Ever dreamt of having an online business so you can travel the world and not be chained to a desk? That was my dream too as a Fashion Accessory Entrepreneur. Then Covid19 happened. Fashion is one of the industries that has been severely affected by this pandemic.
Here is my story of when life gives you lemons and no one wants lemonade. Open a new office! My new space below might be small but it's very inspirational!
Sometimes we struggle so very hard to find out what it is we are looking to accomplish in our lives when if we were only to stop, let our thoughts settle, find somewhere calm and peaceful and switch off from the noise of everyday life …..we see that it has always been there, right in front of our noses, without even realizing it! The lockdown phase of Covid 19 gave me this time to reflect, figure out what was important and what I wanted to focus on once the lockdown period was lifted.
Pre- Entrepreneur Life
I started my Couture Cashmere business five years ago, after having a lifelong career in the prestige, high-end cosmetic and fragrance industry, working for the top five blue-chip companies LVMH, Cosmair, The Estee Lauder Group, and Swarovski Crystal to name but a few. My accounts and contacts were the best. Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys and beyond …..a different world, yet such a very short time ago.
Our world had changed and is continuing to do so now at an even more accelerated pace than before since the pandemic began, and we are all just beginning to start forming our new ideas and plans of how we might exist in this new future ahead, that has yet to rise to from the ashes, and materialize itself into something recognizable and rewarding for our future lives.
I had been buying beautiful items that I loved to wear and show to my friends and colleagues and realized that in there somewhere, were the beginnings of a small business, so with a little bank account stashed away with savings over the years; I took the plunge. I jumped right in with my business of looking for exclusive one of a kind items, in scarves, shawls, and accessories and began my business.
We were very lucky as over the past 20 years of living in London, we had invested in both France and Italy in holiday home rental properties, and in coming to both countries over the years I developed contacts with manufacturers of beautiful, exclusive, one of a kind pieces that I knew could not be found anywhere in the USA. So with my business background and my contacts in the US I thought what great fun it would be to find these pieces for my contacts who loved to be different, who enjoyed wearing things no one else would have and to add a little flair and drama to their closest with these bespoke, unique accessories, scarves, wraps, and couture fashion one of a kind pieces such as jackets, vests and cashmere wraps. And so it began ...
We had come to France to escape the London winter weather in early March and to visit my French design, to choose some of his new bespoke pieces for my upcoming show at Americasmart in Atlanta in July, when over the space of 48 hours the lockdown was announced in France, and we decided to stay put and see it through, not realising how long it would last and how seriously it would affect the whole world.
COVID19 - Who anticipated that?
It's a decision we made not to return to London, and one we are very happy we did as we came out of lockdown about 6 weeks ago now and life slowly is returning to normal. It wasn't so difficult. Nice has a beautiful year round micro climate with gorgeous weather, stunning lighting, spectacular surroundings and despite the virus and daily updates, we faced the challenge, stayed home and toughed it out with our French neighbours !
It wasn't easy. It was very tough. We were "locked down" for eight straight weeks allowed out only for one hour of exercise, no further than one-half mile from our home, and always accompanied with a document saying why we were out (exercise, supermarket shop, or pharmacy prescriptions) were the only three reasons you could go out. No bike riding (to risk in case of accidents as Nice is the capital for all the world-class professional cyclists who train for the famous Tour De France bike race each year) and they did not want people injuring themselves and taking up beds unnecessarily in the hospitals here catering to the coronavirus cases. We did the right thing. President Emmanuel Macron a great job, and we are now out and free and clear and ready to get on with our lives and business plans for the future!
It was during this lockdown, with so much time on my hands to think that I realized I had had a wonderful small business that had so much to offer and that I had not done enough of explaining to my lovely clientele, exactly what it was I could offer them that was so unique and different to the thousands of other manufacturers of "like" products such as scarves, shawls, wraps, jackets, vests, etc.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS ......
My "secret sauce" is that I live in Europe. I have great connections here with my couture designer in France who allows me to buy my chosen pieces from his collection, once he has completed his "around the world" fashion shows in places such as Tokyo, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Hong Kong and Barcelona.
Each of his items are truly uniquely designed, using the best of fabrics, cashmere, wool, mongolian lamb, and real leather, and he has a following worldwide of women who wait eagerly for each season to see his new creations. His items are not sold in the USA which makes my selection truly unique and bespoke to my discerning clients, who love that they have something they will not be seeing on anyone else that season!
We are now planning to spend our future equally divided between Italy and France and my goal is to seek out those unique pieces in both countries that I know my clients will love, and want to own! Italy has the best productions of fabulous leather purses and handbags, as well as beautiful silk scarves, so between these two countries I know that my Couture Cashmere will have a special place in the super competitive fashion accessory business. My "secret sauce" will be the fact they are not to be found in US retailers and that the items picked can be safely worn knowing you won't run into someone else wearing the same piece or carrying the same purse or handbag.
My cashmere contact is second to none, with beautiful quality wraps, scarves, shawls and pashminas in a glorious array of colours and exceptionally affordable prices.
With all of these great contacts in Europe and the many clients and friends I have made over the past four years attending the shows in London, Paris and Atlanta, I know that with hard work and determination I can find a space amongst the fashion veterans to provide the best quality, the best prices, and the most unique items for us all.!
Stay tuned …a new Look Book is in the works and this will be updated with new items just purchased and will be sent out to each of you later this summer in August and September.
In the meantime, I hope each and every one of you stay safe and well and healthy – I am looking forward to showing you my new collection very soon!