Charlotte, NC, home of craft beers, Panthers football and this fearsome duo, Hillary and Laura. The pair make quite the team, skilled with more than enough experience to rival any other fashion duo. Together, their past experiences curating pop-up shops for Bonobos, Cynthia Rowley and Exhibition A in partnership with Barney's, Colette and Lane Crawford has allowed them to bring the ultimate shopping experience to the Carolinas. Their business partnership started with the launch of SoGood which highlights top entrepreneurs, designers and creatives throughout the Southeast. Now, after much positive feedback from the community, they have launched a new series dedicated to the growth and exposure of new emerging brands and designers.
BRANDSHOP IS A TRAVELING CONCEPT SHOP THAT CONNECTS EMERGING BRANDS CREATED BY WOMEN TO NEW, HIGHLY RELEVANT CONSUMERS
What is Brandshop and how was the idea born?
BS: Brandshop is a traveling pop-up shop that brings the coolest emerging brands, created by female entrepreneurs, to cities around the country. Our 2-day pop-up events feature 20+ shop-in-shops, book signings, and a killer 1-day speaker series that fosters a conversation around art, design, fashion, and business. After moving from NYC back to the South, we started to talk about how access to top emerging brands was more limited here - there are tons of amazing young brands to be represented in the handful of higher and speciality boutiques in Charlotte. We wanted to give both brands and consumers the opportunity to connect in a meaningful way.
You guys have an exciting line up for next year, Charlotte is the first city on the list. Why Charlotte, NC?
BS: We launched our first company in Charlotte and have tested the Brandshop concept here over the past 12 months with an amazing response. One of our goals with Brandshop is to help companies expand their distribution in growing cities outside of major fashion markets and we're excited by the opportunity here in Charlotte. Between the amazing brands, savvy customers and awesome entrepreneurs joining us for our speaker series, Charlotte feels like the perfect place to launch!
There seems to be an exponential focus on women owned businesses recently. How has this impacted the growth of what you guys are doing?
BS: We've been really lucky to work with a great group of female entrepreneurs who are excited by our concept and were willing to believe in us enough to work with us on our first major event. One thing we've found in this community is that the women we work with are extremely generous - with advice, time and connections - which has been instrumental to our growth.
If you could pick three additional cities to add to Brandshop's lineup, where would they be? Ever think of going international?
BS: We've already picked them! We have events planned in 2016 in Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, and DC. We're focusing on the South for our first year in business - but the sky's the limit going forward.
Where do you see the success of Brandshop going in 5-10 years from now?
BS: Our mission is to help emerging brands that have exceptional products, but limited distribution, connect with highly relevant audiences in new markets. We're starting by hosting these large-scale events in key cities across the country. After that, we have some intresting ideas around how we can take this concept to another level and potentially help put young brands on the map in a meaningful way. No details to reveal just yet though.
What can we expect to see/hear at Brandshop events? Any special surprises for Charlotte's event?
BS: If you're joining us for our speaker series on Friday, 12/11, you'll be hearing from an amazing lineup of accomplished female creatives. Women like gallerist Chandra Johnson, curator Annie Carlano, Designer/Retailer Jamies Meares, and fashion experts Laura Poole, Sarah Easley, Ann Mashburn and Stacy Smallwood. Aside from our amazing lineup of fashion, home decor and jewelry/accessories brands, expect to find local mavens open a Flowershop, Wrapshop, Coffeeshop & Juiceshop within the walls of Brandshop!
Who inspires you both? And what lessons have you learned since launching Brandshop?
LAURA: Honestly? My business partner. I'm so lucky to be in a great business relationship with my best friend from forever. She's incredibly smart, passionate, and knows just what to say to get me to go from a low to a high. Between the two of us, she's definitely the more optimistic one, which I promise you - can be just the inspiration you need when you're having a tough day in the office. (yes, those happen even when you are your own boss)!
HILLARY: GAH blushing. Can I do a ditto? I'll change the question but it certainly is amazing working with someone I know (and love!) so well. I believe I can see her talent more clearly that she can which is a daily inspiration. From left brain to right brain, Laura is an operations guru and a super creative visual thinker (she designs everything Brandshop from graphics to shop concept), something I learn from daily and that I'd love to (but never will be able to) emulate!
If you could take a peek into your closets, what three recently purchased items would we find?
How would you say technology has impacted the growth of the business?
BS: In a sense, it's impacted us in a somewhat backwards way. 10 years ago many of the businesses that we work with would have had a huge wholesale business where their collections would have been represented in 100s of boutiques across the country. Today, it's so easy to open and run an e-commerce site that many young brands are focusing their efforts online initially because the consumer reach is larger and the margins are higher. The barriers to entry are lower - which means more merging brands, but also less connection with consumers on a local level. As a consumer, it can be tough to discover these emerging brands because they aren't necessarily hanging on the rack on your local boutique and you may not stumble upon them through the noise of the internet. We're working to bring back the connection by giving designers and consumers the opportunity to engage in person - and then hopefully continue to interact online.
What advice would you give to those looking to achieve their personal dreams and aspirations?
BS: Listen to as much advice and feedback as you can but don't be too reactive to what you hear. There are amazing insights that can be found in good data and often those, coupled with feedback, are what you should use to shape your strategy and vision.
You can follow Brandshop on Insta via the handle
*Boss Babes is a series by Criseida documenting the lives of entrepreneurial and business savvy women.*