Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Business Babe: Chloe Johnston

Chloe Johnston is one of my favorite people! She's entrepreneurial (she's the founder and president of Chloe Johnston specializing in shopping trips to Paris!), beyond chic... perks of constantly going to Paris and an actual nice person. Hey! Those are hard to come by in this industry. 

I met Chloe years ago actually through an internship I had when her business was first starting out. Since then we've become friends, bonding on a mutual love for fashion and becoming networkers in crime! You might remember our recent trip to NYC to see Mrs Lilien at Jonathan Adler and Chetna Singh's show. But enough about me, let's talk about Chloe and her business! 

From Philadelphia to Paris, where did you develop the idea for Chloe Johnston Tours?

From my love of Paris of course! I first visited the city when I was 12 on a family trip. At the time, being only 12 years old, the fact that I could eat chocolate for breakfast was a big draw! Fast-forward into the future where my exposure to fashion, design, and the arts (it’s simply woven into our family’s life) took over and landed me in grad school in NYC.  I was studying to get my MBA in fashion entrepreneurship, and honed in on what I believed was missing in the market place.  I was constantly asked about where I got certain pieces and each time the answer was Paris; it was always the same response: “How do you find things like that?” “I didn’t see anything like that!” I decided there was definitely a niche for something like this and decided to turn one of my school projects into a business. With the help of my Mom I was able to make a dream a reality. The relationships we’ve developed, the friends who have helped us as my business picture got colored in, are indescribable!

What has been your biggest battle as an entrepreneur? Your biggest success?

My biggest battle would have to be sales.  Connecting the dots from idea, to making a living, requires selling and selling on so many different fronts.  The secret sauce that finally connects all the dots is quite a process; nerve wracking, fun, exhausting and sometimes costly but oh so necessary!  My biggest success would be growth and expansion, looking back at where I started to where I am today, is such an amazing feeling!

Chloe Johnston Tours offers several different fashion tour packages for their customers. How else do you specifically cater to your customers unique style?

Well, that is the secret sauce!! Everything we do is customizable based on our dialogue with the client, our boots on the ground in Paris, including our trend forecaster and our designers. We really make sure that every client has the best experience possible with the emphasis on experience. Remember, style lasts forever.

What is the fondest memory you have of the City of Lights as a little girl while visiting with your mother?

Such a difficult question! I think the fondest memory would be during my first trip to Paris.  We were going to spend Christmas in Paris, which for my brother and I was such a scary thing even Santa had a different name (clearly the cookies and treats got to our heads). Once we arrived I insisted that we purchase a Christmas tree:   its not Christmas without a tree of course!  We went to the flower market and found the perfect tree for the little apartment (it was flocked!)  As we were walking down the quay back to the apartment, the shopkeeper came sprinting after us shouting something I did not understand.  I of course was terrified. I thought we did something wrong!! After he caught up to us, he gave us each a gift, for good luck, and wished us a very Merry Christmas!  I wish I had a photograph of those smiles.priceless!

What are your plans for Chloe Johnston Tours in the next 5 years?

We definitely have plans for expansion into other cities, which I am extremely excited about!

What is the story behind your most prized piece of clothing or accessory?

Right now I would have to say my most prized piece of clothing would be my wedding dress and my most prized accessory would have to be my engagement ring. That little accessory is NOT a Paris find but certainly prized!  Back to “La Robe” (the dress!)  She Said Oui, a new tour idea was in development and my mother and I were visiting bridal boutiques in Paris. We walked into a shop recommended by a designer/colleague.  I loved how different everything in the shop was and there was just a very special vibe. One dress in particular, on a most elegant mannequin spoke to me.  I had no intention of trying anything on as I was really in research mode, but that dress called out to me.  It was explained to me that this dress was a prototype and a very special one, but alas, no ability to replicate it…so it either fits or not! Of course now I had to try it! Low and behold it fit almost like a glove! It was the first dress I tried on, even looked at.  It was the one! To add to the moment, another beloved designer I work with is adding his special magic …can you say fairy tale!!  

Thanks Chloe!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Want It, Need It

Totes, for sure! There's been an afflux of quirky canvas totes on the market. If you're like any other girl I know, a purse just won't need more than one bag. I always have a tote with me just incase for my laptop, a change of clothes or a quick grocery trip (because I'm eco friendly like that, duh).

Have you seen any cool totes lately that I need to know about?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Business Babe: Lindsay's Necklaces

I'm bringing back the interview series, because we can all use some inspiration and support from another #businessbabe. Let's kick things off with Lindsay of Lindsay's Necklaces. I first discovered through her collection at Design Darling and had to learn more about the girl behind these pretty baubles. 

