a couple of years or even continuing education courses that you can take.  The skills you can gain can only help you along the way.  We also strongly advise working for another fashion company for at least several years.  There are many aspects of the business side and learning the schedule of fashion retail that you would otherwise never be privy to.

What are some of the first steps you took to start Hare + Hart?

Our first steps were to design products and then edit down so that each piece fit together as part of a larger story.  We also incorporated our company and delineated roles so that we both have clear aspects of the company that we are in charge of.

Could you take us through the creation and design of a Hare + Hart item?

We always start the creation of a new item with a sketch.  One of us will sketch an idea and scan it to the other, and then the other will make notes and adjustments and scan it back.  This process could go back and forth until we are happy with the design.  We then determine all of the measurements and details and Emily brings the sketch to our manufacturer who creates a prototype.  Once the first prototype is created, we make adjustments and then several prototypes are made before our final sample is complete.

What were some of the crucial steps you took to launch your new line?

Early on we determined our company structure (who is in charge of what aspects) so that we both have clear roles within the company.  While we collaborate on most things, having one person who is the leader of each project really helps to keep us efficient and organized.  It was also very important for us to determine our branding early on.  While it took a little time to figure out what worked best for us and what best fit with our personal styles, defining the brand helps to focus our product line so that we are always creating products that give Hare+Hart a clear brand voice.

What are some of the tasks involved in having your own label that people might be surprised about?

We aren’t sure what would be surprising, but one of the most important things we’ve learned is that we have to always spell out every detail for our manufacturers.  They will never care as much about our products as we do, and unless we delineate every detail and aspect of what we want created and check in every day to make sure they understand and things are running smoothly, the final product will not be what we expect.  It can be the best manufacturer, but you still need to constantly oversee the manufacturing process.

What’s your opinion on why it’s such a tough industry to make it in as a designer?

We think a lot of really great designers jump into the industry without fully understanding the business side of things.  But the business aspect is just as important as design and needs just as much time and attention.

Do you have an ultimate dream for Hare+Hart as a business or designer?

While we’d love for Hare+Hart to become a wildly successful company, we’d be happy if we can just keep doing what we love and be able to support ourselves while doing so.

Last but not least, are there any other new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

Not to stand on our soap box any longer, but we think it’s always important to keep working on new projects and ways to improve what you’re doing.  From re-organizing our file system to creating new products, we always have a couple of ideas on the back burner.


Next Tuesday meet proFASHIONal: Brette Borow, CEO of GirlsGuideTo.com

Send us the questions YOU want to hear answered:  erin@realitychicblog.com

If you’re a proFASHIONal & want to be considered as an interviewee send an e-mail at:

erin@realitychicblog.com


Meet ProFASHIONal: Kat Griffin, Fashion Blogger & Creator of Corporette.com

Name: Kat Griffin

Job: Publisher of Corporette.com

Industry: Fashion/Career Blogging

Age: 35

Twitter/Facebook/Websites:  Facebook/Corporette, @corporette

Website: http://corporette.com

Have you succeeded in becoming one of the 20 somethings that has not only landed a job but a highly respected job as a lawyer, banker, or business consultant?  Well…congrats! Just when you thought you had a paycheck with a little extra room for some serious shoe money there stands one giant toupee of a problem… Donald Trump is the industries biggest style icon. Not that you don’t enjoy a nice striped tie, but dressing corporate (closed toed heels and what have you) doesn’t exactly appeal to everyone.

 

Luckily, Kat Griffin who went from Ohio to New York and Wall Street to Fashion Blogger has some tricks up her button-up sleeve. Thank goodness! She shares her story on how she went from occupying Wall Street to running a top fashion blog that gives hope for those gals still working there amongst other corporate jobs. Read below for all the details on how she did it…

ProFASHIONal: Kat Griffin – in black

with

Reality Chic – in pink

From one blogger to another…

How and why did you first start blogging?

I started with personal blogs sometime in 2004 or so.  Corporette was my first serious blog; I always intended for it to be a business.  I began it in May 2008 while working on Wall Street as a lawyer.  I was anonymous until April 2010!

