Fly Female Entrepreneur
We’re kicking off our Fly Female Entrepreneur series with Erin Braxton, a smart and sassy L.A.-based designer – definitely one to watch. On a chilly December evening, Erin Braxton sat down with In Her Shoes to chat about her luxury loungewear line, the transition from advertising executive to fashion designer, and life as an entrepreneur.
Prior to launching the Erin Braxton line, you had a very successful career in the advertising and marketing industry. Why and how did you segue into designing women’s loungewear?
Frustrated with my day job and working for others, I knew that eventually I would need to get out and do something else with my life. While I was able to be successful in advertising, I knew that my highs were only temporary, any rewards I received were too few and my success was gauged and controlled by others. I simply couldn’t accept that.
During a weekend shopping spree with my best friend we hit every TJ Maxx and Marshalls in Dallas, TX looking for cool pajamas and sleepwear. When we were sitting around trying to decide what to take back, I kept all of my cool pj sets and lounge pieces. I’ve always been creative, but not so much in the traditional sense. I knew I had ideas so I decided to start a line. I sketched, took sewing lessons, read, researched and explored and just did it. I was still working on my business full-time four years after I officially set up the company! Now I’m doing it full-time.
Did you have any idea during that time in your life that the great advertising/marketing experience you were gaining would one day help build your own brand?
My career and the lessons I’ve learned have been invaluable. Not only with what I was actually doing on a day-to-day basis, but with the hard work and the interaction with new and interesting people. In my career, I really learned how to get things done. And nothing was off limits. Sort of like my clothing line. I’m actually not great at marketing my business considering my background, but I’m improving!
Can you give us an idea of what a day in Erin Braxton’s shoes is like?
The bulk of my days are spent running around L.A., meeting with contractors, talking on the phone with clients, sourcing, etc. Actually, less of what I do is really designing my collection.
A lot of times I try and stay current with other women who are entrepreneurs as well. I feel like God continues to draw those types of women to me. Recently, I had lunch with a new associate/friend who has a very successful company. I love talking to other women entrepreneurs. Those are the days I love.
I work seven days a week at all hours. I work harder than I ever worked on any other job but I don’t mind it at all because I’m working for myself!
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made during your entrepreneurial journey and how did you bounce back?
I’ve made a ton of mistakes. And costly ones, too. But the one thing I wish I would have done was leave my advertising career before I did. I now know that I was just playing at my business rather than actually doing it. It’s very difficult to really go for your dreams when you have a regular paycheck to fall back on.
What is your design philosophy?
Simple, clean, contemporary designs that are wearable and realistic for the everyday woman.
Which designers have inspired you most over the years?
I don’t have one designer that inspires me but some of my favorites include Diane Von Furstenberg because she took something simple and made it timeless with her classic wrap dress. I’ve had mine for 10 years and I still wear it! Catherine Malandrino is also a favorite because her looks are so feminine – completely different than what I do but they are really beautiful.
Which U.S. retailers carry the Erin Braxton brand?
There are several boutiques around the country that carry my line including:
Black Satin at Wynn Las Vegas
Trousseau (Chicago, IL)
Bravo Boutique (Tucson, AZ)
Top Drawer (Houston, TX)
Fred Segal Fun (Santa Monica, CA)
Any closing thoughts?
I just encourage people to go after their dreams and make sure they are really passionate about a business before they embark on that journey. I would never discourage anyone from starting their own business, but when people told me it was going to be hard, I had no idea what the adjective “hard” meant. I just thought people were hating on my dreams. While some of them were, some were simply telling me the truth.
Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. It requires risks to be taken that many people are not willing to take. It is scary when you don’t know where your next check is coming from. Everyone isn’t built to function like that and those who aren’t shouldn’t be ashamed of that. It takes all kinds to make the world go round. But those who are willing to take the risk and do what it takes for the pay off should go for it!
For additional information about Erin Braxton, please visit www.erinbraxton.com.