Remember how we mentioned that the very first Vaute Couture store, Vaute Here, is opening on Sunday in Williamsburg?! YEAH ya do! If you’re half as psyched as I am, you’ll want to read all about owner Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart’s adventure in opening her first shop — how she chose the space, what she learned about creating a store, and what you’ll find in the shop when it opens (it’s more than coats! Yay!). Read on for a little Q-and-A between Leanne and me.
Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart is the founder and owner of the New York-based vegan clothing company Vaute Couture. She’s been featured on Oprah.com, has an MBA, and is a model. (To quote a movie, she’s “so hot it’s like looking through a shimmering jet engine.”)
Samantha Cohen: What has it been like to set up your first shop?
Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart: This has been one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. Unlike what most people probably think, my (or any other designer’s) life is usually full of logistical and operational details and processes, with design being about 2 percent of what I normally get to do. As a bootstrapped, self-funded venture, I’ve been working nearly all by myself, besides the occasional intern or amazing confidante to help during the craziest times, for the past three and a half years. That’s operations, production management, marketing, sales, customer service, design, finances, and product development.
This past fall I barely made it out alive, working from morning until past midnight, nothing but work, to keep up with this insane third season. (Not that I’m complaining–I’m very, very grateful to do what I love and have the best customers in the world, that is for sure. I just want to give an idea of why building the store was so wonderful for me.) After I took my first vacation in two years this January, I started hiring my first team to help with operations and customer service, while building the space. Continue Reading…