Sometimes life positions you in the right place at the right time, and there's nothing else to do but go with it.
That's kind of how Carol Han and Alexandra Weiss came to form CA Creative, a two-month old consultancy that, in the simplest terms, advises brands on how to use the Internet.
Carol, previously StyleCaster's fashion director, and Alexandra, who worked in marketing at Ralph Lauren, realized that, as 20-something fashion people plugged into a specific scene, they could offer designers and retailers insight and advice on how to market to the current generation.
Carol and Alexandra have a ton of other projects going on, so they invited me to their work station at The Smile last Friday to talk about what it's like to launch a business.
Okay, the recorder seems to be working, so let's get to it! Do you guys work from here a lot, from home or do you have an office?
Carol: We meet everyday, so we don't work from home a lot. And we either meet here or the Soho House. Mostly the Soho House.
When I was freelancing, I was this close to getting a membership there. Simply because it's just just so convenient, and they're fine with you being there all day.
Carol: All day--it's great.
You've been doing this for how long?
Alexandra: We've been official for two months. Obviously, there was planning behind it, but that's when we started.
So, why don't you give me a little summary of your backgrounds.
Carol: My background is heavily editorial. I did a quick stint at Lucky in the closet and then moved over to Elle, where I was a fashion market assistant and then the fashion market editor at Elle.com, where I worked under Keith Pollock [current editorial director of Elle.com].
I stayed at Elle for two years, then I got approached by StyleCaster. While I was there I built their entire content strategy. I was there for two years--I have like, a two year track record. Ha-that's better than most! I feel like the most people only stick around for one year or so these days.
Anyways, in the last six or seven months I was at StyleCaster, I was being approached by brands who were trying to build an editorial voice online.
And there was enough consultation work to do it full time.
Carol: Exactly, so Alexandra and I decided to come together to form CA Creative, which does just that--builds online strategies for companies.
What about you, Alexandra?
Alexandra: Well, I wanted to work in fashion like every other girl, so I got an internship in the fashion closet at Elle. Carol and I actually started there on the same day. I was there for few months and started to get a little freelance work--I helped out in the closet of W, helped out Tina Chai, worked on a T shoot. I was sort of just bouncing all over the place.
I had a friend at Ralph Lauren, and they suggested that I come and meet everyone. I ended up getting a job in the global marketing department, where I first worked for the VP of marketing, who was really forward-thinking about the Internet and had launched Polo.com. I was just really interested in how these different brands at different price points maintained their brand identity. While I was there they did so many great things--the big iPhone app push around the US Open, the interactive fashion fashion show on Rugby.com. I became really interested in that aspect of the industry. Carol and I had always wanted to work together, so this seemed like the perfect way.
Obviously, you have a ton of contacts, which helps when you're starting out. But what was kind of your initial strategy when you were pitching companies?
Carol: We sort of kept it in the family initially. We've been lucky enough that we're able to only approach brands that we really want to work with and we really believe in.
What was your first project?
Alexandra: Club Monaco--we did an event with them around their 2010 lookbook. They really wanted to differentiate the brand, put a different spin on Club Monaco.
Carol: They approached us, actually. Someone over there reads my personal blog, where I post random pictures of my friends. The person from Club Monaco said, "These are the people that we need to come to our event." That's another thing Alex and I bring to the table. We have great contacts, and really active social lives.
We get approached by a lot of companies and retailers to do partnerships that don't go with our brand at all. Do you find that some retailers and labels don't get what fits with their own brand?
Alexandra: I think that the trick is that you can do interactive, as long you keep your brand identity consistent.
Carol: I think a lot of brands struggle with finding their identity--who they should be. Sometimes you're so entrenched in the brand that you can't really see it objectively.
Do you think every fashion brand should have a blog?
I think it's a super-important tool. Are there any in particular that you really love? I personally love Vena Cava's.
Alexandra: Yeah, they have such great personalities.
Carol: Retailers like Shopbop are doing such great editorial content. The difference between them and a lot of brands, though, is that Shopbop has the resources to hire an editorial team. Most designers don't have that. So that's where you come in.
Carol: Exactly! What's your day to day schedule? I'm assuming it varies quite a bit.
Alexandra: We meet everyday around 9.30 or 10am, talk about what we're preparing for--if we need to do a proposal, we'll review the brand's history. Also, we're currently running designer Kimberly Taylor's blog [which launched this past Monday], so we'll check in with her. And Kanon Organic Vodka is another retainer client, so we'll check in with them as well.
Carol: It's a lot of connecting the dots--sorting out the design and everything like that--we work with everyone from a design team to developers on different projects.
Is it weird just working with each other and no one else? Do you have time to work on separate projects?
Carol: We do a lot on our own, because right now there's only two of us. But Alex and I have been best friends for so long, our social lives are really intertwined, so we see each other a lot.
Alexandra: One day, I picked my head up randomly said, "Do you hate me yet?" And Carol said, "No! Do you hate me?" And I said "No!" But we get along so well--we don't get sick of each other. Thanks guys, so much, for doing this!
Alexandra and Carol: Thanks for coming!