Boss Lady: Deanna and Daria

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Deanna and Daria, sisters and co-founders of Hubbell Hille shoes.  While both women still maintain full-time jobs, their main goal is to continue to create and grow a comfortable shoe line that fits their preppy style. They share with us their marketing tools, advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and the challenge of balancing it all.

Hubbel Hile

1. Tell us about yourselves and your career.
We grew up in a close-knit family in Colts Neck, NJ and have been in the City for eight (Deanna) and five (Daria) years.  We’re usually back and forth between NY and NJ and spend weekends in the summer at the beach in Spring Lake, NJ.

Deanna: In high school I had a small business making handbags, which prompted me to go to The Fashion Institute of Technology.  I loved living in New York and started a small wardrobe consulting company helping working women with their style; however I quickly realized that my dream was to work in finance.  Coming from an unconventional background, I started my journey by spending two years underwriting financial institutions in insurance and am now working at a private equity firm.  Though I love my day job and the industry that I am in, my creative side, the constant need to be busy and an unrelenting desire to start my own business, prompted me to start Hubbell Hille with my sister.

Daria: I went to college for elementary education and had the full intention of becoming a teacher in New Jersey.  After a few jobs in varying industries, and a jump across the river to New York (much to my surprise), I am now the Office Manager at an all-women financial recruiting company.  Much like my sister, I love my day job, however my love of fashion and the desire to by my own boss one day led me to say “yes” when my sister came out of the bedroom one rainy Thursday night with the grand idea of starting a shoe company.

2. Describe a typical work day balancing a full-time job and your own shoe company.
Deanna/Daria: We typically leave the house around 7/8AM and don’t get home until 7/8PM so aside from orders that have to go out right away, most of the Hubbell Hille work is done on the weekends.  Once a month, we hold board meetings at our kitchen counter to discuss what needs to be changed and if we are meeting goals.  What’s nice about being the owners is that we don’t have to answer to anyone besides ourselves.  We are fully accountable for the pace that Hubbell Hille will grow at and we are not pressuring ourselves to be an overnight success.

3. What was your inspiration behind starting Hubbell Hille?
Deanna: I’ve always had the desire to start my own company and be my own boss.  Given my inherently creative side I knew that if I was going to start a company it would be fashion-oriented because it comes naturally to me.  I always have such a hard time finding shoes that fit well, are comfortable and hold-up to the taxing NYC streets.  My style is generally preppy so I am of course a huge fan of crests (along with Daria) and while we would easily see them on blazers, we didn’t really see them on many shoes.  There were a few here and there over the years, but the smoking slippers we saw were either $60 and not great quality or $450 european-made, but still not durable enough to stand up to city streets.  This lack of what we were looking for in a shoe coupled with my desire to start a company led me to Hubbell HIlle.

Daria: I love that Hubbell Hille allows us to take what motivates and inspires us and channel that into something that is uniquely ours.  We drew inspiration from everything that impacts our daily lives; the desire for a comfortable, stylish shoe, the excitement of starting a business and turning our shared ‘passion for fashion’ into a reality.  It doesn’t hurt either to have your sister as your business partner.

Fun fact: The name Hubbell Hille came from Deanna’s obsession with The Way We Were and one of the main characters played by Robert Redford.

4. Starting a company with your sister must be exciting, how do you delegate who does what in the company?
Deanna: Though I am four years younger, I have a pretty aggressive personality and usually take the lead on things, however I always consult my sister along the way.  She’s very diligent and organized so I know I can count on her to make sure we’re hitting any deadlines.  We have a very ying-yang balance to our personalities so it works.

Daria: It’s great having a business partner that you can share clothes with!  I think it helped foster our personal style.  As the middle child of two very strong personalities, I have always been the most subdued of the three of us.  This carries over to Hubbell Hille and like Deanna said, it works.  She generally takes the lead on most things and I know exactly what I need to do to play my part.  We always consult with one another, especially when it comes to a design decision.  I’m typically very indecisive though, so she usually makes the final call.

Boss Lady: Hubbell Hille

5. What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Deanna: Being that we’re in the early stages of our company, and doing this mostly at night and weekends, social media has been very effective for us.  It’s the quickest, cheapest way to reach a broad audience and start building brand awareness.  We spend most nights reaching out to various bloggers/journalists/stylists across the country to work with them in promoting Hubbell Hille.  Most of them are very receptive and super helpful!