At what point did you realize that you wanted to write or make a living out of blogging?

I wanted to make a living out of writing early on, like age 15 or so, so for college I went to journalism school.  I worked as a junior editor in magazines for about two years, and then got excited by legal things and went to law school.  I started thinking again about writing seriously after I took a creative writing class in 2007. . .  and came up with the business idea for Corporette in 2008.  It was hard to make the shift from lawyer to blogger, though, and I did both for a really long time until I knew the money was there from the blog for it to support me!

At what point did you realize you had the opportunity to monetize your blog in some shape or form?

From the very beginning. I knew that we my colleagues and I at the law firm, and friends from law school were all making a ton of money and doing a lot of internet shopping, but no one was gearing fashion advice for us, these youngish women working in conservative jobs.

As a Midwestern girl living in Ohio, what made you take the big leap to the Big Apple?

I couldn’t wait to get out of Ohio!  I went to Chicago (Northwestern U) for undergrad, and then came to NYC in 1997 for a magazine internship.  It was the kind of thing where I applied, was shocked when I got the job, and then had to summon my courage to make the move.

You moved from OH to NY. What was the biggest adjustment in doing so?

It’s hard to say I was basically still a kid (20) when I came here, so the biggest adjustment was more to grown up life (like, cooking for myself!) and less to NYC.

One of the things people love is that you actually used to work in the corporate world so you can relate to the struggles. What did working in corporate America teach you outside of how bad and restricted the fashion was?

The lesson that I think about most right now is the value of people’s time.  You learn to not make a lot of chitchat because that cuts into people’s workday. . .  you learn to write very, very clearly because some people are so busy that they only read the first sentence of an email (if not just the title).  Even now, I like to think that I respect my readers time by keeping the number of posts to a low roar the number one reason I unsubscribe from blogs is because there are too many posts (and not enough quality ones).

Was your plan always to monetize your blog or did it just happen? And how?

It didn’t happen how I thought it would.  In the beginning, I thought advertising would be huge, and had never heard of affiliate sales but last year affiliate sales were 55% of the income, and advertising more like 40%.  In the early years of the blog, that was more like 80% affiliate sales, 20% advertising.

Do you have any technical advice or tricks of the trade for bloggers or entrepreneurs on how to grow their online site?

Learn to code yourself HTML, CSS none of it is that hard.  W3 School is an excellent, free resource.

You’ve been featured in multiple magazines how did you go about working with these magazines?

I was really lucky and they approached me!

Do you have any tips for fashion bloggers who want to “make it work” as a blogger?

Know your numbers.  One of the biggest leaps I had in income was when I looked at numbers and realized that shoe and bag sales were some of the highest numbers but I was only featuring those a few times a month.  So I bumped that up to 3x a week (the third post of the day is just for accessories) and the money grew from there.

What’s your opinion of the media industry, and do you think bloggers are influencing it at all?

Pass!  I have a lot of respect for both worlds.  I think they are very different, though, and I think they could learn a bit from each other.

How do you determine whether a blog is successful? Is it a reader amount, dollar amount, time, exposure, etc…?

Tough question.  I think that blogging is a journey it sounds silly but the blog is a work in progress.  There will always be ways to make it better and bigger.  The trick is to take pride in what you’ve built but still be able to see how to improve it.

How do you determine what a “successful” blog post is for you?

Some of the posts that I’ve written in 45 minutes became our top-read posts, whereas blog posts that I’ve slaved over and rewritten a million times disappear into the ether after they’re off the front page.  I think a great blog post poses a really good question, and allows discussion for all sides of the question.

Is there different fashion advice for corporate vs. small business in terms of taking on fashion trends in the office?

Know your office!  Whether it’s big or small, if you have a conservative office, I would be very wary of trying too many fashion trends unless you see your supervisor doing it first. 

What are some of the skills you’d recommend learning for 20 something’s interested in one day starting their own fashion related business?

Whatever business you’re in, read voraciously, and don’t skimp on the business reading.  Know who your competitors are and what they’re doing.  Know who your clients are and what they’re doing.  If something can affect your bottom line such as the price of cotton or the success of a factory you need to know that business really well, too.  If you’re a business owner, it’s not all inspiration and parties.

