An interview with Corinne Phipps: Trendsetter, Entrepreneur, Fashion Correspondent for NBC Bay Area and Founder of Urban Darling®.
ec: Hey Corinne, thanks for taking the time to chat with me about your company, Urban Darling. Before we jump into all the pluses of working with Urban Darling, I am always curious where people come up with the names for their companies. What I love about Urban Darling is that you take on a different personae just by saying Urban Darling. I know when I say it I spend a little more time on the word darling... so do tell.
CP: This idea come to me that when I was starting a company I wanted a cool name that was easy to say and easy to spell. People butcher my name and I was really tired of that. Quite embarrassing too when you are in an interview and someone says your name incorrectly (not that you do Elizabeth, you are darling) so I opened up an Excel Spreadsheet and had 4 categories. I forget what they are now, but I brainstormed all these adjectives that described who I thought I wanted to represent and Urban Darling were on top of one another - I went and found that is was available and I bought it. I felt like I got a kiss from the Universe!
ec: Why did you first sense that fashion along with shopping were two passions that were in your DNA?
CP: Haa haa, yes definitely in my DNA - my mother is a nurse by trade and a seamstress by passion. She sewed all of her own clothing in high school. I used to joke that she would prop her Vogue magazines on her belly when I was cooking. It was infused into me. I remember when I was 10 years old and ESPRIT was big and so was pink and grey - I had this matchy matchy outfit that I loved but no SHOES to go with it. I was heartbroken and decided to wear my mother's pink jellies (a full 2 sizes bigger) with the outfit. A fashionista was born.
ec: What made you believe that the time was right for Urban Darling? What expertise in your own background gave you the moxie to forge ahead with a company that does much more then just help women put this with that? From what I can tell, you have given women the right to feel great about themselves and the right to look freaking fabulous without breaking the bank or a sweat.
CP: Absolutely - we give a woman her permission back. It is an intimate experience for a lot of our clients; we connect and make them shine.
You know, I lead with my intuition and starting Urban Darling for me was as simple as this "Am I going to be an action person or am I am someone who says they are going to do something and never does it." I got tired of hearing my own thoughts. I had enough leadership training, it was time to turn all of that inward. Since August of 2006 I have been a machine and asked myself "why didn't I do this sooner?"
ec: I like how you market Urban Darling as the working woman's wardrobe stylist. It seems that by working with one of Urban Darling's fashion consultants a woman can discover a more confident and sassy version of herself along with one less thing to have to worry about in her demanding, time crunched life. Can you tell us more about Urban Darling's philosophy?
CP: Our philosophy is simple: Urban Darling is defining, cultivating and revolutionizing the approach to wardrobe consulting with everyday luxury, humor, signature style, and living a modern life with sophistication and splash of sass. We are eco-friendly paying the purged wardrobe items forward to charities. Care to join the revolution?
ec: A lot of women look into their closets and bemoan the fact that they have nothing to wear. I believe sometimes women don't because they fall in love (or hate) with clothing that will never work with anything in their closets and well intentioned garments are banished to the dark corner of the closets. When you take on a new client how do you help them renew, reinvent, recapture their wardrobe and embrace their new sense of style?
CP: Good question Elizabeth. It is really a bit different for everyone. We go through a closet audit with the Purge Merge Splurge(TM) process. Purge is touching every piece of clothing and put it in one of three piles: Keep, Alter, Donate. The worst of closets have treasures in those dark corners. We have the hind and fore sight to make educated decisions with our clients about their wardrobe.
Merge is taking what is left over and we will show you how to make the most of your current clothes and accessories. We'll talk about how to mix and match your current pieces, create new combinations and outfits and suggest pieces you may want to add that really reflect the personal style you are creating.
Splurge with the pared down wardrobe there is now room for some new things. We'll shop and show you how to find those great new pieces that reflect your style, budget, life and most of all, make you smile.
ec: When you or one of your Closet Auditors comes in to revamp a closet does every item get marching orders or do you hold onto basics and unique pieces?
CP: We always hold on to basics, unless a client has worn them to the ground, then we replace!
ec: How do your wardrobe stylists walk their clients through the Purge, Merge and Splurge! (TM) program? And are there a lot of tears and gnashing of teeth during the process? I read that all gently worn clothing marked for the purge pile is donated to a local charity and your client gets a tax deduction. So Urban Darling is an eco-friendly company with a heart.
CP: We are eco-friendly! We try not to annihilate a wardrobe, which will cause anxiety. Although some women love it, I have to admit. We love giving back, in fact it is one of the philosophies we adhere to.
ec: One trend I have seen more of and just love is shopping for vintage clothing and updating one's wardrobe with the help of a consignment shop. Do you encourage your clients to rethink where their clothing comes from and finally what is so great about going off the beaten path when adding one of a kind gems to ones wardrobe?
CP: We do. We take the accessory route for vintage and antique pieces. I am not a vintage expert - we'd love to have someone who is!
ec: What do you see as becoming fashion forward statements in 2010? Will we still be mixing plaid with stripes, toppling over in heels that go up to there (but they do make our legs the center of the universe) or is fashion going to be making a quieter, more gentler statement (hope not)?
CP: Honestly, I have no idea. I mean that the designers are a bit of a loss with where their direction is. Florals? Ewww. Shoulder pads? WTH? I mean I know we recycle style, but what we are seeing now is not that different than 1987. I wish they were more bold. I do like Zack Lo Shoes though...he's got talent and gumption. We need someone to get creative.
ec: With all the success that Urban Darling has bought you still make time to give back to up and coming entrepreneurs. What are some of the pros and cons you tell them to consider before they start own business?
CP: I tell them they won't make the big bucks the first couple of years! I am beginning my 4th year in August and 2009 was 50% down from 2008. You have to have an iron stomach, not take things personal "It's just business" and have a passion that makes you want to turn naked cart wheels in the street.
ec: What are your future plans for Urban Darling?
CP: Oh we are going big. I am licensing to women who want to break into wardrobe styling or join their own styling company with a brand that is about to knock the socks off the world. I want 30 chapters of Urban Darling by end of 2011!
ec: I thank you for taking the time to talk to us about Urban Darling and its philosophy for bringing out the best in our wardrobe and ourselves. And finally, do these shoes go with this outfit?