Boss Lady: Hart Huguet Hagerty

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week, we chat with Hart Hagerty, the founder of HART, a jewelry line of “understated statement pieces.” (We’re obsessed with her tassel earrings!) All of Hart’s creations combine her love of Asian aesthetics and her bohemian side for the perfect everyday statement. Hart’s jewelry is the perfect finishing touch to any outfit!

Hart-BossLady-Social Stylate

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
After majoring in Chinese, I moved to Shanghai where I worked as lifestyle/fashion editor for a couple of years. I started my brand there on the side, and ended up putting it on the backburner when I moved to NYC after 5 years grinding it out China. I lasted only 1.5 years in NYC working for other companies… I really missed Charleston and working for myself! So I moved back home in August 2016 and the rest is history.

2. What prompted you to start HART?
My desire for independence (having my own work schedule), constant wanderlust (any excuse to travel the world), and creative expression. I also love the challenges of running my own business. There’s a learning opportunity at every corner.

3. Looking back is there anything you wish you knew before you launched?
I wish I had hired my assistant earlier. As soon as you can afford it, hire HELP. Don’t feel guilty about delegating — it will only free up time and energy for you to further grow your business.

4. Describe a challenge you faced, either as a designer or a business owner.
Navigating international tax law, import/export and trademarks hasn’t been easy. I can’t recommend highly enough to invest in the best lawyers and accountants you can find. They will save you money in the long run. I feel a lot of peace of mind knowing that super smart people are working on my business. That is priceless.

5. Where did the inspiration for your signature tassel earrings coming from?
Tassels are the perfect “everyday statement earring”. They exude bohemian chic, a sense of fun and are also timeless, classic and appeal to a wide array of people. I noticed a big gap in the market for well-made, lightweight and well-priced earrings. So I went for it!

6. What is HART’s most successful form of marketing?
My intern’s main role is essentially to send earrings to bloggers/influencers as gifts. They have really helped us spread the word! Possibly even more importantly though… I believe excellent customer service and good product has been our biggest generator of sales. A huge portion of our sales are repeat customers who love the brand and the quality of the earrings. You can market the magic all you want, but if you don’t treat your customers exceptionally well and create quality products, then you’re going to fail.

7. Who is a Boss Lady you admire and why?
On a local level, Deirdre Zahl of Candy Shop Vintage. Deirdre is incredibly generous with her advice, time and support. Nationally… Oprah. I love her message of mindfulness and prioritizing being a good person over being good at business. In short, don’t be a dick to others and be grateful for all the little wins along the way.

8. What advice do you have for those looking to go from employee to entrepreneur?
To quote Nike… “Just do it.” Start small. Start somewhere.

Just for fun…
Cocktail of choice: dirty gin martini
Best show to binge-watch: currently, Comedians in Cars getting coffee
Favorite thing about living in Charleston: biking or walking in my neighborhood downtown.
Describe your perfect Sunday: sleeping in late with my fiancé, a walk or surf on Folly followed by lunch at Taco Boy. And then evening tennis with my girlfriends at Colonial Lake!
Person you’d most like to see wearing your earrings: Alexa Chung (we just sent some to her! fingers crossed!)


More on HART
Instagram | Facebook | Shop


Boss Lady: Charlotte Carson and Laura Dobell

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week, we chat with Charlotte Carson and Laura Dobell, the founders of ClearLife, an ethical shop and publication that highlights and offers products, ideas, and services that connect customers with the environment they live in. “Our goal is to nurture bodies and spirits, to cultivate an inspired and sustainable lifestyle, without sacrificing taste.”

Boss Lady: Charlotte Carson and Laura Dobell of ClearLife - Social Stylate

Laura Dobell (left) and Charlotte Carson (right)

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

Charlotte: I grew up on the west coast in Vancouver and moved to Toronto, for work about 15 years ago. On the west coast I grew up in an environment where it is the norm to care about the environment and live a active and healthy lifestyle. I grew up surrounded by tree huggers, environmentalist and plant based eating was pretty common out there even back then. I studied dance, art, and music growing up and was surrounded by family and friends who were creative and also out actively involved in or marching for a cause. When I came out to Toronto after university, I worked as a prop, fashion stylist and a producer on advertising shoots and also as a style editor for 5 national magazines, until co-founding ClearLife. I guess I have really circled back to my youth where social issues, really mattered in my upbringing.