Having worked in the magazine industry what’s the biggest difference you see in writing for a publication opposed to having your own blog?

The feedback is amazing.  Even back when I wrote cover stories for Family Circle, which had a passalong circulation of about 24 million people, I would hear one or two people maybe tell me they liked the story.  Versus when I started Corporette and I could see (via Sitemeter or Google Analytics) that 300 people had read my story that was so, so much more gratifying than writing the cover story for the major magazine.  (Now we get more like 14,000 visitors each day.)  The other side of the coin is that the feedback is immediate.  Reading a magazine is kind of a solitary experience if you happen to hate a fashion spread you say, wow, that’s dumb maybe you take the time to write a letter to the editor, which might get published about 3-6 months later.  Compare that to not liking a fashion spread on a blog you can immediately say “that’s dumb!” and a million other voices chime in, immediately, to agree or disagree. 

Last but not least, are there any new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

I’m working on a bunch of new things, but I prefer to keep them quiet until I’m ready to make them public. . .  thanks for asking, though!


Next Tuesday meet proFASHIONal: The Betches, Bloggers at BetchesLoveThis.com

Send us the questions YOU want to hear answered:  erin@realitychicblog.com

If you’re a proFASHIONal & want to be considered as an interviewee send an e-mail at:

erin@realitychicblog.com

Meet ProFASHIONal: Joseph Knight, Chief Designer at Knight&Hammer

Name: Joseph Knight

Job: Chief Designer & More Daddy Maverick Big Love at Knight&Hammer

Industry: Jewelry

Twitter or Facebook: @KnightandHammer  ; Knight&Hammer Facebook

Website: www.KnightandHammerMUSE.com

Reading Joseph’s interview confirms my thoughts about being completely passionate about your work. His love for baubles and bling might stem from his childhood, but now it’s a career than entails making jewelry for grown ups along with helping others. A portion of his proceeds go toward specific causes appropriately titled “jewelry with a conscience”. Read on to find out more about Joseph, Knight&Hammer, and how to get your foot in the door as a designer.

ProFASHIONal: Joseph Knight – in black

with

Reality Chic – in pink

How did you become interested in designing? Have you always loved it? 

My love affair with jewelry began in my grandmother’s jewelry boxes. My grandmother, Ida Katherina Hammer, affectionately called Oma, turned her master bedroom into a walk-in jewelry box. This room ignited my imagination and fueled my appreciation for magnificent baubles. The walls were filled with framed vitrines of vintage brooches while jewelry boxes of necklaces, rings and gem bracelets were scattered over every available surface of the room.  As a child, I spent hours finding hidden treasures.

Oma designed beaded evening handbag and accessories. Her studio overflowed with Maxwell House coffee cans brimming with gold plated charms and rhinestones that my young mind thought were diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. I spent each Saturday of my childhood with this magnificent woman. Saturday would start with my father dropping me off at her apartment at 7AM. Oma and her friends, sporting Chanel suits, would be waiting for me in their garden courtyard with a breakfast of thin German pancakes filled with fresh jams and fat crystals of sugar. I’d sip hot coco while they drank strong black aromatic coffee. During their conversation these elegant woman of German Catholic and German Jewish heritage would commission me to create jewelry for them. In those days I took payment in kisses and European chocolates. Unfortunately, I don’t do that today. My early creations consisted of Oma’s rhinestones glued to paper which they tape on to those Chanel suits like Important Jewelry purchased from Cartier, Winston’s or Tiffany.

Take us back to the beginning. What was your first job in the industry and was it difficult to land?

At the age of 11, I had the largest paper route for the Bergen Record. On my paper route there was a jewelry store run by Dottie Morton, an elegant woman always draped in long strands of pearls, gold chains & diamonds. I always made her store my last stop so I could spend time learning about gems & jewelry. She was very generous with her time and nurtured my talents. I always knew what I wanted to do & never had a problem getting the job I wanted. Furthermore, I never thought I couldn’t do something. People often say, “Oh wait you’re too young.” I’d just walk in and act like I owned the place.

