Four Threads

#Girlboss

#GIRLBOSS: AILLEA Owner, Kathryn Murray Dickinson

BeautyVeronica ArrietaComment
Kathryn Headshot 1.jpg

I'm excited to introduce you to this week's #GirlBoss, Kathryn Murray Dickinson Dean, owner of AILLEA. AILLEA is a clean beauty haven with stores in Atlanta, Denver, Raleigh and Charleston. Kathryn started AILLEA because she was trying to clean up her own beauty routine and was disheartened with the lack of performance in many products and the amount of greenwashing. It took her 3 months and $150 to find a great shampoo that was truly clean. She realized that nobody has the time and energy to finding clean products. 

Here is what Kathryn had to say ...

AILLEA, clean beauty

Name: Kathryn Murray Dickinson

Current Title/Company: Owner AILLEA

Education: BA Dartmouth, MBA Columbia Business School

What was your first job out of college? Working at Merrill Lynch. It was a wonderful experience but helped me realize that I did not want to work in finance. That helped lead me to beauty where I spent most of my career.

Tell us more about AILLEA. AILLEA is a clean beauty boutique.  We have ~50 brands of makeup, skincare, haircare, fragrance, bath and body and more.  All of the products are free of sulfates, phthalates, parabens, petrochemicals or other endocrine disruptors. We have over 1300 banned ingredients.

What inspired you to start your own company? Several years ago I had developed severe late in life allergies. In trying to clean up my own beauty routine. I was so disheartened with the lack of performance in many products and the amount of greenwashing. It took me 3 months and $150 to find a great shampoo that was truly clean. I realized that nobody has the time and energy I was putting in to finding products. With a background in beauty where I have worked with the biggest retailers in the country, I knew I could help bring this to other women.

What advice would you give others thinking about starting their own business? It is 10x more work than you expect, it takes twice as long to build and is 100x more rewarding than you expect. 

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What was your biggest fear in starting your own business? Would everyone else be as passionate about clean beauty as I am? I think the tides are shifting in that direction, but when I first started it was not as prevalent.

Why is non-toxic beauty so important to you? Have you always been interested in it? I have always been interested in beauty, but only after I was having health issues did I really focus on clean beauty. The more I learned and the more I researched, the more passionate I became about lifting the veil on ingredients and their impacts. I don’t like to speak from a place of fear - but we need to be aware that breast cancer rates for women have gone from 1 in 20 to 1 in 8, over 90% of breast cancer tumors had parabens in them, childhood cancers are on the rise. 

Are there any ingredients in beauty and skincare products that we should be avoiding? Yes! There are the big ones that everyone knows about - Sulfates, Phthalates, Parabens. But there are others that are a bit sneakier. The ingredient “Fragrance" can disguise HUNDREDS of ingredients. Because it is considered trade secret, brands are not required to disclose what makes up that ingredient. Synthetic sunscreens are another big one, it usually shows up as oxybenzone, octisalate or octinoxate. 

Do you have any products would you recommend for Winter and Summer, as I know our skin takes a beating. 
Maya Chia’s ‘The Super Blend’ Pressed Serum Brightening Moisture Concentrate really offers it all - MAJOR hydration, anti-aging, and skin brightening. 

If you could pick four products that you couldn’t live without, what would they be? Agent Nateur deodorant, Indie Lee Squalane Oil, Rahua Shampoo & Conditioner, Lily Lolo Mascara.

What does a typical day look like for you? It changes EVERY day which I love. Some days I am in the store with the team, some days I am on the road for events, and some days I am at a Starbucks working on paying bills, returning emails and planning our expansion.

What’s your most proud moment since launching AILLEA? Being named by Well+Good as one of the top beauty retailers in the country and being named to the Goop city guide were 2 big ones for me. To receive that level of national recognition for a small boutique is really validating. 

What advice would you give to your younger self? I wish I had started taking better care of myself earlier. I wish it wasn’t health issues that had driven me to seek out the clean products. Although that was a gift in itself as it helped me start AILLEA.

If you could have drinks with four women who would it be? Oprah Winfrey, Jane Goodall, Kris Jenner and Vera Wang.

