Interview with Carla Martin- Founder & Designer of Jeanne Chavany

From the humble beginnings of our ancestors writing symbols with a stylus, the flight feathers of geese to fountain pens, and nowadays, digital pen, this instrument “has been mightier than the sword.”An understated elegance that has been used by royalties to change the course of history. By enlightenment figures who shed light on reason and science, by freedom fighters shaping ideas, scientists that changed everything through their theories, by musicians that touch the soul the deepest, or by a hero soldier that seeks hope and solace by penning “remember that I love you.” A symbol of education, dreams, status, power, hope, affinity, unity, consolation, and purpose, a pen channels ideas and feelings to make a difference. Knowing that your words have an impact, protecting and managing your thoughts should not be taken lightly. As it happens to the best of us, our emotional wellbeing can provocatively be ruffled, and we lose perspective. To shield our reactions, we need a reminder, a protective gear that makes us examine the voice and the thoughts in our head before taking any action. For some can be a mantra or taking a walk, but how about a pen holder. Every time you are about to sign an agreement, write a letter of request, a to-do list, or create a vision, a pen holder serving as an amulet will remind your intentions, purpose, and how it all fits in with the common good.

New Beginnings - Jeanne Chavany
New Beginnings – Jeanne.Chavany

Speaking of which, an exquisite pen holder, named “New Beginnings” created by Carla Martin, designer and founder of JEANNE.CHAVANY can definitely compliment your style and be effective like a charm. JEANNE.CHAVANY, a French brand of luxury handbags and accessories, specifically designed and produced the leather pen holder in support of Professors Without Borders”, a non-profit organization founded by HRH Princess Tessy de Luxembourg that aims to provide free and accessible education to all students, especially women. JEANNE.CHAVANY champions the philanthropic mission by donating 10% of each purchase of “New Beginnings” to Professors Without Borders.

I had the opportunity to interview Carla Martin, to learn about her creations and how she handles challenges. I invite you to read and explore her leather accessories.

Jeanne.Chavany

Jupilings: Please tell us your story a.k.a. JEANNE.CHAVANY – 

Carla MARTINI’ve built my background in the fashion industry working as a purchasing manager for several famous houses. My entire journey has started out of necessity. A few years ago, I needed a new handbag. I was looking for something distinctive, something that would make me stand out, and fit my personality. My husband suggested, as a joke, that if I couldn’t find the right handbag, I should create one. I was hooked on this idea, as I have always been in love with leather. From that moment, I got more interested in leather and started to visit tanneries to learn and understand this noble material while surrounding myself with amazingly skilled artisans to make my ideas and designs come true. Thus Jeanne Chavany was born.

Jeanne Chavany

Jupilings: How do you describe yourself- 

Carla MARTIN: Drawing a self-portrait description might sound “pretentious”, therefore it would be preferable to mention that I have earned a reputation of being ambitious, passionate, generous, and competitive.

Jeanne.Chavany

Jupilings: How do you describe your brand- 

Carla MARTINJEANNE.CHAVANY is a cocktail of passion, integrity, boldness, ethics, innovation, and sustainability. A family-owned business, all products are handmade in our workshop in France. Each piece is made to order, unique in its own way. Customers need to pre-order and join the waiting list, it takes time to create the magic with a wait of 10, up to 18, weeks for a handbag to be made. This is one of our answers to reducing waste, whilst having transparency during production by sharing with customers the steps in the handcrafting process. Mass production does not fit our philosophy.

Here at JEANNE.CHAVANY we believe that creating by hand is more meaningful.

If something is beautiful and fair and made without harming people, that object has a spiritual dimension of dignity and appreciation of the work.

We are a Human Brand built on respect for each other. Our customers, partners, and artisans are our biggest assets.

Jupilings: Please tell us about the philanthropic aspect of JEANNE.CHAVANY –

Carla MARTIN: We all have a sense of social concern to support charities. It is the ethical importance of our social responsibility.