How is your product unique?

Lindsay’s Necklaces started in the summer of 2004 as a mother-daughter business. My mom, Helen, taught me how to sew in our kitchen in New Jersey and together we sewed necklaces for my friends’ graduation presents. We used vintage Marblehead Handprint fabrics from my moms quilt and pillow business that she had in her 20’s. Our product is unique because of the fabrics we use. We travel and collect textiles from around the world. It is my moms eye for design and unique textiles that continues to motivate and inspire me. Anyone could make these necklaces, but ours are special because of the unique fabrics and the heart and soul in the product. Each necklace tells a different story.

Describe how you began donating 10% of your sales to Tanzania and American literacy? 

My mom and I began making necklaces shortly after returning from a two-week trip to Tanzania where we had visited an orphanage. We were both struck by the overwhelming talent of a 16 year old boy, Servio Paul. He drew the floor plan for a house – it looked like an architect did it. When we started making money and selling our necklaces in stores across the country we decided it was time to help Servio Paul. With 10% of the profits we were able to put him through secondary school. Since then we have been able to fund the education of four children who have graduated from high school.

I recently relocated from Jackson Hole, Wyoming to New York City. While living in Jackson Hole I decided there were many people in need in Teton County. I sponsored one child last year through Teton Literacy and as my business grows I hope to be able to sponsor many more students through literacy programs nationwide.

Why did you decide to make a move from Jackson Hole to New York City? 

I love Jackson Hole. I always will. But, after three wonderful years there I was ready to move back east, be near my family and get my necklace business off the ground. There is so much opportunity in New York City. Everything is convenient and everything seems possible. I’m happy I gave the big apple a chance – it’s been worth it!

Who/what is your style inspiration?

I find my inspiration in the people that I meet and places that I visit. I love color, lighting, space and fresh air. I love smells coming from street carts. I love new, brightly colored dresses. I love throwing on a fleece and sitting by a fire-pit. These things make me happy and inspire me to create and design.

Where did you get the idea for your fabric and bead necklaces?

My mom and I stumbled across an article in the New York Times Style Section titled Jewelry Without Jewels that talked about different ways to make necklaces. We had a friend who was making something similar with different fabrics and wanted to make them for my friends for graduation gifts. We had no idea a fun summer project would turn into my fulltime job someday!

What kind of people do you target to purchase your product?

Lindsay’s Necklaces are made for women of all ages. We target women who love color, and fun, unique accessories. Do you like to travel, drink lemonades in rocking chairs, read your book on the beach, and attend cocktail parties? If yes, then you are our woman!

What has been the most difficult business quest for you thus far?

We have found it challenging directing people to our website. There are so many wonderful small business out there, and getting the word out about what we do and how it is different from what other people are doing can be challenging. Tooting your own horn is never an easy task, but once in awhile it is necessary J

How has working with your mother helped your success? 

My mom is my rock. My inspiration. She is creative and supportive. She believes in Lindsay’s Necklaces more than I do sometimes. This business wouldn’t be anything without her. When I have a low moment she makes me feel like what I just designed is the next best thing after a dark chocolate bar. She allows me to dream and then reels me in when I need to look reality in the eyes. Lindsay’s Necklaces wouldn’t be Lindsay’s Necklaces without my mom.

What are your future business goals in NYC and in the next few years?

I hope to see Lindsay’s Necklaces reach women around the world. Our necklaces add color to any outfit. We just want to spread color and joy – Lindsay’s Necklaces is a lifestyle brand. Throw a necklace on, jump on your bike and go grab the mail, or toss one on as you run out the door a little late for work – either way our necklaces as sure to turn heads! 

Thanks Lindsay! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Want It, Need It

Oh what a week last week was, the first half I spent trying to stay awake past 7pm and waking up at 5am. #jetlagprobs Well I'm finally adjusted and back into the swing of things (aka my routine of online shopping). Lately I've been cheating on my love for clothes with my mistress named Decor and Furniture. Now my wallet is being pulled in all kinds of directions. Anyone else with me here?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Want It, Need It

I've never really been a sneaker girl, I went from jellies to platform flip flops (remember those) to Uggs to heels. And never looked back! But with travel comes A LOT of walking and with the issues I've been having with my foot, sneakers have recently found their way into my closet and luggage. 

Luckily, sneakers are totally having a moment! Like every celeb, model and blogger has been rocking them with style. Have you?