What’s next for AILLEA? Any collaborations? Stores we can find you in? We are opening stores this winter/spring in Charleston and Raleigh and I am so excited that these locations will now have spa rooms offering clean services.

#GIRLBOSS: Katie Dean Jewelry

FashionVeronica ArrietaComment
image via  Katie Dean

image via Katie Dean

Another year, another #GirlBoss. I'm excited to introduce you to this week's #GirlBoss, Katie Dean, founder of Katie Dean Jewelry. Katie started to make dainty, delicate jewelry and when she wore it out people kept stopping her to ask where she got it. Soon enough, she was selling pieces directly off her body. She could barely keep and wear a piece for a week before someone bought it off her (literally!). It was at that point, when she realized that she was happiest making jewelry and people were loving it!

Here is what Katie had to say ...

Name: Katie Dean

Current Title/Company: Owner / Designer of Katie Dean Jewelry

Education: Highschool graduate + the Los Angeles School of Hard Knocks ;-)

What was your first job out of college? I only went to college for one year and it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t feel I needed a degree to have a career in the art world. I moved to LA 3 months before my 19th birthday and my first job out West was being a secretary at a production company.  

Tell us more about Katie Dean Jewelry. My line is made up of dainty, delicate pieces that are meant for everyday wear. I want the line to emanate a fun, feminine vibe that makes people feel happy when they wear it. 

What inspired you to start your own company? Ever since I was little, I wanted to be an artist. Whether that was painting, drawing, sculpting, … I am happiest when creating beautiful things. AND I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, make my own rules, work when I want to work and not have to conform to the traditional 9-5 workday. I, of course worked those 9-5 jobs before starting my line and I felt trapped instead of inspired. I knew from a very young age that I was not meant to have a traditional career path. 

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What advice would you give others thinking about starting their own business? Oh man! I have a lot of advice. First of all: just start doing. I see people that have ideas and talk about them a lot but never start doing them. The first step is getting into action and if it doesn’t pan out that’s ok! It’s better to go for it and take the risk of failing than not do anything - at the very least you will learn a ton and it will help you in the future when you have another idea!

Secondly, be savvy with your money. Don’t go spending it all on something that you know nothing about. Put in your due diligence before you commit to a big expense or before you hire someone on to your team.

This leads me to my third piece of advice which is trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, than don’t rush into any long term commitments or agreements. And lastly, accept the fact that starting your business is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be mistakes and things will go wrong. It’s a part of life. Like I said before, the most important thing is that you learn from the things that go wrong and don’t make the same mistakes in the future. Being successful in business depends on a lot of things but perseverance is a big part of it. 

What was your biggest fear in starting your own business? The question I would ask myself everyday: Am I going to be able to pay my bills? Will this work out in the long run? But you know, when I thought about the grand scheme of things, my biggest fear was not taking a chance. Then looking back in fifty years, having worked a job that didn’t make me happy and wishing that I could get those fifty years back. I may have worked around the clock for the first two years of my business but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I go to bed every night feeling fulfilled and lucky that I get to use my creativity to put things into the world that make women feel happy and inspired when they wear them. That’s worth it all. 

What inspired the pieces you design? I get inspired by the life around me! Everyone is so unique and our perspectives of beauty are all different. I like to create pieces that are eye catching but not dominant of your entire look.  

What designers or brands do you look to for inspiration? I love Madewell. The simplicity of their designs make me feel polished and put together without a lot of effort. I’m also obsessed with a line called Realisation Par. Their wrap dresses are so gorgeous. As well as everything Reformation. For shoes I looove Loeffler Randall. 

What does a typical day look like for you? I like to wake up and work out almost immediately. Starting my day with a workout gives me energy for the rest of my day. I try not to look at my phone or answer emails until afterwards. 

image via  Instagram

image via Instagram

After that I hop on my email! I typically spend a lot of my day on email and on phone meetings. In-between I’m usually sorting through images, posting on our social, planning out new releases and if I’m lucky, sketching new pieces.

As the line has grown, I’ve had to put more time and energy into managing all the moving components of the company. I learned many times that I can’t do it all myself so you have to let go of some of the control. 