Laura: It’s always a long journey to think about where each of us started to where we are presently. I also grew up in Vancouver, in a family that was environmentally conscious. I remember Saturday mornings, if we weren’t skiing or camping, my father would take us to return recycling items. My father was environmentally conscious before it was a thing. Back in the 90’s, I remember taking canvas bags to the grocery store and returning milk bottles. When I moved to Toronto, I worked in the fashion industry for many years. After I had my son, I knew that long hours and travel-for-work were not for me. So I decided to re-think what role work had in my life. I started a small design firm, doing home staging and residential design. At first it was just myself, and over the years, the team grew to 5. It was a wonderful opportunity, to run my own business in way accommodated a healthy lifestyle balance, while collaborating with other talented designers.

The studio is in the process of closing down as I move onto this venture with Charlotte. I have always been interested in health and wellness. Two years ago, I completed hot yoga teacher training, and teach at a local studio. Just as I was making plants to close down the studio, and not sure what was next, Charlotte presented the idea of ClearLife. The concept resonated with me, and I decided to join her on this journey to bring the ClearLife vision to fruition.

2. What prompted you to start ClearLife?

Laura: I’ll leave this to Charlotte, as she founded ClearLife Magazine two years ago. I am a more recent addition to the team.

Charlotte: ClearLife was really an act of passion and love for wanting to live ethically. We wanted to do something that meant something to us. To spend our days learning and doing things that were really important to changing the world, even if this was just in a small way. We wanted to create or be a part of a movement for change.

The big question was – OK we know about global warming, The Paris Accord, all the bigger environmental issues – but what is going on on a micro level? What about the day to day, the minute to minute issues that are all the little decisions and options that happen in our day to day that collectively around the world lead to global warming and health issues that are real.

There was this keen interest in how we could take all of our years of knowledge, work, large network of collaborators, and turn it into something we truly cared about that had an impact on the world and was an opportunity to offer solutions in the world for our global citizens that most brands were not offering to them.

After many years working freelance on other brands projects we felt there was a larger narrative missing on a global level. We had a huge desire to tell a different kind of story and offer a different kind of brand that truly stood for something and was part of the solution and not contributing to the destruction of our planet and our health globally. It was clear no one really cared or understood what the consequences were to our health and the planet on most brands agendas. Once we really started exploring this there was no question we had to do this.

We did it for ourselves as much as others. We asked ok – if these brands don’t care about our health or the planet – then let’s find ones that do and bring this to the people. Let’s also tell the stories with our publication side, consumers want to know on how to change their habits and what is really going on with materials and products and offer them information and products with the end goal being to heal the planet and stop the destruction of the globe.

We wanted to be an example of how commerce can be for used for good. And we truly want to be a part of saving the planet.

3. As co-founders, how do you work together?

Charlotte: We have a really great synergy when working together that just works organically and very easily. We are both multitaskers, extremely positive and do-ers so we have just approached everything very naturally with a divide and conquer approach. We both hustle hard at whatever needs to be done and support each other and the team in a very natural way whenever anything needs to be done.

Laura: We each have different roles, but at the end of the day, we are a small, scrappy start up. We do whatever needs doing.

4. I am very passionate about the environment, so I love that you’re focused on sustainability. What does living a “ClearLife” mean to you?

Charlotte: It is about being a responsible global citizen – to the planet, yourself, and the people and wildlife in all of the choices you make in all of the moments that end up leading to the consequences of the bigger planet and life issues. It’s an understanding that every moment and choice counts and leads to a bigger picture.

It’s related to living a clean life including the food you eat, all the products you buy, what you put on your body and in it, and even the psychology and thoughts in your way of expressing yourself and existing with others.

It’s mind, body, spirit, choices, and the planet.