If you could list the main steps you took to get where you are today, what would they be?

PERSERVERANCE, PERSERVERANCE, PERSERVERENCE! I really love & believe in myself – in a good way – Love yourself & you can get through anything. BELIEVE & you will achieve! I know it sounds corny but it is true. People are attracted to people that are humble & confident & want to have what you are offering.

Take us through the creation of a piece of clothing or an accessory.

I’ve just created a new necklace ‘Warrior Lover.’ It is a dog tag style charm with the word LOVE spelled out with weapons – gun, grenade, switchblade & rifle. This bit of warrior chic was inspired by my SuperMuse & BodyRock Sport founder Kelly Dooley. Kelly sent me a picture of the word LOVE spelled out with weapons. It made me crazy, possessed even. I had to make this a piece of jewelry. I envisioned the women warrior princess that would wear it. Of course she’d wear a dog tag style charm on a black matte enameled steel link chain. It is now in production. I am often inspired by images & history and I always design with a muse in mind. Sometimes she is a real person, or a character from history or literature. But it is these women that inspire me to create adornments, talisman & love tokens for them.

At what point did you decide to give back a portion of the proceeds to charity?

Always! From a very young age Oma always said, “You’re blessed, to continue receiving those blessings give back.” I want what I create to be more than an accessory, I want it to in some small way change the world making it a better place.

Could you tell Reality Chic readers the skills they should build or work on to one day become a designer?

Once again I turn to my sage Oma. “You’re not a designer until someone outside your family buys what you are designing.” Lots of people like to think they are designers but the proof is in the sales. If what you are designing isn’t selling, change careers.

What advice can you give to a 20 something that you wish you would have known when starting out?

Save 10% of everything you earn for a rainy day.

Do you have a typical day? What’s it like?

I don’t have typical days. That’s the best part of being your own boss. Everyday is a blessing to be alive and an adventure.

What would be your best advice today for someone who wants to get a foot in the fashion industry’s door with the long-term goal of being a designer?

Find the designer you admire and appreciate. Go work for them, learn everything you can for a year or two and the entire time hone your own skills so by year 3 you can go on your own.

In your opinion, what’s the best part about being a designer and the worst part?

The best part is I can work until 3am and get up at noon or not sleep at all or sleep all day. Also being able to have the flexibility to be there for friends and family when they need you. The worst part is money management but a good financial planner can really help ease those pains.

Do you believe fashion school is necessary or are there other options for those who went to a typical four-year college?

Not at all. I was a poli-sci art history major in college.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be? 

DEAD! 

Last but not least, is there any new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?

My childhood Army men spent countless hours protecting my sisters’ Barbies & my Smurf village. So now I’ve recreated them cast in bronze covered in precious metals to protect today’s modern warrior princesses! And while they protect her a portion of the proceeds from this collection benefits the Military Order of the Purple Heart. I am also launching a KickStarter program to raise funds to create inventory of the Army Men collection.


Next Tuesday meet proFASHIONal: The Betches, Bloggers at BetchesLoveThis.com

Send us the questions YOU want to hear answered:  erin@realitychicblog.com

If you’re a proFASHIONal & want to be considered as an interviewee send an e-mail at:

erin@realitychicblog.com

Meet ProFASHIONal: Jennifer Margolin, Fashion Stylist, Luxury Creative Consultant, & Fashion Blogger

Name: Jennifer Margolin

Job: Fashion Stylist, Luxury Creative Consultant,  & Fashion Blogger

Industry: Fashion

Twitter or Facebook:  @redsolediary

Websites: www.jennifermargolin.com

Audio Only:

I was thrilled when Macala Wright of FashionablyMarketing.me introduced me to Jennifer Margolin of Red Sole Diary. She’s the type in the fashion industry that has sort of… done it all. She’s opened and managed a luxury end boutique, traveled the world for two years (uber jealous), and currently has her own business as a fashion stylist (so… Rachel Zoe). You can learn a thing or two or three or you get the point, from Jennifer.