Philanthropy is not only the ‘right thing to do’ but also strengthens company culture. Helping others and giving back to communities is hugely empowering and rewarding.

From the creation of the brand, I injected all my personal values, principals and ethics. As JEANNE CHAVANY caters to contemporary businesswomen, it was obvious for us to support education. Education is the key to becoming an entrepreneur.

And so it made complete sense to team up with NGO Professors Without Borders, which relates directly to the brand’s values, to support education and empowerment in schools.

Professors Without Borders NGO was founded by HRH Princess Tessy de Luxembourg, whose mission is to provide free and equal access to quality education to all students, especially women.

Their vision is to create a global community of academics and professionals who want to share their passion for knowledge with students around the world.

Professors Without Borders aims to bridge the educational divide between countries, as well as between students and their teachers. They aspire to halt the brain drain by bringing teachers in rather than taking students out.

In support of this venture, JEANNE.CHAVANY has designed a pen holder aptly named “New Beginnings”. 10% of each purchase will be donated to support empowerment in schools.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. – Nelson Mandela.

Jupilings: Do you have a daily ritual to help you de-stress- 

Carla MARTIN: What creates stress during the day, is that we try hard to find a balance between work, life, and family and this requires discipline and organization.

My daily ritual: I look after my mind through study, after my soul through meditation and prayer, then I focus all my attention on work.

Jeanne.Chavany

Jupilings: The best piece of advice you have been given-

Carla MARTIN: Time flies by so fast, use it wisely as we do not have a second chance/life. 

Jupilings: What challenges did you face when you were starting your business? 3 tips on how to avoid or overcome them-

Carla MARTINStarting and creating a business from scratch is an “up and down” journey. I call it a roller-coaster. Beware to those who are afraid of high adrenaline. The challenges are multiple: from finding skilled artisans to the supply chain, sales and production, from marketing to communication … we face challenges every single day. Some are easier to deal with, some are more complicated. And the more difficult it gets, the more I enjoy it as this requires mind-stretching, looking at situations from different perspectives and trying new things. I am a “scientist” who changes the “formula” again and again and again until it works. If it would be easy, it would be too easy.

Simplicité Naturelle » cuff bracelet
Simplicité Naturelle » cuff bracelet

Jupilings: 3 tips on how to avoid or overcome challenges-

Carla MARTINThis is a tough question as it depends on so many criteria. Entrepreneurship is not a destination, it’s a long journey and its secret lies in the mindset. It is crucial to continuously push yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and grow from both personal and professional perspectives.

I would say:

  • Patience: overnight success does not exist.
  • Become the best version of yourself
  • Believe in yourself as the way up to the top is a lonely and often painful journey.

Jupilings: How do you motivate yourself-

Carla MARTIN: “Be miserable or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice” Wayne Dyer.

On any journey, there are times of joy that make me feel like I can accomplish anything, which gives me strength and motivation to move forward, but also moments of hesitation, of doubts, of negative feelings and emotions that could easily take over. It’s simply human nature.

Never wait for motivation to get started. So I have created some “strategies” that work well for me:

  • Work out for at least one hour. This will give me a lot of energy, good vibes, and endorphins.
  • Listen to favourite music
  • Reward me with a nice and delicious meal
  • Meditate and express my gratitude for what I got.

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

Carla MARTIN: My way of getting through obstacles firstly is to start by acknowledging that they’re there, to be honest to myself. To put me back on track all I need to do is to remind myself why I started and what lit the fire…I am very fortunate to do what I love and I do it with passion, this simplifies the situation.

Jupilings: Who inspires you and why- 

Carla MARTIN: There are so many amazing people out there who do and achieve so much in their lives. I look up to them with admiration as they inspire me so much. People like Melinda Gates, Michelle Obama, Lady Diana, Greta Thunberg, Nelson Mandela, Sheryl Sandberg, Serena Williams … just to name a few. If I had to choose only one name, this person would be Leonardo Da Vinci. He does not only inspire me but fascinates me. I would love to travel back in time to meet this genius and discover the “anatomy” of his creativity …

UCHIWA

Jupilings: Tips on building resilience- 

Carla MARTIN: There is no magic formula. Just be positive, be optimistic, be kind to yourself. And take action.