Laura: Living a ClearLife is being mindful and considerate while consuming (or choosing not to consume). In order to round that out, you’d need to understand what sustainability means to me. To me, sustainability is a way of meeting our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs as well. It’s more than just environmentalism. It’s social and economic awareness and concern. These are big concepts. So what does this look like, actually? On a day to day basis, it means walking my son to school rather than driving, buying locally sourced, organic food, supporting small businesses, choosing non-toxic bath, beauty, and cleaning products, and choosing clothing that will stand the test of time in tailoring and style. It means re-using before recycling, and recycling before landfill. It means opting for “refills” rather than buying a whole new container. It means taking my bins when I go shopping, rather than taking plastic bags. It’s teaching my son that every choice counts.

5. What were your biggest challenges when you started the company?

Charlotte: Well, like any brand that isn’t formed by a larger corporation, or without seed funds, or a trust fund to back us up – the biggest challenge was how do we take this lofty idea with no funds and make it into a brand that can stand up to any brand in the world and be just as compelling, developed in content, and appealing to consumers – without the budget attached. It was a huge undertaking and just as big of a question mark. And so we began with the things we had as our assets instead of funds to back us up.

When Clear Life was created we had many things on our side. We had all the top photographers, journalists, make-up artists, model agents, and brands that were willing to come on board and work with us and even photo studios that gave us space to shoot out of. We hustled like mad to get collaborations, and sponsors on board to help with areas that would help with anything that had a cost involved as we were truly working without budgets. We had huge support from high level creatives who trusted our vision, and believed in us so they gave us their time, talent, and support.

The challenge that came into play as we evolved was not the incredible support we had, or the exceptional content we were generating, or getting brands on board, it was we had way bigger dreams from the business side and the planning side than we had bodies or knowledge. We didn’t have that MBA on board so to speak. We were overloaded with the creative side and underloaded with a business team and working without the funds to move business related (not creative) plans forward and have a sales and marketing or fundraising team in place to accomplish the things we needed to do to get to where we were capable of getting with the support we had if we had a stronger business support.

So we became superb problem solvers and just started to study any area we needed information on to do it ourselves when we didn’t have budgets for this. And we continue to work this way and work towards the best results possible for what we have available to us.

The journey has been a huge learning curve, and really rewarding as well.

Laura: We are still there, starting and being challenged. We are challenged by big dreams and not enough time in the day. We are challenged by only knowing what we know, suspecting there are many things that we need to learn, and then that ever elusive space of not knowing what we don’t know.

6. How do you hope to see the company/brand evolve?

Charlotte: We are so passionate about the protection of the environment, mankind and wildlife. So in light of all the damage being done by man made products that are toxic and harming the planet we wanted to create a solution not just for ourselves but to be a part of the change in the world that needs to happen.

With both of us having a background in fashion and design we understand great design and have a very similar sense of visual style. But we wanted to take that from the superficial level of just the visual side to a loftier vision that included a vision that also has a mandate of understanding each decision counts that you make including what materials are in the products you use, the clothing you wear, the homes you live in and the items you fill your house with.

As people very keyed into the design, fashion and beauty areas – we recognized even with our access to virtually every brand available – that home and fashion products are very behind in their approach to the safety of our planet. And we decided if we have trouble finding this, then so do others, so we wanted to curate a place that had beautiful quality products without sacrificing your health or the planet.

Our plans is to be a global destination for ethical products and a community for information and sharing with a like minded global community.

Laura: We hope to see the brand become more than a brand. We want ClearLife to become a movement, across the world, bringing ideas and action together. Connecting people with the opportunity to make better choices.

7. Do you have plans to expand your e-commerce business?

Charlotte: Yes our e-commerce plans are big. We are working diligently at this time to create a new website with a team to grow into a beautifully curated marketplace for ethical home, fashion & beauty brands.

Laura: Yes. Absolutely. We will be collaborating with more brands in the future. Any product or brand that we collaborate with will have to meet a very specific set of criteria. We are working on a ClearLife rating system, which will be used to accurately describe any product in our marketplace. At a glance, a consumer will be able to know if a product is ethically sourced, made of natural materials, gluten free, chemical free etc. We are presently working on a re-vamped website, that should be more user friendly to navigate through.

8. What is your most successful form of marketing?

Charlotte: We have compelling stories and imagery we shoot ourselves that has captivated a growing audience of like minded individuals through our social channels.
We believe in and live the lifestyle we are promoting so our message is authentic and relatable to our audience.

