What does your current job entail? Is there such thing as a typical day?
Lauren Cecchi: No day is the same. Every day is a new journey and a new experience. Some days I’m designing new handbags for new collections, other days I’m picking leather or attending trade shows to sort leather and figuring out what we’ll be doing in future collections. Other days I’m in the warehouse and we’re working one-on-one to see how production is going, and then everything else that has to go into a brand; doing the website, the blog, managing interns, photo shoots, photographers and videographers, hair, makeup, models, the whole nine-yards. So, no day is the same. Every day is different but that’s the exciting part; every day, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s exciting to meet new people, and it’s exciting to do new projects.
What inspired you to start Lauren Cecchi New York?
LC: Before I started Lauren Cecchi New York, I was a visual stylist for Bloomingdale’s, an event planner for Mar-a-largo in West Palm Beach, and then I was a buyer for 15 department stores. So a little bit of everything, really. I kind of took a little from every job and brought it into Lauren Cecchi New York, and had a better understanding of, you know, the fashion industry by learning all of these different types of traits. Visual styling was so different from event planning, but event planning taught me how to go from A to Z, and to include everything in between. And then buying, when I was there, that’s when I realized that there were a lot of the made-in-Europe luxury brands, so obviously the Chanel, the Louis Vuitton and the Fendi’s of the world, and then there was a lot of made-in-China brands, so there was made in China, made in Bangladesh, made in Vietnam, but there was not a lot of made in USA brands that were things that you really want to wear. There was a lot of handmade things, or maybe cowboy boots, but not luxury handbags, so I was like, okay, there’s a niche here because we have American designers that aren’t making here and European luxuries that aren’t made here either, so how can we bridge the gap? Then I just decided, and I started sketching since I was five, mostly clothes when I was younger, then I was like okay… When starting with a brand, clothing would be a little tough because there are so many fits and styles and fabrics, and so I was like okay I think I can go with handbags because they’re kind of one-size-fits-all, and I just wanted to make luxury handbags that everyone really wanted to wear on the day-to-day. They’re very versatile and fun to wear, but still sophisticated and classic in case you’re going from the office to night, or wherever life takes you.
What is the best part of your job?
LC: I think it’s all the best part of my job because it’s my dream coming true! So, every piece and every day, I get to do something that I love. Of course, finances is not my favorite, but it has to be done for tax reasons. But, I love sketching and I love creating. I really love the creative side of it all, but you have to have the business side of it too to be successful and for people to know you. So, I really love being able to pick out leather and colors, and when I’m on set for photo shoots, that’s another story. It’s so fun; you get totally wrapped up in to it and you get to create! And I get to work with my friends, so that’s even better.
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
LC: My first season, I really wanted to do made-in-America, so our handbags were made here. And I also wanted our leather to be made here, which, I didn’t know before I ordered leather from the USA, but they do it as the raw leather, meaning they don’t scotch guard their leather because it’s a tanning process in the United States, but they don’t have the same tanning process as Italy or France have used because it’s a chemical. And, so I chose this raw leather, I chose it in cream color, which was another mistake of mine, and without the scotch guard, everything on your hands, every oil, every little dirt on your hands, got transferred onto the leather. So I made all of these handbags and I put them on my site, and then I started selling them. People started calling me and being like, “Oh my God, it’s so dirty, what am I supposed to do?” And I just couldn’t figure it out. Everyone had to return their bags, I had to send them new bags. I was like, this isn’t going to work out. I would never buy raw leather ever again in my life.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable in your life?
LC: My old college professor told me to “do every single thing your boss tells you to do. If you don’t want to do it, just do it.” If it’s a six-week internship or if a job is temporary or you’re only working a 12-hour day, it’s going to end. So, you need to do every single thing, because the more you do, the more opportunities come your way. So, for instance, I was working a job and there was another intern. I said yes to every opportunity and they said no to every opportunity, so I got to do more things and more fun things. I got to go to the Versace mansion, go to fashion shows and I got to meet Russell Simmons, and just got to do crazy things that I never even thought were possible, but it’s because if you say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, many doors will open for you.
What do you look for when hiring someone?
LC: When I’m hiring somebody, I look at their resume first, and maybe their cover letter if they send one. And whatever can really stand out to me that makes me want to hire them. Being able to put a little personality in your cover letter, or your resume even, like if you did something like Elle Woods and scented your resume and sent it to me, that would be something that popped off the page for me. So, something that’s a little more personable. If I see resumes all day, something that really pops will be something that I’ll be interested in reading.
What advice would you give a 20-something with similar aspirations?
LC: I would say get internships, 100 percent. Internships will open up doors for future jobs and networking opportunities. I think networking is so important, and if you’re in fashion, there are so many fashion events happening all the time. Like, a Rebecca Minkoff’s store event, or Bloomingdale’s doing something, or, there’s just so many things happening in New York City that you should be out there, not sitting in your dorm room or hanging out with your friends all the time. Sometimes you should dedicate time to doing things that are in the industry that you really like. I would say interning, networking, getting out there; I think that would be my best advice is just meeting people in the industry. Not every internship has to be the end-all. When I started at Bloomingdale’s, I was styling, and I was like, “Oh my God, I love this,” and then I was event planning and I was like, “I really love this,” and then when I was buying, I was like, “This is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life,” and then look what I’m doing right now. I think every job or internship you take will lead you to your end destination and your end goal.