Daria: Good old fashioned word of mouth is always helpful too.  Just having our friends, family and co-workers wear our Hubblers has generated interest in the brand.

6. What advice would you give to other women in the industry that are trying to start their own line?
Deanna:  I’m sure my advice will be more credible when Hubbell Hille has $20m in annual sales, but my advice would be (and I think this applies to many areas of your life) to just do it!  Don’t overthink it or else you will just come up with many reasons of why it’s not possible, not smart, not easy, etc.  We are now in a time, I think, when it has never been easier to start a brand, between the internet and social media, so give it a shot.  Stop thinking and start doing.

Daria: Start small and don’t expect to be an overnight success.  Prior to establishing Hubbell Hille, Deanna became an overnight expert in all things small business related.  She didn’t wait for someone to give her the answers or show her the way, she found it herself!  Don’t let anyone deter you from pursuing your dream, but be smart and do your homework so you know exactly what’s entailed.

7. Where do you hope to see Hubbell Hille in 5+ years?
Deanna/Daria: We would love to see Hubbell Hille surpass $2m in annual sales, have an expanded product line beyond our “Hubbler” style and have pop-up shops in Nantucket, Palm Beach, New York and Spring Lake, NJ (our beach town).  We also would like to see a portion of our annual revenue going towards a charity of our choice (which we’re working on!) as we think it’s very important to give back to the causes you are passionate about.

8. Who is a #bosslady that inspires you?
Deanna: Any woman who proves that you can have it “all”, whatever your definition of all is.  That working, learning, having a family, being engaged with your community, etc. are all possible to balance.  If I had to pick a specific example, the founders at Tuckernuck inspire me.  I came across an interview with one of the Co-Founders years ago and have been following them ever since.  It’s three young women with very impressive backgrounds and they have built an amazing company over the past few years…their vision and marketing is genius!

Daria: Coming from an education background and currently working in an all-female firm, I’ve had the opportunity to work and interact with women from all walks of life.  It’s the everyday woman that inspires me.  The mom, the professional, the young struggling to start their career and the seasoned veterans who just won’t quit.  My current boss is a mother of three who took her experience from a 20+ year career and started her own firm that has continued to thrive.  She is a female powerhouse!

Boss Lady: Hubbell Hille

More on Hubbell Hille:
Facebook | Instagram | Website

 

 

FacebookTwitterPinterest

International Women’s Day

“After a hugely successful women’s march, this International Women’s Day is more important than ever! The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. That’s way too long! We need to keep the momentum going and #BeBoldForAChange. Visit internationalwomensday.com to find out more!”
Lauren Golt, owner and founder of Social Stylate

We have had the pleasure of interviewing countless inspiring women in business over the years. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we gathered some of our favorite quotes from past Boss Ladies, dating all the way back to our first interview in 2013, as they share advice, insight, and inspiration for women in business.

Social Stylate

“Just put something out there and get started. No amount of research can fully prepare you for what it’s like to run a business — you learn by figuring out the problems and creating solutions as you go along.”
-Lisa Butler

“Be ready to put in a ton of hours for your passion, listen to your heart and continue with persistence. Create for you and practice, practice, practice. The best form of learning for me was to just experiment without fear. Go ahead and make mistakes and never be afraid to grow and learn new tecniques.”
-Leigh Viner

“Whatever endeavor you choose to set out on, make sure it’s something that really resonates with you and that you truly, 100% love. Because if you love it, chances are you will dedicate a lot of time and focus on it, which is necessary for any entrepreneur to be successful.”
-Beeta Hashempour

“Get organized, make a plan and don’t look back!”
-Dabney Lee Woglom

“Being an employee will be a short lived experience as long as you keep that inner fire going towards doing what you truly love. ​Believe that the universe is willing to embrace and support what you desire as long as you are willing to do your part.”
-Stephanie Surtida

“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.”
-Lauren Secchi

“Be patient with yourself and give yourself time to learn new things. Love what you do. Take the leap.”
-Evelyn Henson

“Women—especially in this field, need to have confidence in themselves and their abilities. I think women are still afraid to voice their opinions or ideas, and that needs to stop!”
-Danielle Bouchat Friedman