Laura: Presently, all the great people we know in the industry, just spreading the word and pitching in to help out. We are active on social media as well. More marketing initiatives coming soon!

9. Is there anything you wish you knew prior to starting ClearLife?

Charlotte: Looking backwards is a position I don’t believe in -for me facing forward is the best and only position to be in. I guess really most entrepreneurs move with a lot of risk because they realize you can’t know everything going into anything or you just won’t do it.

Laura: This comes down to not knowing what you don’t know. Every day I learn something new, and wish I had known that thing before starting out.

10. What advice would you offer to other self-starters and those who hope to start their own business?

Charlotte: Start with a solid plan and a niche marketing idea. Surround yourself with a team that is capable, driven, and understands the work involved and will help drive the mission forward. Listen to and work with experts in the area you are pursuing. Network, learn, listen and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Laura: Just do it, but also start out as you intend to continue. Going back to re-do work is time consuming. Measure twice. Always measure twice.

For more information on ClearLife: Instagram | Facebook


Boss Lady: Trisha Okubo

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week, we chat with Trisha Okubo, the founder of Maison Miru jewelry, an online boutique based out of the West Village in New York City. Trisha believes jewelry is love made visible and Maison Miru’s pieces are all made by Trisha and with love.

Trisha Okubo - Maison Miru Jewelry - Boss Lady -Social Stylate

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
A career is like a play, with multiple acts. You have multiple storylines, characters large and small that can alter the trajectory of your path, and adventure awaits you at every crossroads, if you choose to accept it. Act One of my career was living a real (less glamorous, but not much less ridiculous) version of the HBO series Silicon Valley. I learned the ropes at digital media and e-commerce companies, in large and small in roles that spanned business development to product management to business operations. I grew up in Silicon Valley, a stone’s throw from Apple Computer, and technology dominates the culture so heavily that it seemed the natural thing to do after graduation. But while I liked what I did, I didn’t love it in the way I wanted to. After one particularly trying day, I unwound at Cafe Venetia, my favorite cafe on University Avenue in Palo Alto, with a pot of Ryokucha tea and a slice of chocolate crunch cake. I sketched out what I wanted my life to look like in 15 years: a time period where everything still seemed possible, but still time-bound in a reasonable way. It looked nothing like my current life, and in that moment, I knew I had to make a change. I ended up quitting my job for a “gap year” – and did all of the things I wanted to do in life. I travelled all around the world, took cooking classes (my soup dumpling game still needs work, alas), learned how to make shoes (I did a fashion design degree back in college, but I had never done accessories), and started learning how to make jewelry. I knew right away that I was on to something with jewelry. I usually flit from project to project (I’m told that I get bored very easily!), but I can wire in when I’m at a jewelry bench and work for hours on end. (This, by the way, is great for things like stone setting, but terrible for my back! I see my chiropractor so often that I count him as a friend.) . So when friends – and strangers – started coming up to me and asking where I got my jewelry, I took the plunge, opened up a little online boutique, and started Act Two of my career.

2. What prompted you to start Maison Miru?
The jewelry that I loved–elegant, delicate pieces that you can wear everyday–either existed in the luxury space (hello, solid gold and diamonds!) or at the low end of the market (aka the jewelry you can wear a few times before it tarnishes or breaks). What I wanted but couldn’t find out there was high quality jewelry that I could wear everyday at a price that was fair and affordable. Also, I have a bit of a confession: I’m a champion loser of jewelry. I love the look of delicate, tiny pieces, and I can tell you from experience that these are the easiest to lose. So it was super important to make sure that the pieces were affordable – so that if something happened to disappear at an onsen in Japan, or slipped off somewhere on the Paris metro, it wasn’t going to ruin the rest of my holiday!

Trisha Okubo - Maison Miru Jewelry - Boss Lady - Social Stylate

3. Did you find the transition from the tech industry to the jewelry industry to be challenging?
Surprisingly, I found the transition from working as a part of a large team toworking on my own to be a bigger challenge than transitioning industries. It turns out that a lot of the skills I had honed in Act One of my career – project management, designing customer experiences, and logistics/operations – all were relevant in my new life. There’s a ton that I had to learn from scratch – I had never done product development with physical goods, nor had I done any marketing, and despite my business undergrad degree, I’m not a bookkeeping whiz. Let’s just say that it’s amazing what you can learn on the Internet! But my confession is that I sometimes (and more often that you’d think) miss my cubicle life. At least at coffee o’clock, when I wish I had my work buddies around to go dish with.

