Neontrepreneur: Handbag Designer Lauren Cecchi
We’re back with our second Neon-trepreneur: the fabulous Lauren Cecchi, 27-year-old founder, CEO and designer of accessories line Lauren Cecchi New York. Lauren and I met a couple years ago at an e-commerce conference and I was instantly impressed by her go-getter attitude and all around boss-lady vibes. Seriously, this chick is unstoppable.
While working as a fashion buyer, Lauren noticed the lack of American-made luxury goods and set out to build a high-quality accessories line produced right here in New York City’s Garment District. Flash forward three years later and Lauren is selling her gorgeous collection of leather bags, small leather goods and accessories at numerous retailers nation-wide.
The most impressive thing about Lauren is the care she puts into each design–the quality and color of the leather, the lining, the hardware, her relationships with her manufacturers. No detail is overlooked.
It’s that care for her product, her unparalleled taste, and her unstoppability that qualify Lauren as this month’s Neon-trepreneur.
TNTP: Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit and if so, can you share any early endeavors?
LC: I think watching my parents be entrepreneurs set me up to do the same thing. I always say that we didn’t have family dinners, we had business meetings. My family is a bunch of serial entrepreneurs who have numerous companies under their belts, so we are all constantly throwing ideas around about new inventions or ways to improve existing products and services.
TNTP: What drove you to launch your line? How did you know it was the “right time,” if such a thing exists?
LC: For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a designer for my own label, but I didn’t have that “AH HA!” moment until I was working as an assistant buyer. When I was making purchases for the 15 stores we worked with, I saw that there were a lot of luxury brands from Europe, but few from the United States. I found myself wondering why I couldn’t create my own line of affordable luxury handbags right in the garment district of New York City. Shortly thereafter I found out it could be done, so I started Lauren Cecchi New York and the rest is history.
And I don’t think there is every a “right time” to start a business. I believe it just has to feel right for you, and you have to be willing to go for it when it does.
TNTP: Where do you find inspiration for both yourself/business and your designs?
LC: I find my inspiration everywhere. If I’m walking around a familiar neighborhood here in the city or exploring a new country I’ve never seen, I discover stimulation at every turn. I’ll be the first to admit that bright colors catch my attention, but I find inspirational things on the streets, within every culture, and even in nature.
When looking out my window on a plane over the Everglades, I became inspired for my 2016 Fall collection by the various shades of green, black, and sand. I spotted an awesome blue/green vintage car when I was in London recently, and it became my inspiration for the Spring 2017 collection. It’s safe to say I’m constantly inspired by the world around me.
TNTP: Was there a moment when you felt like you had made it, or at least that you were truly onto something?
LC: I don’t think I will ever have that feeling! When you say, “You’ve made it,” I can’t help but to think about all the stuff I have yet to accomplish. This year, we had some pretty amazing press like in Sports Illustrated, but I don’t think I have “made it” by any means. Maybe when I have my own store in New York City and a few around the world, when I can show off my collection at NYFW and have the top socialites and celebrities wearing my pieces I will start to feel that way. For now, I have a pile of goals yet to be accomplished.
TNTP: What are the best and hardest parts about having your own business?
LC: The best part about having my own business is the freedom to create what I want. I love drawing, designing, creating new colors, and orchestrating photo shoots. When you see a picture from one of my shoots, it illustrates what’s happening in my head – translated through images so people can understand my vision. I love that!
As for the hardest part, I really don’t like doing the nitty gritty business chores like filing taxes, coding my website, and reading legal documentation. I’d rather give that work to someone who finds pleasure in it like I find pleasure in designing. That way I could continue living in my daydream!
However, my business would not be where it is today without learning every aspect of my company. As much as I may not like to do everything, I get to learn a new trade and I can teach that to someone else to take over when the position opens up in the future.
TNTP: To what do you attribute your success thus far?
LC: The answer to that can be summed up in two words: hard work. If anyone every tells you that their success came from out of the blue, then they are either the luckiest person in the world or they are lying to you. The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
Lots of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears have brought me to where I am today – and I literally mean blood, sweat, and tears. It has been a rough road since the beginning, but it’s also been one hell of a ride. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
TNTP: What have been your most successful marketing outlets, endeavors, and/or strategies?
LC: Instagram has been the best social media platform for us. It has made marketing my vision and voice so much easier. I think people like to see what we are doing. They become inspired by our photos and obviously get in their retail therapy. The strategy I find to be most successful is to be completely transparent so people feel like they are a part of our journey to the top.
TNTP: What is your dream project?
LC: My dream project would be to make a custom handbag for Kate Middleton. I think she has the upmost class and it would be the highest honor to design for her.
TNTP: Where do you see your brand in 3-5 years?
LC: That’s a tough question to answer! I think by that time we will have a physical store. I hope we will be featured in the print pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and worn by the likes of Christy Teigen, Blake Lively, and Emily Ratajkowski.
TNTP: Based on your experience, what advice would you offer other young female entrepreneurs?
LC: I’d say work hard, never give up, and be sure you have a great support system because times are bound to get tough from time to time, especially in the beginning. If I didn’t have my friends and family there to uplift me when a trunk show or season didn’t go as I had expected, I might have given up a long time ago. I’d say it’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it if it’s in pursuit of your passion. There’s nothing quite like seeing all your hard work pay off.
peace, love & neon,
Photos c/o Lauren Cecchi New York