Boss Lady: Erika Dawkins

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we talk to Erika Dawson. Erika is the owner of Bon Ton Studio, a collection of thoughtfully curated designs, wovens, and cozy goods from artisans around the world.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.

A California native and fashion school graduate, I lived overseas in Australia for six years with my South African husband prior to opening our first brick & mortar. Whilst abroad I was introduced to a friend and together we created a women’s clothing label, ANIKA. Years later I acquired the business, rebranded as Bon Ton Studio and moved back to my hometown of Healdsburg in Northern California. My career has evolved as much as I have personally. It is fun (and sometimes comical) to think about everything I’ve done and worked on.

2. What prompted you to start Bon Ton Studio?

Bon Ton Studio was the result of hitting the reset button on ANIKA. After having a clothing label known for our simple designs for everyday basics, I was ready to make the pivot from the wardrobe to the home. The concept of Bon Ton Studio quickly evolved and we still sell ANIKA in-store.

3. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?

Naturally, I’m a really observant person. There is a quote by Grace Coddington in The September Issue, where she is sitting in a taxi and says: “Always keep your eyes open… keep watching, because whatever you see out the window, or wherever, can inspire you.” Simply put, there is so much that inspires me. Sometimes it’s being on a treasure hunt at my local antique store, and other times its scrolling Pinterest, makers markets, coffee table books, or traveling. There’s always something, just keep your eyes open!

4. How do you discover and choose the artisans you work with and feature?

Items curated for Bon Ton Studio come from our travels and living abroad. We’ve been fortunate enough to have met a few artisans along the way and some we were introduced to. Our relationship is more than a simple B2B transaction. We give back to each other in a way that creates a mutually beneficial connection.

5. Describe a challenge you faced in the workplace and how you overcame it.

When you are in business for yourself, it is inevitable that you will face challenges, or roadblocks I like to call them. As I’ve grown older I’ve learned not to stress over the small stuff and have become very solution-oriented. I’m good at “fixing” things and I see myself as a problem solver. Back in October, one week before we were set to open our first brick & mortar, our entire town was evacuated due to the Kincade Fire. I had to pack up my entire home and store not knowing whether or not we would have a home and business to return to. Once we were evacuated we knew there wasn’t a lot we could do except waiting. As a business owner, it’s important to have everything in order from your bookkeeping to insurance and everything in-between. During the evacuation, I found peace of mind knowing I had everything organized in case something did happen.

6. What are the marketing similarities/differences you’ve found between owning an online store and opening your brick and mortar shop (which looks incredibly cozy!)?

Our marketing efforts for our social channels have stayed fairly the same. It is easier since we can direct followers to both our brick & mortar and online store. Differences we have noticed is our customer retention, in-person, and word-of-mouth marketing. It’s had an invaluable impact on our brand and we are focusing a lot of marketing efforts in this category in 2020.

7. What do you see for Bon Ton Studio’s future? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

Our first month of being open we hosted three pop-ups at the store and will continue to host smaller brands in 2020. We are flirting with the idea of taking Bon Ton Studio on the road, maybe destination pop-ups or something overseas. Watch this space!

8. Who is a Boss Lady who inspires you and why?

There are so many women I could list. I gravitate towards female-owned/led businesses that are doing something big, valuable and meaningful. Specifically, Erin Gore of Garden Society, Christy Baird of LOHO Bride and Helena Price Hambrecht of Haus.

Just for fun!
This is how I feel about Christmas music: Totally into it. We love the Elf soundtrack at our house during the holidays!
Favorite activity to do to relax: I enjoy working out, playing with my 14-month-old daughter, enjoying a home-cooked meal with my husband and of course traveling. Something you may not know about me is: I’m an “extroverted” introvert!
How I take my coffee/tea: At home, I do a stovetop percolator coffee for my husband and I. When I’m out and ordering in a coffee shop, it’s typically a latte with oat milk.
Currently binge-watching: I just finished season three of Marvelous Mrs Maisel. The costumer designer, Donna Zakowska, has done an amazing job throughout the series. I’m (obviously) a huge fan!

