For Kate Ciepluch, it's all about the blazer.
Before launching her jacket collection, Laveer, the Wisconsin native started in the fashion world working at the original Bob store in Madison. When its website, shopbop.com, went viral, she came to New York to oversee a range of categories, including footwear, clothing and swim.
While scouring the world for the next big fashion trend to hit the e-commerce site, Ciepluch realized something was missing: the perfect blazer. It's the one key wardrobe item that can fasten any look day or night. And so Laveer was born. Since launching two years ago, it's been featured on Vogue.com and HarpersBazaar.com, blogged about on Tory Burch's site and is well-respected among retailers like Nordstrom.
From her office in SoHo, Ciepluch clues us into her brand and how she's going to change the world of fashion.
Q: Why focus on one product?
A: I have a background in fashion, but not in design, so this has been an enormous learning curve. I chose to focus on a single category so I could hone in and learn the process of a sketch to a garment. After viewing collections year after year, I was always left wanting more from the blazer and outerwear category -- the "not-so-basic" basic [with] creative details, cool epaulets [and] embellishments done in a tasteful way. A garment that feels as special as a French flea market find but with an impeccable fit.
Q: Why the blazer?
A: I love menswear. When I thought about starting a brand of my own, this category was the first thing that came to mind. Tailored blazers have a cool sophistication that can carry you from a meeting to a night out. Business and social lines are more and more blurry, especially in New York City, which means you need to always look on-point.
Q: Why the name Laveer?
A: Laveer is an old nautical term which means to sail against the wind. Coastal life is a large part of my core and the brand's aesthetic -- whether that means Door County, Wisconsin, where I grew up in the summer, Montauk or Venice Beach. I was hoping to capture what we are doing here in the name, a classic category with details that are against the grain, like herringbone, leopard, pinstripes, camouflage and plaid, and making them feel modern and sexy.
Q: What's the best new brand you saw emerge out of Shopbop?
A: Tough question! The first Alexander Wang runway show I went to had a large impact on me. Rag & Bone for sure. I remember when the collection was small enough to only be on two racks in the showroom. I picked up Rebecca Minkoff when she had one bag called the Morning After Bag. I still remember when we viewed the IRO collection in Paris. I was a buyer at the time and we were one of the first US retailers to carry the line and it is now a favorite among the most stylish girls I know. Very cool to watch a brand grow and change.
Q: What's your five-year plan?
A: I want to put what I learned on the retail side to good use. We are launching e-commerce in a major way and eagerly anticipating the launch of SPRING, a mobile shopping platform that I am involved in. Mobility is the future, and you can seriously work from anywhere given the amount of genius apps being developed. I live in RelateIQ and Dropbox and Instagram on my phone. But I am more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type than a five-year planner.
Q: How do you define your summer style?
A: It tends to be a bit more sporty -- track shorts, vests, trainers. In extreme heat, I will throw on a crochet dress with flat sandals.
Q: Who do you admire?
A: [J.CREW CEO] Mickey Drexler. His curiosity is unwavering and he interviews his interns. How cool is that!
Q: What's it like working in the same neighborhood as artist Tom Sachs?
A: SoHo has good energy through and through. There are so many entrepreneurs who have made legit things happen creatively.
Q: What about New York inspires you?
A: The people and the how high the bar is set for anyone. It's astonishing really, it gets higher and higher. You don't really realize it until you leave. There is always something new here.
Q: What are your favorite restaurants?
A: For drinks/dinner, everything under the Little Wisco umbrella, Joseph Leonard and especially Perla. They have a peanut butter and jelly Old Fashioned there that is awesome. And, my friends are opening an awesome new cafe/ceviche spot on Suffolk Street called Mr. Rapidan.
Q: What's your favorite haunt?
A: Forgetmenot and Ear Inn.
Q: Any advice?
A: I just received this advice from a fellow brand owner which resonated: Open your heart when you design, but buckle down and stay guarded when it comes to the business side of things.