“You have to start somewhere. Starting small is okay! But just START! Dive in headfirst. Lose yourself a little. Dare yourself, and start believing in your own potential.”
-Eileen Hearn

“You need to be able to roll with the tide. You throw twenty ideas out there and if one sticks it’s a success.”
-Maureen Petrosky

 

Save

FacebookTwitterPinterest

Boss Lady: Natalie Holst

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Natalie Holst, founder and creative director for the New York based jewelry line Holst + Lee. Natalie shares with us the uniqueness of her latest collection, her inspiration for creativity and her advice for those wanting to thrive as an entrepreneur.  

natalie profile

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
Well, I’m originally from the South and moved to NY 14 years ago. I worked in Fashion for many years (Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler to name a few) and I was a maitre’d at some of NY’s trendiest restaurants. I used to have to get dressed up every night for work and I started making statement jewelry to accent my outfits. People responded and would try to buy things right off my neck and HOLST + LEE was born.

2. What prompted you to start your own jewelry line?
The response from people was what really got the ball rolling but Mara Hoffman gave me my first shot on the runway, styled with her collection. That’s when I went full steam ahead with the line and started selling in stores.

3. Tell us about your latest collection. Is there a story behind it?
Yes! I’m obsessed with my current collection because it really speaks to my soul. I wanted to hark back to the defining things that make HOLST + LEE what it really is. The current collection is called Color World and it is a celebration of vibrancy and strength. I was pregnant when I was designing it and I think it has a strong sense of optimism and passion. Something maybe we all need in these tumultuous times.

4. Describe a typical work day.
Well, I am a new Mom with a 6 month old so days have certainly changed in the recent months! I recently moved my studio into the bottom floor of my Brooklyn home. It’s such a great thing to be able to work out of my house. My day starts around 9 AM and the first part of the day is logistics (emails, bills, organizing…you know the fun stuff :)) Then my assistants get in around 11 and we go from there. They work on making orders and I work on designing or doing more business related things. My son hangs in the office and plays while we work and takes naps in between. Thank God for naps :).

5. What is the best part about being your own boss? The worst part?
I think the best part of being your own boss is to know that you get to do the thing that you love. It’s such a treat to be able to be creative everyday. I think if I didn’t have that I would go a little crazy. I’ve been making things since as far back as I can remember. It really fills my soul. I also love that I can have a flexible schedule.
I think probably the worst part is the stress of staying on top of everything. There are a lot of nights where I wake up in the middle of the night and I’m making lists in my head about what has to be accomplished and by when. I mean I think all women do that actually but it’s different when you’re itemizing your taxes in your sleep.

Natalie Holst

6. What is your brand’s most successful form of marketing?
I would definitely say Social Media and word of mouth. Social Media has really changed the whole game. It’s a great thing to be able to communicate to the world through an app and to tell visual stories.

7. Who would you love to see wearing your jewelry?
I’ve had the privilege of seeing some really amazing women wear my jewelry. Some highlights were Solange Knowles, Vanessa Hudgens, and Mary J. Blige to name a few. I would love to see anyone who is confident and feels amazing in my jewelry, but while I’m dreaming I’ll go with Iris Apfel!!!

8. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Oh wow, so many things. I draw inspiration from art, fashion, travel, and popular culture to name a few. I’ve always got my eyes open looking for inspiration.I studied Art and Art History in College and I’m still a painter (when I have the time) and I feel like my jewelry speaks to the painter in me with the use of color and unexpected materials.

9. Who is a Boss Lady that you admire and why?
I think I admire any woman who is out there being a Boss. Women are so important. I became a mom this year like I said and that experience really made me realize that awesome power women have. You definitely don’t have to have a child to obtain that, but it was very empowering to see exactly what a woman is capable of. I think women who are able to “give birth” to their dreams and seek out a way to run a business speaks to that awe inspiring power. If we’re talking about specifics though I’m gonna throw it back to my girl Iris Apfel. She has lived such an amazing life and was able to curate such a cool and confident existence. And to be hitting her stride in her 90’s is just unbelievable.

10. What advice do you have for anyone wanted to go from employee to entrepreneur?​
I think the best advice I ever got was, “get as much advice as possible from everywhere.”  It’s then up to you to take what you’ve learned and apply it or don’t apply it. I ask questions constantly when I know someone has information to offer. Also, I would say to anyone starting a business, never give up. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to take everything you have. Sometimes it will be tough, sometimes it will be great. it is not linear. It is a struggle. But if you want it enough, you have to work hard to achieve it.