4. How did you come up with the name, Maison Miru?
The word Miru in Japanese means “to seed” – and that’s what I hope Maison Miru does for you at a foundational level. Jewelry is love made visible, and it can open your eyes to the world, to love, and the good that’s out there….even in these trying times.

5. What is your most successful form of marketing?
Instagram has been amazing for Maison Miru, and that’s where most ladies hear about us. I know it’s a big leap to try a new brand, so I’m running a limited time promotion to get the word out about the Maison Miru Ear Bar – a pair of our signature Tiny Crystal Studs in Gold for the price of shipping. It’s an easy way to see and feel the quality of the earrings without a whole lot of risk. Also, the ladies I’ve met on Instagram have been so incredibly kind – maybe it’s just that jewelry people are good people, but they’ve been helping spread the word on their own – sisters share with their sisters, mothers gift their daughters, daughters buy for Mom, and brides have been spreading the word to their bridal party. I’ve been truly humbled by the love.

Trisha Okubo - Maison Miru Jewelry - Boss Lady - Social Stylate

6. Why do you aim for your partners to be either small, local, or businesses run by women?
I love collaborating with people who love to give it their all – people who go the extra mile to do beautiful work – and I find that businesses who are small, local or businesses run by women are more often my kind of people.

7. How do you ensure you’re getting the best version of your products out to your clients?
It’s about being rigorous every step of the way. I prototype and prototype to perfect the designs – the shape, the size, the weight, how each piece lays. And then I use high quality materials to make these designs a reality. One of my goals is to create affordable, beautiful jewelry safe for ladies with skin sensitivities, and I’ve iterated with my factory and my metal plater to systematically avoid metals (e.g. nickel) that commonly cause these sensitivities. I also personally do quality assurance before I place the jewelry into thick plastic baggies designed to preserve the longevity of the jewelry. I love doing good things and letting them speak for themselves.

Trisha Okubo - Maison Miru Jewelry - Boss Lady - Social Stylate

8. What personal and/or business goals have you set for 2018?
My list of 2018 goals is unrealistically long, and I’m told, somewhat nonsensical! At the top of my list is a somewhat non-specific goal of putting out more net good in the world. One of the random things I designed last year was a series of love notes – little cards with sayings like “I Believe in You and Pie”. I really just made them so I could send silly messages to my friends, but I started sending them out to customers, just for fun. And they’ve been sharing them with the ladies they love – BFFs, sisters, daughters, moms. I love that these notes helped bring people together for a smile – and I want to do more things like this in 2018. Another completely different goal is perfecting my chocolate game. I have wayyyyyy too many interests, one of which is making chocolate from bean to bar. Amongst all of the jewelry equipment in the apartment, I somehow also have a cocoa bean roaster, a grinder, and a melanger to make chocolate from scratch (and a very understanding husband!). I’m constantly trying to refine my roasting game and tweak the chocolate to be as delicious as possible. Does this also count as putting out more net good in the world?

9. What advice would you offer to other self-starters and those who hope to start their own business?
Stop hoping to start your own business: just start your business. Nobody ever feels ready to make the jump – but if entrepreneurship is for you, you’ll surprise yourself with how fast you’ll learn, and how creative you’ll be about solving problems and making things work. I prefer to live with no regrets, and by starting my own business, I never have to wonder about what might have been.

Just for Fun…
Best purchase you ever made: Most recently, the Everlane Cashmere Sweatpants. They’re so comfy and luxurious, and I wear them everywhere. I love them so much that I bought three pairs.
Favorite movie: I’m more of a series kind of gal, as I love the character development you get over time, and my all time favorite has to be The West Wing. I just think life would be better if everyone spoke as intelligently and as quickly as they do on an Aaron Sorkin show. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?
The perfect Saturday includes: Friends and family, tea and cake. And pie. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to also be locked in a room with a litter of kittens. (I volunteer at the shelter, so free snuggles for me!)
Best thing about living in NYC: I’m a night owl, so I love that NYC is the city that never sleeps. Turns out you don’t have to either, if you choose to accept the challenge! You can get 2am pizza (hello, Joe’s), and the fact that you can truly get anything delivered here has taught me the unfortunate (but delicious) lesson that pie can always come to you.
You’d jump for joy if you saw this person wearing Maison Miru: Joan Didion. I believe that jewelry is love made visible, and I also feel the same thing about her work. She has such a depth to her soul, and it’s that kind of energy that I would love to capture with my designs.