Jeanne.Chavany

Jupilings: What is the issue you want media to talk about most-

Carla MARTIN: Most of the subjects are well covered by media. To answer your question I would say; Education, Education, Education.

“Education is the foundation for our future. It is empowerment to make choices and emboldens the youth to chase their dreams”. Nita Ambani

HONORE CARD HOLDER

Jupilings: What is your life motto:

Carla MARTIN: Well, I do not have a motto on which my life should be lived or built around. It is more like a personal philosophy: believe in myself, I am curious about everything in life; also dedicated and very patient, never rush the process of “creation”.

How To Become A Fashion Editor- Interview with Zeina Esmail

Zeina Esmail, an award-winning fashion editor-at-large of Fashion Magazine and stylist to the stars, has a deep understanding of visual communication. Her interpretation of human motivation and needs through her editorial/advertising visual productions offers brands an opportunity for a stronger emotional connection with the consumers. Her recommendations bear in mind the psychological principles that trigger aspirations.

 

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Courtesy of P1M

 

Creating a strong concept and delivering the strategic vision in a memorable and relevant way to capture the audience’s interest is Zeina Esmail dazzling expertise. She brings forward a unique vision that engages and seduces the viewers. She remarkably shapes the editorial campaigns that resonate effectively with the consumers and wins them over by appealing to their short attention spans.

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Courtesy of P1M 

Let’s get started! Here is my interview with Zeina Esmail:

Jupilings: What is your story-

ZE: I didn’t even know this world existed. I have a Science degree because my parents are very traditional and wanted to make sure I had something to fall back on, just in case. I moved to Toronto from Calgary and went to Ryerson to get some kind of insight into fashion. Had a roommate who was working at an agency and then she started styling and I decided to try it. It was like 14-15 years ago, and I feel like it wasn’t as saturated then. I was lucky and never really assisted, and kind of threw myself into it and have been here ever since.

Jupilings: What is your role in fashion campaigns or editorial image-

ZE: The stylist does a lot more than just ‘style’. When it comes to editorial, we often are the ones who decide on the concept, the team, location, hair and makeup, etc. Also, we request all the clothes that work accordingly with it.

For campaigns it depends. There are sometimes creative agencies involved, but often times the stylist provides suggestions for hair, makeup, models and even the direction. Obviously, we are there as stylists and to carry out concepts through the wardrobe. You need to have a clear idea of a brand/designers direction and vision and then execute it the best way possible. Those pictures set the direction and identity for brands, so it is a very important process.

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Courtesy of P1M 

Jupilings: As a fashion director you tell stories, how do you find the thread of the narrative-

ZE: Through editorials, I always like to have some sort of common thread. You find those through so many different channels. Sometimes it’s the location that tells a story or the hair and makeup that brings a common element. Obviously, clothing tells a story, and you do that through trends of the season or by simply using your imagination. Another way is collaborating with your team to come up with the best concept.

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Courtesy of P1M 

Jupilings: What are the qualities to succeed as Fashion Director-

ZE: You really have to know what is going to be best for the job you are working on and treat it like it’s its own project always. You need to determine when you are hired for your aesthetic and when you are hired to refine/elevate someone else’s. Hard work is a given; you need to be on team ‘yes’.

Being creative is something that is obviously very important, but I feel like everyone is creative in their own ways it’s just learning how to really use it and gage what is best for that particular project. Often times you have the opportunity to do something amazing and inspiring, and then other times you are there to edit and elevate clothes and accessories that are already paired up.

Also, it’s very important to be confident enough to speak your opinion when it is asked of you. If something doesn’t work you need to be able to identify it right away and modify it until it does.