Natalie Holst

More on Natalie and Holst + Lee Jewelry:
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website

FacebookTwitterPinterest

Boss Lady: Samantha Hahn

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Samantha Hahn, a New York-based illustrator, author and the creative director for an amazing new book box subscription company called quarterlane. Samantha takes us through the daily hustle of playing many roles in this industry and shares with us her passion for success. 

Samantha Hahn
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career. 
I’m a Brooklyn based creative director, illustrator and author. I work with a range of clients such as: quarterlane, the Paris Review, Vogue Japan, Lela Rose, Marie Claire, Chronicle Books and Apartment Therapy.

2. What is a typical work day like for you?
It really varies. I often have a couple of illustration projects going at once and I’m creative director at quarterlane so I’m often sending off interview questions to authors, planning lifestyle photoshoots or having plotting and planning sessions with founder Elizabeth Lane about our upcoming season.

3.  Can you explain your involvement with quarterlane books and how you got involved? 
I came on shortly before the launch to do some illustrations. I wound up really connecting with Elizabeth the founder, who is the amazing book curator as well. I wound up advising on the site and brand visuals and staying on as creative director along with Courtney Peterson. I spearheaded the launch of an editorial sister site called The Edit where we conduct author interviews, lifestyle features, book reviews and where we simply celebrate our love of reading and reading culture. It’s honestly the most fun project I’ve had in a long time. I really love collaborating with Elizabeth and being part of such a brilliant brand as it rapidly grows. My role has become nebulous. It’s not just simply visuals. If I have an idea I pitch it. We have a really natural, humanistic and organic way of working together which I love.

Samantha Hahn- quarterlanebooks
4. Out of all of the hats you wear, whether it be illustrating, publishing, writing, etc. what is your favorite role? 
That’s a hard question and it varies from day to day depending on what I’m working on. Sometimes at the start of fashion week I’m so excited to illustrate shows but by the end I want to use a different part of my brain, so working on quarterlane feels like heaven. Then a publisher will reach out with an amazing project to create a set of notecards for The Smithsonian of famous gems and I’m all excited to put my brush to the paper again. I love coming up with concepts for lookbooks and have recently had the pleasure of creative directing some for people whose work I’ve long admired. My main passion is collaborating with people and companies I admire. At the end of the day, that’s what I thrive on.

5.  What social media platform has been your biggest form of success for marketing yourself and quarterlane books? 
For myself I would say Instagram. I don’t have a ton of followers but my quality of followers is good. A lot of editors and art directors and brands I work with follow me there so it’s a nice way to showcase what I’m working on or what’s come to fruition. I run quarterlane’s Pinterest which is still pretty new but is growing all the time.  I love curating images that speak to the visual mood and tone of quarterlane. The Edit is my main focus though. There’s an endlessly fascinating stream of people and books to showcase and it’s just thrilling.

6. When it comes to building a brand, what is an important lesson that you have learned? 
I think having a clear vision of who you are speaking to is essential. It can be a group of people but picture the brand as a lecture that you are sending a flyer out about and see who would file into the auditorium to listen. That’s your audience.

Samantha Hahn

7. Your illustrations are beautiful and full of variety, is there a specific subject that you enjoy drawing the most?
I love painting the female form. I do this mainly through fashion illustration. It’s just an opportunity to celebrate movement, gesture, texture and color.

8. Are you currently working on any of your own books at the moment to publish? 
Gosh no! I did 2 and that’s enough for me at least for the foreseeable future. Doing a book takes tremendous bandwidth and emotional, intellectual and creative energy. As aforementioned I thrive on collaborating and doing a variety of projects and I feel being the sole author of a book just sucks too much out of me and isn’t the platform I’m most excited about. I’m happy to do other people’s book covers though and who knows, maybe someday I will get an idea that I just can’t imagine not publishing. It could happen but not for a couple of years at at least. I’m still recovering from my last book.

9. Who is a Boss Lady that inspires you?
Christene Barberich, global EIC of Refinery 29.

Behind the Boss Lady: Samantha Hahn’s Mood Board
Samantha Hahn

More on Samantha:
Instagram | Facebook | Website 

FacebookTwitterPinterest