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Today we conclude our Founder Stories with Amy Devan of Naveda Couture. In this final installment, Amy tells us how passion and hard work were crucial elements to the growth and success of her business, about her new Spring 2015 collection and what she hopes for the future of her brand.
You’ve had some great press already, with celebrities wearing Naveda Couture. How did those opportunities come about?
One of the biggest platforms that helped initially was presenting my line during New York Fashion Week (a show produced by Nolcha). It gave me the ability to show my work to fashion industry contributors, press, media, and potential buyers. Marketing and building brand awareness is an expensive endeavor, costing thousands of dollars each month, so the real challenge was figuring out what will ultimately help the business’ bottom line. I’m over-the-moon ecstatic and grateful for the exposure I’ve had and the ability to dress Hollywood starlets in Naveda, however, I’m much more interested in building this brand as a whole long-term. Of course, I’d absolutely love to dress more celebrities (and hope that continues), but more importantly I want to create solid brand recognition and real connections with my customers. A person does not become a customer simply by seeing a celebrity wear your brand, it’s deeper than that. I often think about how I shop, and why I follow certain brands. It’s not because someone else is wearing the brand, but because that brand has made an intimate connection with who I am and understands my lifestyle and taste really well. That’s the real goal for me with Naveda. I want to really know my customer and be part of her life through my work.
You just showed your Spring 2015 collection at London Fashion Week. Why is it important to show your collections at Fashion Week and specifically in London this time?
Just being part of the “Fashion Week” experience is exhilarating! It serves as a platform to present my work to press and media, but most importantly to potential customers and buyers. I am so very thankful for being selected to take part it in it. For me, it was a dream come true to share my work during New York Fashion Week in February and the London show was no different. We are in heavy sales mode, trying to expand our sales efforts domestically and within the European market and I look forward to the opportunities that come as a result.
What was the inspiration for the Spring 2015 collection?
The collection was inspired by “Sweet Nostalgia” – the idea that we all look back at a happy period in our lives or perhaps even a time with a specific person or in a particular situation. It’s a time of pure contentment and hence I’ve used a sweet color palette of pink quartz, rose, mint, jade, sand and yellow seed. Because this feeling is nostalgic and is about memories from the past, the colors appear almost faint. The beading is soft, feminine and in antique gold and gunmetal silver to reflect this notion of something beautiful that has tarnished over time. Still, there is beauty within it as shown by the shine from the crystal work and iridescent beading.
You’ve gotten to know your customer really well over the last three seasons. Has your vision for the Naveda woman changed since you began and if so, who is she now?
The brand has evolved for sure and I think it will continue to do so. That’s OK though, because we as consumers evolve, and as we go through different stages in life, our interests and our tastes change. With the last two collections, however, I truly believe we have gotten closer and closer to not only defining who our customer is, but finding a genuine connection with the Naveda woman. She is strong and independent, yet full of intrigue, whimsy and free-spirit. She effortlessly balances eclecticism with glamour, and that is Naveda.
What is one crucial piece of advice you would give someone who wants to follow your path and become a fashion designer?
I would say ‘stay passionate.’ I don’t mean just loving design or fashion, rather making your brand and your mission the core of your passion and staying committed to that. So many entrepreneurs give up when they realize how much hard work is involved in launching a label, or when the first few doors close. Use each and every day as an opportunity to learn to be better the next day, ask for advice from those around you, and listen carefully to your consumer – after all, your passion and therefore, your brand is for them!
Given the hard work needed to start a business, what are some of the sacrifices you’ve had to make to get your business to where it is today?
It is definitely a lifestyle change to start a business on your own, regardless of the industry. To even begin to dream of success, one has to be willing to work harder than ever before, living and breathing the business (whatever it may be). Of course, I’ve had to make sacrifices, like working into the wee hours of the morning and not being able to go to every social event that comes up. However, I’ve been extremely blessed to have a support system of friends and family that just get it. They understand when I need to miss out on certain things and never make me feel guilty for following this passion. The definition of “work/life” balance changes when you own your business and the line between the two somewhat fades because it is much more difficult to hit the mental “off” button at 5pm or on the weekend. You simply can’t because it’s such a huge part of you and that’s not a bad thing. What you can do to combat that is use every experience, every day-to-day situation, every person you interact with as a tool to be inspired, to learn from, and to see your mission through a new lens.
What is your dream for the future of Naveda Couture. Where would you like to see the brand stocked that it isn’t currently?
Currently, we have two sales avenues – (1) through our e-shop on the Naveda website, and (2) through other retailers. This Fall, Naveda Couture will be in select luxury boutiques across the country. My hope is to expand both avenues – creating more of an online presence and a real Naveda experience through e-shopping, as well as selling in more stores domestically and globally. In time, I see having my own retail store but that is a whole other animal I look forward to exploring when it makes sense.