Jupilings: Which decade inspires you the most-

ZE: Hard question! I am so into the 60s and 80s!
Love mini skirts and all those shapes, colours and fabrics from the 60s. The 80s/early 90s has been such a big influence in fashion for the last few years, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. The big shoulders, big belts, colours, graphic shapes. Love it all.

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Courtesy of P1M 

Jupilings: What are the guidelines to develop a personal style –

ZE: I don’t know if there are guidelines. Follow your heart and what you like. It’s in all of us we all know what we like and what we don’t. Wear what you feel is comfortable and don’t feel afraid to step out of your comfort zone once in a while. There is so much out there for us to see now so if you need guidance, it’s always at your fingertips. Don’t buy things people tell you to buy if you don’t like them or just because they are trendy. Also, if you like something that’s bold try it in small hits if you are afraid to dive in.

Jupilings: Top essential accessories for professionals female/male

ZE: Men

A great jacket/blazer in a dark solid colour that FITS you. Don’t buy sizes that make your jacket look two sizes too big (that’s the biggest mistake men make). A tailor can do a lot for you or look online at some brands you admire and use them as a guideline for fit.

Again jeans that fit you. Slim jeans will always be more flattering whether you are 5-95 and XS or XXL. They don’t have to be ‘tight’ but slim is better than saggy jeans. Nobody likes to look at those.

A good belt and good shoes. Polish them often (it’s like $4 to buy polish at the dollar store and can change the appearance of your accessories).

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Courtesy of P1M

Women

Same as above. Good jeans for sure.
I also think jeans that stop at the ankle are flattering on everyone (and only as long as they are skinny leg).

Don’t buy clothes that are too big for you.

Don’t wear crop tops if you know you shouldn’t

Don’t wear leggings as pants. They are not pants.

A good black blazer. A must-you can tuck it, leave it open, closed, over the shoulder, over jeans, belt it, etc.

A white collared shirt that has a good cuff. Goes with everything.

A good pair of shoes and a good bag. You don’t need to spend a ton of money. There are way too many amazing options now for anyone to make an excuse about not being able to find things. Go online, shop resale.

Juupilings: What are the best accessories for male executives-

ZE: A great briefcase/bag for sure.

Good belt (it can be from the Banana Republic or a designer, and often you can get two colours in one).

Shoes. Don’t think nobody sees them-everyone sees them.

Jupilings: Your favourite accessory designers-

ZE: I love

Jenny Bird
Jennifer Fisher (she is wonderful to follow so you can see how she stacks everything and makes it look amazing).
Biko
Carole Tanenbaum has great vintage jewellery

Mix high and low, mix metals with your jewellery

Belts are a great way to define your waist and can give something very simple a facelift. Look at Emmanuelle Alt (editor of Paris Vogue) as inspiration to this.

Also, Leandra Cohen is a great example of mixing things in unexpected ways.

 

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Courtesy of P1M 

 

 

Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures-

ZE: Be true to yourself. If I ever skewed away from that, it always had a negative effect on me and my career. It is very hard with social media to question your identity and keeping yourself from trying to keep up with everything that everyone puts out there. However, it’s not all real or as it seems. So be you.

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Taylor Swift – Courtesy of P1M

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

ZE: This can be the most stressful industry. I mean let’s face it we aren’t saving lives, but people act like you are. You lose clients, people can say negative things about you, sometimes you won’t get hired for reasons beyond your control, a client can change direction, budgets get cut, you can get delayed travelling, and it comprises an entire shoot, the list is endless. You just have to deal. Thick skin is something you develop in this industry, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t affected by things. I really try to remember everything I have to be thankful for in my career and my life. Also, when things go bad, they always get better. It’s hard to say you can’t let things bother you; you just have to cope (as we do in our everyday life) and try to remember how lucky we are and fortunate we are.

Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-

ZE: So many people

I have two small children, so I often look at women in this industry that have kids and are successful (designers, stylists, other business women).