If you could pick one or two Katie Dean Jewelry essentials that you couldn’t live without, what would they be?  Oooo! Good quesiton. I would say the Little Dipper studs. I wear these everyday. They’re perfection to me. I also wear the hammered band rings in solid gold every day and the Bar with Gem necklace almost everyday. That was three, haha, so hard to just pick one! 

 What’s your most proud moment since launching Katie Dean Jewelry? This is a hard one! 

What advice would you give to your younger self? Stop worrying so much. We’re not curing cancer here. Not to discount the importance of art and what it does to help humanity but at the end of the day, life is good and you need to keep things in perspective. Staying grounded and keeping your eye on the prize is the name of the game. 

If you could have drinks with four women who would it be? Diane Von Ferstenberg, Elizabeth Gilbert, Martha Stewart and Oprah. 

 What’s next for Katie Dean Jewelry? Any collaborations? Stores we can find you in? We started something really fun this year where we release a new mini-collection every 4-6 weeks and we’ve had an amazing response from our followers! They love seeing new pieces come out on a regular basis and it’s been super fun for me to create new pieces on a regular basis. We announce the new releases on our social media (follow us on Instagram! @katiedeanjewelry) and through our email newsletter (you can sign up through our website!). 

I’m always on the go with the line, heading to new cities and popping up! I love meeting anyone who follows the brand and meeting new people that are seeing the brand for the first time. Every week on Instagram I announce any weekly events that we’re doing so I would love for you to follow along and hopefully I can meet you in person soon! 

Some Of My Favorite Pieces I Own/Swooning Over:

A big thank you to Katie for answering these questions! Make sure to stop by Katie Dean Jewelry by clicking here

Make sure to tune into the next #GIRLBOSS interview series! 

#GIRLBOSS: Founder & President of The Stylist LA, Emily McDonald

FashionVeronica ArrietaComment

Another week, another #GirlBoss. I'm excited to introduce you to this week's #GirlBoss, Emily McDonald, founder of The Stylist LA. The Stylist LA is a Los Angeles-based designer dress rental company that allows you to rent designer dresses (or rompers) for a fraction of the retail price. They also provided wardrobes for some of the most recent “The Bachelor” contestants. Keep reading to what Emily had to say...

image via  The Stylist LA

image via The Stylist LA

Name: Emily McDonald

Current Title/Company:
Founder & President at The Stylist LA

Education:
Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from University of Southern California
Professional Designation Degree in Product Development from FIDM

What was your first job out of college? 
I had a ton of internships and part time jobs while in College and at FIDM.  But my first full time job was as assistant to the COO of Yaya Aflalo, a high-end women’s line.  I helped with production domestically and internationally.  It was a great first job.  I worked in the warehouse in Vernon and got to see the full process of how garments are designed, produced and then sold.

Tell us more about The Stylist LA. 
The Stylist LA is a designer rental company based in LA.  We have a showroom in LA and an e-commerce site that ships nationwide. We allow women to rent dresses for a fraction of the retail price for 5 or ten days at a time.


What inspired you to start The Stylist LA?
I always knew I wanted to start my own company.  Originally I thought I would have my own women’s clothing boutique, however when I was in college at USC and forced to write a business plan for my entrepreneurship class my mind changed.  I saw how saturated the market for women’s boutiques was and how expensive a store was to start.  I began looking around for other potential ideas.  At that time I was interning at a fashion PR firm and saw how celebrities (or their stylists) would basically check out clothes for events and return them afterwards.  I was also in a sorority at USC and saw how often girls wanted new dresses, but didn’t want to buy them.  They were also extremely conscious of being photographed in the same dress twice on social media.  All of these things came together to inspire the idea of starting a dress rental company.


What are some of your favorite clothing brands?
For The Stylist LA I have a few favorites, but one that I always love is Jet Set Diaries. I love the versatility of the brand.  They make everything from rompers (my faves) to evening gowns.  I LOVE the ethereal vibe of this brand.  I appreciate that it is boho, but not so boho I feel like I should be frolicking in a field.