For more on Erika
Website | Instagram | Facebook

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Morning Reads: Sites and Newsletters to Start the Day

Morning Reads: Sites and Newsletters to Start the Day - Social Stylate

Where do you get your morning news? From political debates to humanitarian crises, to the newest technological advances, staying up-to-date on current events should count as a fulltime job. The news changes fast and it changes often, it’s important to our team that we foster a well-rounded outlook and stay current on as much as possible, using only reliable and honest sources, all while maintaining a sense of hope and humor.

These are our favorite morning reads that help keep us informed.


Tech Crunch
For stories about up and coming medical technology, Silicon Valley’s latest news, and all things app related. We love knowing what’s happening in the tech world since most of this stuff affects us on a daily basis and we’d like to be the first to know when our robot vacuum can start running errands outside the home.


The Good Stuff
Every day should begin with a smile. The Good Stuff, a CNN newsletter, features uplifting stories, inspiring events, and heartwarming tales. Because who doesn’t love videos of watching an adorable deaf baby’s reaction when her hearing aids are put on every day? Spoiler Alert: All stories are happy and you might cry a little.


The Newsette
Featuring wellness advice, lifestyle tips, and career inspiration all in a bright and bubbly format. We learn how to streamline our own morning routines while reading about the routines of powerful women in all sorts of industries. It’s confidence-boosting and makes us want to binge true crime podcasts on the way to work!


The Skimm
A condensed newspaper delivered straight to your email, The Skimm teaches us how to be adults in a fun, light, and informative way. The material is easy to read and feels like it was written by our best friend who somehow keeps up-to-date on everything…and then gives us the Cliff Notes with corresponding links.


BBC News
Our go-to international news outlet, BBC features a well-rounded collection of articles in a wide range of global topics including work-life, culture, and business stories. We can learn where in the world the best dumplings are made, the latest in climate change science, and what’s happening with technological advances in space.


Broadsheet
Articles curated for powerful women and about powerful women, Fortune’s daily newsletter solely focuses on influential women in the world, their stories, and their achievements. If that’s not empowering for this female-founded company, we don’t know what is.


Billy Penn
Knowing what’s happening in our own backyards is equally as important as staying informed on international issues, and that’s where Billy Penn comes in. Philadelphia’s local news source, we look to them for reliable and relevant stories close to home.


Cheddar Need2Know
We love Cheddar. The cheese, the news, we love it all, especially when we’re on the go. We turn on Need2Know videos when we’ve got our hands full or would rather watch our news than read it, and we listen along as we’re checking in on clients, both driving around and on the train to the city. From topics like the latest opinions on the upcoming last Star Wars film to predictions of corporate mergers and acquisitions in 2020, we know we’re gathering important intel.


5 Things
Life gets busy, so we’re loving this streamlined version of the news. The efficient and trustworthy information from CNN’s 5 Things is the perfect way to start our day. With 5 stories in 5 minutes, we get the important news while still sticking to our morning agenda.


The Hollywood Reporter
Seen any good movies lately? This is a common question around the Social Stylate team. We love shows and movies across many genres, so it’s natural for us to regularly check in with the happenings of the entertainment world. And yes, we attend Oscar viewing parties, as if you needed to ask.


The New York Times Morning Briefing
An informative summary of the day’s news, this snapshot (with links to more in-depth info) of important topics is sent directly to our inboxes each morning. We learn about what’s happening now in politics, new recipes, and what the top comedians are saying about it all.

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Boss Lady: Jonna Piira and Lauren Fiske

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we talk to CEO and Founder Jonna Piira and Director of Brand Partnerships Lauren Fiske of Kali, an organic feminine care subscription service that focuses on women’s overall health and wellness. “We are spreading awareness of the benefits of using organic feminine hygiene products and building a wellness community… [with] a forum to find information and learn about what’s going on in the world of wellness.”

1. Tell us a bit about yourselves and your careers.

Jonna: As Founder and CEO of Kali, an organic tampon and pad subscription service, I spearhead the company’s business development and strategic planning activities. My background started in finance in the medical diagnostics sector after getting my MBA and continued on into the tool and frozen foods industries. I have a passion for educating individuals about what they put into their bodies and helping people rethink their periods.

Lauren: My background is actually in Fashion Merchandising. I got my degree from Florida State and began working for Ralph Lauren after college. I ended up living in NYC and overseeing visual displays for the country until I left about three years ago after my son was born. This has been a whole new world for me but I have always had a love for beauty/wellness products and strongly believe in organic period care.