 

In an age where Brad Goreski’s styling rules the red carpet along with your DVR, it’s likely you’ve at least thought about what it would be like to style someone other than yourself. Jennifer actually gives tips for how you can make the transition into styling, if that’s your thing. For those of you who don’t live in L.A. or say things like “I die for” but just enjoy styling yourself a blog might just be the thing for you! Jennifer chats about how and why she started her fashion blog. It wasn’t for promotion or marketing but for herself, something many of us can relate to. Download her podcast to your itunes & listen to her chat on the go!

 

Here are some of the things you’ll learn in this audio:

How did you make the transition from working in retail to opening and managing a high-end luxury goods boutique in San Francisco?

What we’re some of the obstacles in opening your own store, and do you have any advice for 20 somethings who dream to do the same one day?

At what point and why did you decide to start your fashion blog Red Sole Diary?

Has writing a fashion blog granted you opportunities to work with people you may have not otherwise gotten a chance to?

Since you see it from both sides, what’s your opinion on fashion bloggers influencing the fashion industry and the way brands are reacting to this in the digital space?

After working in retail and having a blog, what made you decide to get into styling?

Was your plan always to become a stylist or did it just happen?

Could you take us through the process of getting or borrowing the clothes from stores and/or designers to use for a shoot?

Could you tell us a little about “Style in a Box”?

What are some of the tricks of the trade that you do to determine what to add to a client’s wardrobe?

After years of working in the fashion industry, do you think it’s changing due to blogger influence or social media?

For those 20 somethings, do you have any tips for those who aspire to have a similar career to yours?

Are there any new projects?


Next Tuesday meet proFASHIONal: Joseph Knight, NYC Jeweler to the Stars & Owner of Knight&Hammer

Send us the questions YOU want to hear answered:  erin@realitychicblog.com

If you’re a proFASHIONal & want to be considered as an interviewee send an e-mail at:

erin@realitychicblog.com

DOWNLOAD YOUR PODCAST


Meet ProFASHIONal: Lindsay Taylor Huggins, Senior Fashion Market Editor at SELF Magazine

Name: Lindsay Taylor Huggins

Job: Senior Fashion Market Editor at SELF Magazine

Industry: Fashion/Magazine

Twitter or Facebook:  @LindsayTHuggins

Websites: www.self.com

Audio Only:

The fashion industry can be filled with devils in Prada, but Lindsay is not one of those people. In fact, she was willing to chat about everything fashion, including how to get a job in it. She explains what the lengthy title of Senior Fashion Market Editor really means and took us back to her role at O Magazine as Fashion Market Editor. And yes, she does talk about Oprah!

 

Lindsay gives some key advice to fashion bloggers and recent grads looking to break into the industry. However, I couldn’t let her leave without hearing a tip or two from the SELF (literally) proclaimed Denim Doctor.  She let us in on her secret to buying jeans and whether it is worth it to splurge this year. Download her interview on your iPod, iPad, or some other iGadget and listen to Lindsay spill the ins and outs of what it’s really like to work in the magazine industry!

 

Here are some of the things you’ll learn in this audio:

What it is your current job

How did you land your first job in the magazine industry

Could you take us through one day of being an editor and some of the tasks involved

What skills should a 20 something start working on if they aspire to one day have a similar job

Do you have any advice or suggestions on how to stand out when sending a resume in today’s economy

What do you wish you would have known when you first started out in the fashion and/or magazine industry

Do you work with the Editor-in-Chief and/or Publisher on a regular basis

Do you think bloggers are having an effect on fashion or the overall magazine  industry 

Your best advice or tips for properly fitted jeans

Is it worth it to splurge on a pair of designer jeans

Are there any new projects


Next Tuesday meet proFASHIONal: Jennifer Margolin, Fashion Stylist, Luxury Creative Consultant, & Fashion Blogger

