In honor of Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s latest book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($14), we’re running an interview series featuring 17 questions (in honor of the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of the most inspirational female leaders in the fashion industry. So far, we’ve tapped Reformation’s Yael Aflalo, Elyse Walker, Rachel Zoe, and more. Up next? Clare Vivier.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a girl in America who doesn’t own (or at least want) a handbag designed by Clare Vivier. The brand, now known as Clare V., has evolved into a one-stop shop for not only a plethora of gorgeous handbag styles but also covetable graphic tees, eyewear, and travel gear.
Vivier launched her California-based namesake company in 2008 after having previously worked in journalism. Her major career change came after a stint living in Paris (which explains the minimal French aesthetic of many of her designs). To find out more about the life and successful career of the CEO (and busy mom), we went straight to the source. Keep scrolling to read the interview, including the invaluable advice that everyone who wants to work in fashion should hear!
“I run a fashion company with six of our own retail stores, I design handbags, I manage a lot of people, and have a lot of fun.”
“Finding the best people for our team is a full-time job! Now I know why human resources exists!”
“I don’t remember if it was my first job interview, but I remember an early one in NYC where I wore a black Anna Sui jumpsuit with cabbage roses on it. I felt so good!”
“Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz because he has created this global phenomenon from scratch and always had a social conscious, and treated his employees well.”
“Women’s Wear Daily, Business of Fashion, Vogue.com, and Instagram.”
“The biggest challenge is balancing all of the various hats that I wear on any given day (or all at once) and trying to stay sane.”
“A connection to the brand, a clear drive, an interesting sense of style, a clear background knowledge in the area they are applying for, and a good travel story always gets me interested.”
“Something that looks polished and usually with heels—an example would be my emerald velvet Frame pantsuit.”
“Inspiring, busy, intelligent, and dedicated (I actually asked her).”
“Visit a museum like The Broad; take a walk through Elysian Park with my son, Oscar, and dog, Paco; or just get comfortable in my backyard with an espresso and a good magazine.”
“Be honest and communicative, and it helps to give as much notice as possible.”
“Order in: Dune for their falafel or Mixto for their kale salad or tacos. Go out: Forage for their salmon bowl or Sqirl for a rice bowl. If I’m bringing lunch, it’s usually leftovers from dinner the night before.”
“Not being self-initiators or self-starters.”
“Issa Rae because I love her and her show, Christine Lemieux for design inspiration, Lena Dunham because I love her and want to see into her life, Laura Brown because she’s hilarious and a baller (in the best sense), and Mara Akil because she’s inspiring and beautiful.”
“I always feel most productive when I get a good night’s rest and make it to a Pilates class in the morning. On the mornings I don’t go to Pilates, I have a little more time and I take Oscar, my son, to school; then I get to work a full hour before everyone else and I get a lot done! I start with a morning espresso. In the evening I love to wind down with a glass of French wine and a good meal cooked by my husband. If I’m lucky it’s something like Ratatouille.”
“To follow my gut, trust my intuition—it is what has always worked best for me in business. Anytime I’ve gone against it, it hasn’t worked out. Maybe I’ve learned things, but ultimately it hasn’t worked out. It’s all part of the process, though.”
“The design team and I are working on our fall 2017 collection. It’s an exciting process to choose the new leathers and design new bodies to introduce. We’re also moving our studio to a bigger space in Frogtown in L.A.—an exciting neighborhood on the L.A. River. Also excited about opening our San Francisco store, in Hayes Valley in early 2017.”
What would you like to know about embarking on a career in the fashion industry? Tell us in the comments below!
Opening Image: Getty Images