I also have some close friends who have struggled for different reasons in their life and see how positive and amazing they are and try to remember how lucky I am to do what I love and am recognised for it. We often focus on what we don’t have (including myself), it’s human to do so, and it’s really important to look past that and be gracious.

Jupilings: Favourite place to chill with friends in Toronto-

ZE: Bar Sybanne
Love Earls for their wings
Tabule has amazing middle eastern food
Terroni is always good
Buca for their Burrata pizza

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

ZE: This sounds crazy, but my dad always told us to think of the negative before the positive. Not because we should always look at the bad before the good, but because it will always prepare you for any circumstance and you will always be prepared. I try to remain positive but I definitely always try and think of ‘what can happen if ….’ and it’s probably why I am so OCD when it comes to my job.

Zeina Esmail has worked with Miley Cyrus, Gigi Hadid and Gwen Stefani and collaborated with international publications: Vanity Fair, Glamour, Elle Russia, French Magazine, Swedish Plaza and top Canadian designers such as Lucian Matis and Pink Tartan‘s Kim Newport Mimran.

Find Your Personal Style with Barbara Aleks

First impressions matter! The reality is that the relationship between our appearance and the way we act is noticeably strong. A few years ago, a study carried out by two psychologists, Hajo Adams and Adam Galinsky have shown that attire and the symbolic meaning of it influence wearer’s cognitive processes and coined the term “enclothed cognition”. In one of the experiments, they divided people into two groups; group one wore regular street clothes and the group two wore their normal clothes and a white lab coat. Both groups were asked to perform tests measuring their mental agility. The result was that group two performed much better than group one. The same results were observed in a similar experiment when both groups were given white coats; however, group one was described as painters and group two as doctors.

There is so much more to our self-expression through our fashion style that we can imagine among many things to consider that shape our image, is the opinions of others. Therefore, finding our style, one that is authentic and represents the real in us needs guidance and planning. Carving an image that stimulates our abilities, defines our prowess and is a consistent mirror-image of our character demand a consultant. In fact, I had the opportunity to interview a fabulous Canadian Image and Style consultant, Barbara Aleks to learn about her career and tips on how to develop a personal and professional style.

Barbara Aleks 1

Jupilings: Tell us about yourself and how you started as a stylist & image consultant-

BA: My mother was an extremely talented seamstress who worked in the garment district in Toronto, so I grew up around fabric, clothing and dressing people. I actually designed my first dress when I was 4. It was just a part of my life.

When it came to a career though, I chose to get into Interior Design as a profession and worked in the field until I had my first child. After my second was born, I started helping some of the other new moms with their wardrobes, and my passion was reignited.

Once I made the decision to transition into Personal Styling, I obtained my certification in Image Consulting and officially started my business. I have worked for myself, styling women ever since.

Jupilings: What are the qualities and skill sets that make a successful stylist-

BA: There are many qualities and skill sets that make a successful Personal Stylist. Aside from the obvious – being knowledgeable about fabrics, cuts, body shapes, skin tones, combining clothing pieces, different colours and patterns, knowing how to style those pieces, keeping abreast of what’s current – a Stylist also needs to be both intuitive and adaptable.

Every client is unique. They have different likes, dislikes, preferences, styles, comfort levels, limits. They also have their own pasts and experiences that shape their thought processes. Stylists have to truly understand the people they’re working with and be able to adapt their strategies to help their clients achieve the best results.

Jupilings: What approach you suggest to develop a personal style-

BA: When trying to develop a style all your own, I suggest becoming clear on what you’re drawn to and then modifying it to suit your preferences and lifestyle.

One exercise I suggest when trying to determine your style is to hop on a platform like Pinterest, create a board, and start pinning anything you’re drawn to – clothing pieces, outfits, accessories, etc. Pulling images from the internet or magazines works too. Once you have a good collection of photos, scroll through them and note the similarities. Whatever you’re drawn to, you’re drawn to for a reason. That’s your style. From there, take all the information you’ve gathered and adapt it to suit your life.