What advice would you give others thinking about starting their own business?
Ahh so much advice, it is hard to pick just one thing.  You really have to have the dedication and passion for it.  It is a marathon not a sprint and you have to be ready to make sacrifices and keep on working when things aren’t going your way.  You have to be ready for the ups and downs and be able to continue working through them without losing your mind.


What was your biggest fear in starting your own business?
One of the scariest things about starting your own company is really putting yourself out there. You have to produce a product or service and just hope that people will receive it well.  You work as hard as you can to produce something incredible, but at the end of the day you are at the mercy of your customers.  Starting a company is an incredibly vulnerable time, especially when you start it by yourself, without a business partner.  It was scary at the beginning, trying to push the company forward without traction or positive customer feedback to fall back on.


What does a typical day look like for you? 
There is absolutely no typical day.  My days depend on what is going on that day, whether we have a photo shoot, whether we go to market to pick out new styles or whether I have meetings with designers or other entrepreneurs.  I almost always start the day with an early morning workout to clear my head and get ready for the day.  Then comes coffee.  I usually work from home in the mornings, returning emails, on calls and getting organized.  Then I head into the showroom and check in with the girls there.  I say hi to clients that are in there, if it is a photo shoot day I meet with our model and photographer and get started on that.  Sometimes I have lunch meetings out of the office (usually down the street at Zinque, a Stylist LA obsession.)  Then I spend the rest of the day working on a number of things.  I work on budgets, check in on how sales are doing, help with customer service on the website, plan our social media, work on business development and more.  In the last year I have shifted from meeting with most clients to doing more of the business back-end stuff.  Hiring the girls that work in the showroom has freed up my time to work on growing the business, rather than meeting every client that comes in.

 

I’ve noticed on Instagram that you started dressing The Bachelor girls. How did that come about? And how has that helped your business? 
It’s a funny story actually.  I reached out to the final 3 girls from Ben’s season via Instagram and Lauren Bushnell responded.  We didn’t know that she won at the time, but she knew that she did and that she would need a lot of dresses for the press tour once the finale aired.  She reached back out to us and said she wanted to come in.  When she came in, we immediately hit it off and ended up becoming friends.  We then dressed her for her press tour and have been involved with a couple of other projects with her since then.  Becca lives next door to one of our favorite clients, so that’s how we got connected with her for the women tell all.  We dressed her for that episode in this amazing gold sequin romper.  She posted such an incredible Instagram pic from the evening, that ended up trending as the #1 most popular picture on the hashtag #womentellall. Then through Becca we met JoJo and got to do a photoshoot with her as well.

It has helped the business tremendously.  For starters, most of our target market watches The Bachelor and pays attention to what the girls wear.  It has really helped us gain exposure with new potential clients all over the US.  Our e-commerce sales have grown immensely since dressing the girls and so has our Instagram following.

 

What is one piece of clothing you think every woman should own? 
That’s a tough question!  Can I pick more than one?!  I think having a great pair of black and nude heels is extremely important.  You can wear almost anything with one or the other.  After that I would say, a good fitting pair of jeans, and the perfect fitting t-shirt or tank top in multiple colors.


What’s your most proud moment since launching The Stylist LA?
My proudest moment so far was dressing Lauren for her media tour with Ben.  That was an incredible moment for us.  We sent her with outfits to wear for each appearance, but we weren’t 100 % sure she would wear them.  I got to watch all of it happen live.  First,  I saw her on Jimmy Kimmel in our dress.  Then the next day it was GMA in our dress, then Kelly & Michael in another one of our dresses.  It was really fun to follow along and watch her change into each of our pieces and wear them for each event.  It was really cool to see how excited people were about her wearing our stuff.  It was a great accomplishment for the business and a very proud moment for myself.

 

What advice would you give to your younger self? 
Not to be so scared or worried about things working out.  I used to get very caught up in what would happen in the future with the business, if I was working as hard as I could, if the business was where it needed to be.  I would tell myself to calm down, work my butt off and let it be.  Worrying does nothing positive!

