Bombshell caught up with Delicia Cordon of the De’Cordon clothing line advertised on fashion blogs throughout the virtual nation and Keisha Gilchrist, owner of a lucrative salon franchise. They dished on their respective journeys and gave us a how-to guide to not only survive in their respective businesses but to thrive and in the words of the great Dr. Maya Angelou, to do so with some passion, some compassion and some style. Be inspired. Be empowered.
Fashion Designer/Curator of De’Cordon Fashion Line/Fashion Stylist
B: What prompted you to launch your own clothing brand?
D: As funny as it sounds it initially started from me seeing a girl at the club who had on the same exact outfit as me! But I’ve always been heavy into fashion. Ever since I was a little girl my mother said that I used to put my clothes together in certain ways-I was always particular about what I wore. I originally wanted to do custom pieces-to not have one piece be the same but that was overwhelming. So I created the whole brand and got a team on board.
B: How long of a process was it way back from seeing a girl in the club with your outfit on to launching your own fashion house?
D: I would say that it took about a year. I’ve had to work with different seamstresses to get my designs right but it took maybe about 8 months to a year.
B: Do you sketch out all your designs?
D: Yes I do. I sketch them out and I have a young lady who makes the patterns and a brilliant team that creates the clothing.
B: What’s the most challenging thing about being a business women and forging out your own name in the cut throat fashion industry?
D: Keeping your originality. It’s a challenge when you come out with an original design and it gets redone so many times that they forget the designs originator. There’s nothing wrong with being inspired. I get inspired too but I believe in retaining originality. It’s especially hard with social media sites making things more accessible.
B: What are you’re doing to combat that?
D: I would say that my work speaks for itself as does my business skills. My work ethic is relentless. People see that and take me seriously because of it.
B: What’s the best thing about creating your own fashion line?
D: Definitely being my own boss and having people respecting me for that. I’m not being taken care of. I raise my children and I have my own business. It’s very empowering.
B: What kind of women is the De’Cordon collection geared towards?
D: Funny you should say that because I recently launched what is called The Sex Symbol Collection. There’s more street fashion there than evening wear but the collection is geared towards the sexy, confident and bold women. My clothes are for the woman who is prepared to stand out.
B: Where do you hope to be in another five years?
D: I’m hoping to be in a lot of the major department stores, Macy’s, Saks and Neiman Marcus for sure. I want to open up my own boutique which I’m working on. I’m also in the process of growing my children’s line (Atalia Love) and launching my men’s line. I have a skin care line coming out very soon too.
B: So you’re not busy or anything.
D: Just some light work.
Owner of WEX Hair Salon/Curator of Style De Vie Interior Design Company
B: What work do you do with Style de Vie?
K: Well, since 2002 we’ve been an interior design full scoop company that guts and transform homes. It’s really my passion. When I was in college, I wanted to major in art and my parents said they wouldn’t pay for my education majoring in art so I got my degree in mass communications and marketing. I’m not formally trained, but I was able to design for a high profile client who is an athlete. From there on my work spread and I began to get referrals to do different people’s homes.
B: How would you sum up your drive for success?
K: My skill is recognizing a need and understanding how to fulfill it. I recognized the need for affordable hair care. We give quality hair at an affordable price. There was a need for that in the black community. In Florida (WEX Hair Salon) we have a $50.00 full service salon; that’s an unheard of price; we give our customers the full salon experience.
B: Tell me the story about how you came to be the owner of WEX salon?
K: I knew that I never wanted to work for anybody. I failed at a couple of jobs right out of college and as far as I got in those jobs I never felt fulfilled. I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I loved being able to go out and get it myself. I loved the fact that my income coincided directly to how hard I worked. When I work for myself it really is sky’s the limit. I can’t even describe the type of freedom that comes with working for yourself. It’s hard work but it’s worth it.
B: How did you go from starting one salon to owning multiple businesses?
K: I really did the research. I have a background in real estate so that knowledge helped me to understand location prices. I researched how much I would need to cover the costs of a startup salon and all it entailed; supplies, staffing… It was crazy but I didn’t do it alone. I have a capable, wonderful team.
B: Where do you hope to take your career and as woman of many trades, do you have any advice for others who wish to mirror your career path?
K: This may sound bad, but I hope to be in apposition to sell some of my salons and go back to school and get my degree in interior design. I want to be in a position where I can follow my passion. That’s my advice for others. You must follow your passion; that’s how you’ll have the most longevity and fulfillment.