No Jay-Z is not gracing your inbox, but PSA is such a dope song and it seemed appropriate. It’s Emily and its Wednesday at 5:30 which is why you are receiving the second instillation of our La Detresse weekly newsletter, Wednesdays at 5:30.
In this week’s edition of Wednesdays at 5:30 I want to introduce myself and share my journey to building La Detresse with my partner Alana. We get asked a lot of questions in interviews (and from friends) about how the whole thing started (neither of us have a background in business) what our roles are and what exactly it is like to work 24/7 with a very close friend. Keep reading and I will shed some light on all of the above.
I grew up in New York and went to USC for college. I actually hated LA all throughout my undergrad and my intention was to always go back to the East Coast and work on the editorial and PR side of fashion. As it would happen, I accidentally fell into styling and personal shopping my senior year at USC and never went back. I talked a big game, but the truth is when it drops below 60, I am fucking freezing and wear a million layers.
Styling was how I met Alana. We could not have been more different in certain respects. She was (and still is) 10 million times cooler than I am. She puts outfits together in ways I would never think to, but always achieves that effortlessly cool look that is unexpected. The aesthetic people often attempt to replicate and wind up looking try hard. I have (if I do say so myself) amazing taste- but taste is just that, judging something that is already in existence, that someone else created. Alana is a creator, she has an idea of something intangible that just comes to her at any hour of the day (or night). Being a visionary is great, but how do you take a vision and execute it into something that people can touch and feel? Well, that is where I came in.
So let’s rewind- I was 25. Alana and I had become friends. One day in May, Alana told me an idea she had for a denim jacket line. She may have been completely unaware that she was pitching me (I was a PR major,) but she explained that even though the denim industry was saturated, there was not a single company that focused on denim jackets as the core of a collection. Denim jackets were always an afterthought, something to round out a collection of jeans. I thought it was genius. Something that I have always admired about Alana is the way she knows and accepts herself without apology. She was so passionate about the idea, but confessed that she could not do it on her own. Alana explained she wanted a strategic partner, someone who shared her creative vision, but would help her execute the vision into a business. I shared my thoughts on initial steps that should be taken and I basically realized at the end of our conversation that I had nominated myself for the job as partner in her unnamed company.
As a 25 year old who had taken exactly one business course during college, I was alarmingly self-assured. I approached the situation with the same Type A resolve that had afforded me success thus far. I know people light heartedly refer to themselves as Type A personalities, bless them. My to-do lists have lists, Dropbox is my bitch, The Container Store slogan was written for me. “Contain Yourself.” I will try. I called my dad who worked in the textile industry and asked him to connect me to denim manufacturers in Downtown LA. I had meetings lined up for us the next day and I think Alana was somewhat shocked that it happened that quickly.
On October 30th we will celebrate La Detresse turning 2. We have expended from 4 styles of denim jackets into knitwear. Sometimes it feels like we have been in business 6 months, other times it feels like 4 years- it depends on the week. I explained how La Detresse came to be, I explained my role in our company. But what exactly is it like to build a company from the ground up and run it with your best friend? It is rewarding, stressful, amazing, exhausting, exhilarating and every emotion in between.
It has not been a smooth road, the past 3 years have taught me an infinite amount about sitting in uncertainty and discomfort. Spoiler alert, there are some things (no matter how much you obsessively plan for) that are not in your control. Shit happens. We have experienced personal lows: break ups (I feel like we need an entire newsletter for this), loss and professional frustration and disappointment.
Everyone knows that it is risky to go into business with friends and family. It is so controversial that we have even been interviewed specifically for just that fact alone. I am not saying it is for everyone- are there days where we disagree and I am irritated? Of course. But, the flip side of building a company with a friend is that you get to share in the wins, no matter how little they are. Your friends and family are of course happy for you whenever you succeed, but no one truly understands the sense of accomplishment you feel and roots for you more than your partner. The fact that you and your partner are best friends and get to go for drinks (Tequila only) after a brutal day or an amazing meeting? That is just icing on the cake.
See you next Wednesday at 5:30,