2. Jonna, what prompted you to start Kali and provide organic feminine care options to women?

I was going through my own wellness journey and realized that I had no idea what was in my period care. I started to do a lot of research and was shocked by what I found. I started to wonder how many other people out there didn’t know what was in their tampons and pads. Kali was born.

3. Lauren, as Director of Brand Partnerships what does your day usually look like?

A typical day for me includes a lot of time on Instagram lol. In addition to my marketing responsibilities I also manage social media. I will post content on our feed and stories throughout the day. I also find potential brand partnerships through Instagram so I will seek them out or find people based on our comments or likes. I spend a good amount of time corresponding with brands via e-mail or phone calls to organize giveaways, inbox partnerships, or events.

4. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?

We are inspired by educating people about what is in their period care and making better choices. We also love helping people add self-care into their daily lives. Bringing wellness full cycle and adding wellness into every aspect of your daily life is so important. There are so many amazing natural products that we want to share with our community.

5. Describe a challenge you faced in the workplace and how you overcame it.

We started out as very close friends and have been friends for years. Kali was growing and needed to expand. Lauren was a perfect fit to join the team. We transitioned to working together, which can have it’s potential challenges. However, with strong communication skills and building healthy boundaries, we have been able to do both without negatively impacting our long, close relationship.

6. What’s your most successful form of marketing?

Organic brand partnerships. We are able to reach a new audience in an authentic way with like-minded brands and communities.

7. Lauren, how do you find new brands to partner with and what do you look for? It’s such a great idea to put pampering products in the Lux boxes!

I totally agree! This is honestly one of the best parts of my job. I’m definitely a beauty junkie so it is really fun to discover and test out different brands. I use Instagram to find brands that share the same ethos as us. They need to be natural, organic and wellness-oriented. We love supporting female-founded businesses as well! I personally test every item… If we wouldn’t use or recommend it, we won’t suggest it to our community. There’s so much out there so we want to help people discover new brands and get trusted recommendations.

8. Jonna, what advice do you have for those looking to become an entrepreneur?

Don’t wait for the perfect moment to move forward on your idea. You just have to go for it. There are so many ways to start your research and build your idea while you are still working for someone else. Also, sometimes the most important thing to remember during the tough times…is to not give up.

9. What do you see for Kali’s future? Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

We see Kali continuing to grow and expand to different product categories. We can’t share too much just yet, but we will share soon. Stay tuned.

10. Why is it important to give back to organizations such as I Support the Girls and Girl Up?

It’s important to give back to people in need. Some of the basic things we take for granted may not be available to everyone.

11. Who is a Boss Lady who inspires you and why?

Sara Blakely. She is very inspiring because she built a company from nothing to solve a problem in a very innovative way. She is always pushing herself out of her comfort zone and is continually investing in female-founded companies.

Just for fun!
Favorite breakfast food: Jonna:
I start my day with homemade celery juice, eggs, and coffee; Lauren: I know I should, but I don’t eat breakfast. Does coffee count?
Last song you listened to: Jonna: It Must Have Been Love (Roxette); Lauren: Truth Hurts (Lizzo)
Current show you’re watching: Jonna: The Affair; Lauren: Gossip Girl
Next travel destination: Jonna: Finland, my home country, with my family; Lauren: Miami
The perfect Saturday includes: Jonna: an almond milk latte, a book, the gym or yoga, and brunch with friends; Lauren: Nothing (no child, no husband, no chores)

For more information on Kali: Instagram | Facebook

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Local Love: GoGo Books

Local Love: GoGo Books, Kid's book truck in Wilmington, Delaware - Social Stylate

There are food trucks and fashion trucks, but did you hear about our local storybook truck?

GoGo Books is a Delaware-based mobile story book shop that offers a curated selection of children’s literature ranging from classic storybooks to teen novels amid thoughtfully crafted children’s-wares. Their goal is to create a novel experience focused on the joys of story-telling with a touch of whimsy and charm. Below we chat with Kate Keeper, the owner and founder of GoGo Books.