Send us the questions YOU want to hear answered:  erin@realitychicblog.com

If you’re a proFASHIONal & want to be considered as an interviewee send an e-mail at:

erin@realitychicblog.com

DOWNLOAD YOUR PODCAST


Meet ProFASHIONal: Amy Levin, Founder/Creative Director of CollegeFashionista

Name: Amy Levin

Job: Founder/Creative Director of CollegeFashionista

Age: 24

Industry: Fashion

Twitter or Facebook: @CFashionista and Facebook.com/collegefashionista


There are so many girls who dream of turning their fashion blogs into full-fledged businesses. Amy Levin did just that. After graduating from IU (go Hoosiers!) she decided to take this project head on by turning her blog into a business and a brand. Since deciding to do so, she not only has had the opportunity to live, breathe, and eat fashion, but the eating part hasn’t required resorting to ramen noodles and the living part… well, let’s just say she’s not currently crashing in her parent’s basement.

Don’t be fooled by all pretty photos on the website. It takes some serious brain power to figure out how turn something you love to do into a full-time job. Amy’s been featured in The New York Times, secured deals with USA Today, and recently walked the runway in Polyvore’s live fashion show during New York Fashion Week which was the first-ever fashion and beauty blogger fashion show to be live streamed on its site. If you asked Amy herself, she’d say that it wasn’t all street style and posting photos but a whole lot of thought and business sense. So after chatting with Amy on the phone she offered to go into a little more detail about how a college girl in Indiana turned CollegeFashionista in New York City.   

ProFASHIONal: Amy Levin – in black

with

Reality Chic – in pink 

First if you want to tell us when and why you first started CollegeFashionista?

I launched CollegeFashionista in August 2009 after graduating from Indiana University. I was heavily inspired by my peers at IU and the amount of effort they put into their fashion choices. College is a time for expression and naturally this expression comes out through wardrobe choices. I wanted to create a platform where a student at one school could look at fashion from another school and compare the similarities and differences.

At what point did you realize you could make a living out of blogging or was this a later realization that took time and effort?

It was something I realized after I spent a lot of time building the business and brand.

 

I’m sure you get asked this question all the time but for those wondering… how do you monetize your blog to keep a float as a business?

Advertising and brand partnerships.

Do you have any technical advice or tricks of the trade for bloggers or entrepreneurs on how to grow their online site?

To create a unique product and to update it on a regular basis. The more content the more links out there and the more likely people are going to remember to check out your site daily. If your information gets stale readers will lose interest and move on to another site.

What are some of the opportunities blogging has granted you?

The honor of speaking at Teen Vogue Fashion University and being featured in The New York Times.

What’s your opinion of the media industry & do you think fashion bloggers are influencing it at all?

Definitely! Bloggers have a strong voice in today’s media world. They have followers and large communities that turn towards them for cutting edge news and tips on how to stay fashionable. Bloggers are relatable for the general public and that is attractive to the average person. Whereas celebrities use to dictate trends, bloggers have jumped into that position and act as an authority that others want to follow.

If someone wanted to start writing for CollegeFashionista, how would they go about doing so?

Submit a resume, writing sample and photography sample to  apply@collegefashionista.com!

 

What are some of the skills you’d recommend learning for 20 somethings interested in one day starting their own fashion related business?

Hard work, organization and professionalism in everything you do.

Could you give us some insight to what one day looks like running a blog as big as CollegeFashionista?

Insanity. I never have a “normal” day. My days are long and usually start at 8 am and don’t stop until midnight. Between meetings with brands, connecting with my Style Gurus, shooting photos for my own column, updating our social media outlets and reviewing edits there never seems to be a dull moment. I am not a person who can sit in a desk all day so my job works perfectly for the type of person I am.

I have to get in one style question. After looking at many street style photos, what would be your best advice to putting together a great “street” outfit?

Mix high, low and vintage together. My favorite looks are combinations of $5 thrift finds mixed with a fashion forward piece from a mass market retailer topped off with a designer heel.

Next Tuesday meet proFASHIONal:  Lindsay Taylor Huggins, Senior Fashion Market Editor and Denim Doctor at SELF Magazine

Send us the questions YOU want to hear answered:  erin@realitychicblog.com

If you’re a proFASHIONal & want to be considered as an interviewee send an e-mail at: erin@realitychicblog.com