 

I’m sure The Stylist LA gets compared to Rent the Runway. What makes you different? 
Yes, Rent the Runway is our main competition so we are compared to them frequently.  We offer a similar service, but we are different in many ways.  Our designers and dresses embody more of a younger, West Coast style than RTR.  We pride ourselves on excellent customer service and a much more hands on experience than RTR does.  We focus on quality over quantity and really want each of our customers to have an excellent experience.  We will do almost anything to ensure that they do.

If you could have drinks with four women who would it be? 
Jessica Herrin founder of Stella and Dot (I just finished reading her book and she is so intelligent and inspiring.), Oprah, Beyonce and Martha Stewart.

What's the best fashion advice you've ever received?
Just to be yourself and make sure you are comfortable in what you are wearing.  How you feel in an outfit totally affects how you present yourself!

What’s next for The Stylist LA? Any collaborations? 
There is A LOT in store.  We will be opening a pop up in another city this fall and will be launching a really fun campaign to make it happen.  Stay tuned….the city and campaign will be announced soon!

 

A big thank you to Emily for answering these questions! Make sure to stop by The Stylist LA by clicking here

Make sure to tune into next week's #GIRLBOSS interview series! 

Lessons From #Girlboss

Veronica ArrietaComment

I'm sure you've heard the hype, seen my top three books for entrepreneurs, or picked up the book by now, but today we're talking #GIRLBOSS. 

Sophia Armuroso has been through the good, the bad, and the ugly, and has a lot of advice to give on her journey to success. The story goes somewhat like this: homeless SF dumpster diving bagel eater becomes well-respected #GIRLBOSS with hundreds of employees and millions in the bank. 

I really enjoyed #GIRLBOSS, it's a great read for all of us professional females out there trying to make something of ourselves.

My book is highlighted and scribbled on but I managed to pull 10 of my favorite lessons from the book:

1. "You combine hard work, creativity, and self-determination, and things start to happen." 

2. "You can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in."

3. "Every small choice you've made along the way was something that contributed to where you am now."

4. "Take care of the little things - even the little things that you hate - and treat them as promises to your own future."

5. "You can end up ignoring, and even losing the positive things in your life by just focusing too much on the negative."

6. "Focus on the posititve things in your life and you'll be shocked at how many more positive things start happening."

7. "The most important thing to do is to take risks. The risks are when breakthroughs happen, and big shifts take you to new places and create opportunities. They can be really scary and intimidating, but that means it is taking you out of your comfort zone."

8. "You won't go anywhere just talking about yourself. Listen. Its one of the greatest gifts you could give to yourself."

9. "You will make sacrifices and compromised, get let down and let other people down, fail and start over, break some hearts, take some names and learn to pick up and continue when your own heart gets broken. But difficult doesn't mean impossible, and out of the bajillions of things in the is universe that you can't control, what ou can control is how hard you try, and if you when to pack it in."

10. "As hard as it is, stop caring so much about what other people think. Find a way to hear what you want. Recognize what is your dream. And then put everything you have into that: your work, the relationships you surround yourself with, the food you put in your body. Everything you have ontrol over in your world should feed that dream and make you feel like a #GIRLBOSS."

Have you read #GIRLBOSS? Would love to hear what you thought about the book. Which of these quotes resonates with you? 

PS - If you liked #GIRLBOSS then you will also enjoy : I Am That Girl and Do Cool Sh*t

Four Threads

Three Best Books For Entrepreneurs

Veronica ArrietaComment
Best Books For Entrepreneurs | Four Threads

#GIRLBOSS | I Am That Girl | Do Cool Sh*t

Lately I've been into the "get off your butt and do something" kind of books. It happens to the best of us, we find ourself in a rut where we ask ourself "what the heck am I doing?" I've found that the best solution is to pick up a good book and get inspired. There's something so encouraging about reading about someone else who's started something, faced obstacles both high and low and learn how they got through it. These three books are my three current favorites because they're full of inspiration and wisdom from these talented women. They're easy reads; I always end up highlighting and underlining everything in them.

What are some of your favorite books?  

PS - I'm almost done reading #GIRLBOSS by the Founder and CEO of NastyGal and cannot put it down. Will do a future post on what's I've learned once I finish it.  

Four Threads