#LifeLessons: Designer Laura Vassar on What It's Like Founding Your Own Brand

Our Second Life podcast (released on Mondays) is growing! On Wednesdays, we’ll be releasing a limited series in partnership with Cartier called Life Lessons, in which Who What Wear co-founder and Chief Content Officer Hillary Kerr will chat with women who’ve had incredible careers within a single field or industry. Subscribe to Second Life on iTunes, and stay tuned. This week, she’s talking to Laura Vassar, co-founder of luxury ready-to-wear label Brock Collection.

By the time Laura Vassar found herself sewing her own prom dress back in high school, it was clear to her that she wanted to someday pursue a career in fashion. That initial dress—in all its strapless fuchsia glory—may not be found among the designs she’s sent down the runway for Brock Collection (her luxury ready-to-wear line), but she still has fond memories of it. “Ruffles… okay,” she says with a laugh. “I had a point of view.”

That distinct point of view is precisely why fashion editors go so crazy over the richly textured, detailed garments she and her husband (and business partner), Kristopher Brock, have been dreaming up since 2014. The pair met while studying at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York City, where they discovered that their respective skill sets meshed together perfectly. After amassing a few years of real-world experience, they launched Brock Collection out of the basement of their South Street Seaport apartment. Barneys was one of the first retailers to pick up the collection after the success of the brand’s F/W 15 show at New York Fashion Week.

After winning the coveted CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund she and her team were paired up with Tom Ford, who served as their mentor during the yearlong process. What was it like working with everyone’s favorite Virgo? “He’s the most brilliant person,” Vassar says of the renowned designer, adding that Ford helped them really hone in on their brand identity. “He helped us find this idea of Brock being raw American romance,” she says. “And if it’s not romantic and it’s not floral, if it’s not who we are, get rid of it.”

As for her own advice to aspiring designers? “There’s no right time,” she says, thinking back to some of Brock Collection’s earliest runway shows. “You just have to do it—you just have to go for it.” It seems to have paid off for Vassar and co.: The brand is now stocked at big-time sites like MatchesFashion, Net-a-Porter, and Moda Operandi, and they’re currently working expanding the brand internationally, partnering with Onward Luxury Group to produce ready-to-wear pieces in Italy. Not too bad, right? We can’t wait to see what they do next.

Shop Our Brock Collection Picks:

For more on Laura Vassar’s career journey, listen to this week’s Life Lessons episode (embedded above, and also available on Art19), and don’t forget to subscribe to Second Life on iTunes.