Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Lauren Cecchi, the designer and founder of Lauren Cecchi New York, an accessories line featuring classic styles to one of a kind pieces. Lauren talks about overcoming her biggest obstacle and offers advice on being an entrepreneur.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
A little about myself is I grew up in a small beach town in Connecticut and went to Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL for my undergraduate and graduate degrees. I have worked as a visual stylist, event planner and buyer before deciding to branch out and start my own label.
I have been obsessed with fashion since I was dressing my Barbie dolls, I am addicted to online shopping, and have a collection of fashion books I hope to fill a library with one day.
2. What prompted you to start your own handbag line?
I have always envisioned myself having my own brand but it wasn’t until I moved to New York City that the spark to create my own line turned into a fire. As a buyer, I had a keen eye of what was hot in the market and knew there was a missing niche for Made in USA luxury items. I starting sketching, found a factory, called up my good friends who own a leather company, and the rest is history.
3. What is the most difficult aspect of the business and how do you overcome that obstacle?
I think the most difficult but rewarding aspect of my business is wearing many hats in the company. One day could encompass me shipping out handbags to our online customers, talking to stores that carry our brand, set up and do a photo shoot, design a new collection, meet with a client for a custom bag and attend a networking industry event. Every day is different and it’s exciting to learn every little thing that goes into a business. The way I overcome this obstacle is staying very focused, organized, and just on top of everything that is going on.
4. All of your handbags are manufactured in the US, was it always your plan to have a made in America brand? If so, why?
From the start I knew Lauren Cecchi New York was going to be made in the USA. When I was a buyer I recognized that quality products and made in USA did not come in the same sentence. After reading countless articles on the poor conditions of factories in Bangladesh and China and the poor quality of life for its workers I knew it wasn’t for my brand.
I wanted to create a relationship with my craftsman and be able to walk down the street in the Garment District and see my handbags and accessories being made.
5. I love that your bags are classic in style, yet modern in color; it’s the perfect balance. Do you every design with a specific person or look in mind?
I think all designers have the “it” girl in mind of who would wear their collections and mine is a strong, independent woman who loves luxury and has a tasteful style. Blake Lively, Eva Mendes, Lilly Collins would be some Hollywood “it” girls I have in mind wearing my handbags. I am also inspired by the women of New York City, I am constantly stalking women on the train and walking up 6th Avenue to see what they are carrying and always asking myself why? Why do they like that bag? Why are they carrying that way? Why does someone carry a tote and someone else carries a zipper bag? Every question I ask myself turns into a new style for one of the women I pass by.
6. What is your most successful form of marketing?
I think Instagram has to be our most successful form of marketing. We have over 14k followers and a lot of bloggers love and wear our bags in their outfit shots. When a blogger like Sheryl from Walk in Wonderland or Marianna Hewitt from La La Mer wears our bags people notice and follow along in our journey of becoming the next major handbag collection.
7. Where do you see the business in 5 years? 10 years?
That’s a tough one! In 5 years I would like to be showcasing our collection at NYFW and 10 years I’d like to have my own store on 5th Avenue but I would settle with Saks or Bergdorf’s carrying our collection. I would love Lauren Cecchi New York to be a lifestyle brand with clothing, perfume, shoes and home accessories in years to come. I have always wanted to have a men’s line too so who knows, the sky is the limit!
8. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Everything inspires me. It could be a swim in the ocean that inspires a color for a future collection or a girl walking down the streets of New York City that inspires a style. I see designs in the ripples of my tea and I see prints from the flowers I walk by in the park. I am constantly fueled with creativity.
9. Who is a Boss Lady that you admire and why?
I would say Sofia Amoruso from Nasty Gal is a Boss Lady that I look up to. After reading her book #GIRLBOSS I thought to myself “If she can go from dumpster diving for bagels to a multimillion dollar company I can make my dream come true too.” She was dedicated to making NastyGal happening from finding models off MySpace and selling vintage clothes on EBay. Drive and endurance conquers all fears!
10. What advice do you have for those looking to go from employee to entrepreneur?
My advice for someone looking to become their own boss would be having focus, make lots of connections, be obsessed with what you do and work your butt off! This is a 24/7 job so there are no vacations or sick days.
Know that you are going to have to do the small stuff that makes you sweat before you become that awesome entrepreneur on Ted Talks.