Tell us a little about yourself and your brand/work:
I am the owner and founder of Bembien, an accessories line based in Brooklyn, New York.
The brand was originally inspired by a woman I saw while walking to work at Vogue Magazine—she had an effortless elegance about her (very 1970s coastal France), and she was carrying the chicest, most disheveled straw bag. It launched me onto a hunt to find something similar, and I quickly realized that you can’t find quality woven goods from mainstream retailers, but that they best come from small weaving villages around the world. I had never intended to start a brand (and never considered myself much of an entrepreneur), but I was inspired to put my six years of working in marketing at Vogue to good use and start a brand that helped promote the incredible work of these artisans. The designs are inspired by vintage coastal French and Italian style (think Slim Aarons in the 1970s—very much like the woman I saw while walking to work nearly 2 years ago) and the mission of the brand is to put the traditional weave of our artisans on the global market and in the public eye.
Where are you based:
How did you get your start in your industry? Have you always been in your profession?:
My background is primarily in marketing, so I’ve needed to learn what it takes to run a fashion business on my own. But my initial start in the fashion industry happened when I was hired to work at Vogue in 2011. One person took a huge chance on me, and it forever changed the course of my career. I always look back at the time in my life with such gratitude—Vogue is where I really grew up professionally and learned to spread my wings.
When did you decide to go out on your own? Will you tell us a little bit about that time for you?:
For the first year of running the business, I was actually working two jobs (going to an office from 9-5 and then working on Bembien at night and into the early morning hours). Besides the fact that it was exhausting, eventually it became clear that Bembien needed my full attention.
Those first couple months of working full time for Bembien proved to be more challenging than expected. I had always worked at jobs where I was part of a larger team / community at an office, and didn’t realized how much I loved being around people every day. Going solo was a bit isolating feeling at first, but I learned after a few months that what I needed to do was create me own culture and community here at Bembien.
What advise would you give to your younger self now?
Take your early 20s to soak it all in. Listen to anyone who’s willing to talk to you—they all have valuable lessons to teach. Appreciate what others have built and learn from them (and do not take your salaried position for granted).
What advice do you give yourself daily?
Well I don’t always listen to my own advice…. but I try to tell myself o take a moment to pause and look at things from a different perspective. And to not get too bogged down in any one thing. If something can’t be solved in the moment, take a break from it and revisit at a later time.
Does anything come to mind that you would want to share with young entrepreneurs thinking about starting a business?
Launch as quickly as you can! If you have a good idea now, launch it now—don’t wait. You can (and you will always) iterate….and since nothing will ever be perfect, launch as soon as you can to get it out in the world!
Describe your design ethos:
Minimal, natural, unsaturated
How would you describe your personal style and what 1920 style do you think represents that best?
I’m a huge believer that nothing beats the basics: jeans and a t-shirt. The Women's Slim Sleeve Crew in Navy, Black and White are my favorite, for their classic simplicity.
What inspires you most about what you are doing?
I have to say, I’m continually awed and inspired by the artisans that fuel this brand. All our items are handmade and benefit from extraordinarily talented women and generations of weaving tradition. They’ve continued to rise to the occasion with every new challenge that we face together, as the brand continues to grow.
Words to live by:
Be kind to everyone you meet and always keep an open mind…life’s most important moments often come from unexpected places.
Anything else you want to add:
Happy International Women’s Day! These past two years, one of the biggest joys that has come from Bembien is discovering and being a part of the amazing community of female business owners who are ready and willing to help one another! Women are the BEST! Here’s to supporting one another!