Trisha Okubo - Maison Miru Jewelry - Moodboard - Boss Lady -Social Stylate

For more on Trisha:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


Boss Lady: Dr. Francine Edwards

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week, we chat with Dr. Francine Edwards, an Associate Professor of Mass Communications at Delaware State University. Dr. Edwards began her career in the television industry covering news, entertainment, and sports, as well as producing award winning documentaries and co-hosting live shows on the Black Entertainment Television network. Next she moved to public affairs, launching several celebrity endorsed healthcare campaigns before moving towards her passion of teaching.


1) Having worked at BET for 11 years, what is the most valuable lesson you learned from your time there?
Robert Johnson, owner of BET, was probably the most empowering boss I’ve ever had. His advice to his employees was to step outside of your own box and to always be looking for the next opportunity. Mr. Johnson always said that he didn’t expect us to stay at BET and that when we moved on, what people in the industry would see in us is the work ethic, creativity and skills we learned from BET being put into action.

2) What has been the key to your success in the world of mass media?
I’ve always been willing to learn, be innovative and I know how to reinvent myself.

3) What challenges have you faced as a woman throughout your career?
In looking at the workforce as a whole, women of color face colorism (in my own experience what I mean is a light vs dark complexion issue because that was something I dealt with early in my career) and I also find that there is a thin line between being aggressive and commanding respect and being perceived as too forceful. I believe that I’ve broken down walls by finding that balance and being able to provide proof of my worth/value in my research, production ability, and that fact that I have had the opportunity to speak at conferences or serve in leadership roles within various organizations.

4) When did you realize teaching was a passion of yours?
I started graduate school several years after the BET show was canceled. I was in a world that was polar opposite of the corporate or government sector; supportive, engaging and I truly felt valued. I could see the impact that I was having on students and that’s when I realized my true passion and the greatest blessing was being able to continue my love for the media, just in a different way.

5) How did you approach the process of seeking out new professional opportunities?
My career just fell into my lap. After completing the Master’s program at Bowie State University, the faculty encouraged me to pursue the PhD and they provide so much support. Howard University was the ideal place for me to pursue the PhD as well and there I had excellent mentors.

6) Why did you decide to work in communications?
I can honestly say it was a life-long dream. I always wanted to be like Barabara Walters. I admired the fact that she was a groundbreaking female journalists who paved the way for so many women in media. As I got older I realized the power of the media and wanted to be someone who could educate through visual storytelling. My proudest moments are winning NAACP Imagr awards for documentary and production work, so looking back I can see the impact that I had as a journalist and producer.

7) Who inspires you?
So cliche but I have to say my mother. She was an engineer at NASA who went back to school after having a family and supporting our dad with his educational aspirations. She worked in a very male dominated world but worked hard in her union to fight for equal rights for women in the workplace. She also made it a priority to balance her career and family and never once let us down.

8) What gets you up in the morning?
Knowing that my kids look up to me and expect me to be an example and source of encouragement for them.

9) What would you tell other women looking to kick off a career in communications/media?
The truth! Today’s broadcast world or media landscape is not what it used to be! What are you going to do to set yourself apart from the next citizen journalist/producer and those who are trained in the craft? You can’t make excuses and you have to find work-arounds to any problem that may present itself to you. And lastly, think quickly on your feet or you will miss the story.

10) What do you enjoy the most about your position at Delaware State University?
Everyday I get to make a difference in the life of a young person who may otherwise not have a chance or an adult to listen to them and take them seriously. This is a space where we are supposed to encourage students to be exploratory and accept both the challenges and victories and my job is to support them through both so that in four years they are ready for career success.

Read more Boss Lady interviews here.