1. Why do you love what you do?
So many reasons! Books, illustrations, and stories have always encouraged me to live my life in the most magical and fantastical way possible. I love what I do because I am constantly reminded of that magic every day by being surrounded by those things. I also love “setting things up” and aesthetics so operating a store where everything needs to be arranged and merchandised constantly is just supremely satisfying. I also enjoy having complete control over my time, work ethic, and (for the most part) outcomes/income generation, it holds me accountable and fulfills me in ways that being an employee never did. I love all of the various opportunities to get creative and innovative. The discounted books are a definite plus. But most of all the people/socializing and getting out in the community and meeting kids and caregivers from all over with varying interests is just so life-giving and joyful!

2. What is the most rewarding about being the founder of GoGo Books?
I’m still so new so I don’t feel like I have reaped any typically “rewarding” things yet! My ego definitely enjoys the “ohhhs” + “ahhs” when people find out that this is my business + that I created and operate it at 27 (debt free!!) but really the most rewarding thing is the ability to work for myself entirely and know that my successes are all mine (and the failures too)!

3. Describe your favorite memory from GoGo Books.
Again, still very new so everything feels very present day and in the moment + nothing really feels like a memory yet. I think so far though I have had a few times when I’m driving to an event and just start crying/laughing (somewhat maniacally) about how this is all happening. I love that feeling of just disbelief that this is my job.

4. How did people react to you leaving nursing to start the GoGo Book truck?
Very mixed. I think most people thought it was absolutely absurd. Nursing was my third degree; I went back to school for it after graduating with a double major (English + Bio), so I sort of felt like people thought I was abusing the privilege of having the opportunity to get higher education (twice). Luckily I have learned that other people’s reactions are ultimately about them and not me, so I didn’t really concern myself with them. My husband and mom were really supportive and my workplace (The Birth Center) was as well.

5. Do you get invited to come to schools to sell books? Where are your usual stops?
I launched at the end of the school year so I pretty much missed that boat. I did do an event with Ursuline Academy and it was a smashing success and the kids/caregivers/teachers were all amazing to work with. I hope to do more schools in the fall. I don’t have any usual stops yet. This year is all about trial and error so I can figure out what works and what doesn’t. I’m already learning where I do best and where I flop so taking all of that into account and evaluating it is helping me to plan future events. I really want to get into collaborations with local businesses like coffee shops/lunch spots/etc. to pair up for weekday stops. I’m really into planning programming like storytimes/crafts/process art/sing-a-longs but need space for those. I bring a lot of people out, so it’s really a matter of finding a mutually interested business who wants to pair up.

Local Love: GoGo Books, Kid's book truck in Wilmington, Delaware - Social Stylate

6. What ignites your creativity?
I actually really struggle with this. I have a horrible complex where I have to be “in the mood” to do things that I’m trying to better understand and ultimately overcome. Usually getting outside and just experiencing life fires me up. The further I distance myself from the internet/my phone the more creative I feel as well.

7. How do you decide what books to bring into the truck?
Painstakingly! I pored over catalogs from publishers/read reviews/and did a lot of judging by the cover. There are thousands of books published every week in addition to the “backlists” of thousands of previously published titles. It took me about 6 months to fully curate my initial stock. Since then I have been keeping ongoing order lists for newly published titles that I update weekly which keeps it relatively simple for reorders. The best compliments I get are the ones regarding the curation and uniqueness of my stock!

8. What was the first book you remember being read to you and by who?
I don’t really remember the first book that was read to me. But my first memory of a story was this story my dad would tell about Winnie the Witch who (in the story) lived in the woods across the street. She would invite all of the kids over on Halloween and make us pumpkin juice in her cauldron and make all of our candy fly and swirl around. I was obsessed and would make him tell it every day. My first bookish memory though was that my mom and I would read the Jolly Postman by Janet and Allen Ahlberg.

9. What was your all-time favorite book as a child?
Wowwww. So hard to answer. Probably Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

10. What do you want to see happen in the future for GoGo Books?
My main goal, for now, is to collaborate with local businesses to get some regular hours like I mentioned above. Ideally, I would get out of the weekend event circuit and start operating more like a regular retail store with set hours, just one that is in a different location every day. I have had a lot of requests for franchising so eventually could look into that. I’d love to take a booktruck road trip one day and see how it does in other cities/states!

11. What do you enjoy doing in your free time:
Reading of course! Getting outside, taking walks, doing random crafts and never cleaning up after them

12. Favorite genre to read:
Picture books, historical fiction.

For more on GoGo Books visit: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Click here to read about more of our favorite local loves!

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