Truthfully, it's pretty hard not to root for Laura Vassar and Kristopher Brock, the design duo behind rising brand Brock Collection. Not only are they talented but they're also warm and gracious. It's rare to see the duo without ear-to-ear grins on their faces, even after the grueling process of putting on a fashion show. While it might be easy to attribute this happiness to the fact that their business is based in Los Angeles, perhaps it is something much more obvious — and slightly sappy. It's no secret that, in addition to being business partners, Vassar and Brock are married, and while working alongside a spouse could seem like a nightmare scenario to some, it might just be the key to Brock Collection's success.
Vassar and Brock met in school at Parsons where they shared a class together. In their CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award acceptance speech, Brock noted that a student dropped out of that class — a coveted course in couture — allowing a wait-listed Brock to take his seat. It would end up being a fateful twist in more ways than one, but they started to partner on schoolwork before they were ever romantically involved, with Vassar helping Brock on a project for a few hours before swapping roles. Through helping each other on homework, the pair discovered that they worked really well together.
"We basically realized that what one person didn't have, the other one did. Kris would help me with sewing things together, or the construction of the garments, or taking things apart. You were so hard on me — in a good way! — with the way that things were sewn together; I remember helping you pick out a lace for your wedding dress [project]," Vassar says to Brock. "We both complemented each other well, and we were interested in different parts of making a garment, parts of the process."
While they may have different skill sets, Vassar and Brock are reluctant to define their roles within Brock Collection, noting that there's a lot of overlap. They collaborate with one another on every part of the process, so that there is no single garment in a collection that could be attributed to just one of the two. They joke that they must drive their team crazy, but working in tandem is essential to their brand. "It's a lot of back and forth between the two of us; we're always asking what the other person is thinking," Brock says. "I don't like to make a decision without her there."
Of course, the other partnership that emerged from that shared class was their personal one. Vassar and Brock have been married since 2014 and also have a son, Charlie. Getting a fashion brand off the ground can be challenging enough on its own, let alone doing so while starting a family. But for Vassar and Brock, being able to bring work home at the end of the day has proved more a benefit than a curse. "We're able to manage our schedules so that there are times when we do fittings at our house; we have flexibility to balance our family life and it's so nice," Vassar explains. "We both value that balance, first and foremost, and one can pick up when the other needs to be home, or we're able to divide and conquer."
Because Vassar and Brock know each other so well, they're able to challenge each other in ways that push the brand forward. The flip side is that Brock does note the importance of learning where boundaries exist and how not to overstep them. "I think it's encouraged us to grow quickly as a couple," Vassar adds. The other benefit of being in business with a spouse is that they will always understand what you're going through. "Fashion is such a fast-paced industry, and there's a lot of highs and lows," Brock says. "It's really nice to be able to share those highs and lows with your partner, which makes them that much more rewarding."
Lately, Vassar and Brock have experienced more highs than lows, winning the 2016 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, which the duo call "life-changing" thanks to both the cash prize and the mentorships. It's their greatest achievement to date, but the whirlwind doesn't show any signs of stopping: Brock Collection is nominated for the 2017 CFDA Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent at Monday's ceremony, as well as presenting its Resort 2018 collection soon. They're also looking forward to the Fall 2017 collection hitting stores; Vassar and Brock both say one of the most exciting parts of running their own brand is seeing customers try on the clothes and getting to interact with them at trunk shows. But the best part for them by far is getting to achieve so much with each other, both within their relationship and through the brand. "I couldn't imagine doing it without Laura," Brock puts it simply.
"Together we've accomplished this, and I'm really proud of him, I'm proud of us, I'm proud of our family," Vassar says. "I think the most important thing is remembering to always balance work and life, and it is really rewarding to be able to do it together."