Barbara Aleks 2

Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures-

BA: Have a clear and strong brand and be consistent across the board – both visually and in the message. For example – choose your brand colours, fonts, visual style and written style, and stick to them. It provides people with a certain comfort level and improves the trust factor.

Jupilings: Three tips for female executives in the boardroom or top managerial
positions on how to choose the colour and the proper attire overall how to
dress for success-

BA: If you’re a woman in an executive or leadership role, you need to dress the part – especially if you’re new to the team or building your reputation. Here are three tips to help you achieve that:

1. Wear structured clothing with strong lines, avoiding soft, flowing fabrics. When you want to be seen as a leader, you must present yourself as someone who holds power. Structured clothes with strong lines will elicit more power than clothing with softer lines and flowing fabric.

2. Wear fitted clothing. Clothing that skims your body and fits well makes you appear more qualified and authoritative than loose, ill-fitting clothing (which just makes you appear sloppy, messy and doesn’t instil confidence).

3. Wear dark or bold colours or geometric patterns. These colours and patterns are stronger and more commanding than soft, light colours and floral patterns. While this might seem like a subtle change to make, when you’re a woman in a leadership position, every little bit helps.

Jupilings: Top 5 accessories to have in your wardrobe that reflect status to self-
expression specifically for professionals-

 BA:

1. Good watch
2. Pearl or diamond (real or faux) stud earrings for women and cufflinks for men
3. Structured top handle handbag for women and briefcase for men
4. Leather belt always kept in like-new condition
5. The best quality shoes you can afford, kept in great condition

Barbara Aleks 4

Jupilings: Your favourite accessories designers-

BA: Love Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Dior for accessories. From timeless classics to trendier pieces, all four provide incredible options season after season.

Jupilings: What colours are best suited and universally accepted in a business meeting for Female/Male regardless of cultural differences-

BA: You can’t go wrong with Navy and Charcoal Gray when it comes to business – male or female. The one thing to remember is to keep your look classic and conservative. Always err on the side of caution. If you’re doing business with someone of a different culture, do your research ahead of time to make sure you’re not going to offend in any way.

Jupilings: What is the proper professional attire for a politician to come across as
approachable (of course depending on the settings) however my questions
is more geared towards appealing to millennials-

BA: Even though a politician might be appealing to millennials and wants to come across as approachable, they’re still in a leadership role and should dress in a professional manner. That said, they can relax their appearance in a variety of ways. The more relaxed (and less severe) someone looks, the more approachable they appear.

For Men:
A jacket with jeans is more relaxed than a suit. (Dark wash jeans are a better choice than light wash jeans.) If a suit is required, removing the tie also helps. If no jacket is required, a button down shirt is more professional than a collared golf shirt or t-shirt, worn with either slacks or jeans. Folding the sleeves of a button down shirt a couple of times also relaxes the look.

For Women:
Similar to what I mentioned for men, a jacket or blazer with a skirt, dress or pants (whether jeans or slacks) is more relaxed than a suit. If no suit, jacket or blazer is required, a button down shirt or blouse is more professional than a shirt or t-shirt, paired with either a skirt or pants. Structured or fitted skirts or dresses are more professional than loose or flowing ones; however, judgment is required when choosing which is best for the occasion. When wearing a button down shirt or blazer, folding the sleeves a couple of times or pushing them up to the forearm, provides an easy, relaxed feel.

As a politician, you don’t need to dress like a millennial to appeal to a millennial. The last thing you want to do is look like you’re trying to be one of them – especially if you’re clearly not. Beyond attire, your words and your mannerisms have a great deal to do with how approachable you may or may not seem.

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

BA: When a setback occurs, the first thing I do is allow myself to feel the frustration, disappointment, or whatever feeling shows up, and get it out of my system. Then I take a moment, regroup, put a new plan together and get to work. When you’re self-employed or own your own business, there’s no stopping. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going.

Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-

BA: My children are my greatest inspiration. Everything I do is for them. They’re amazing people, and I want them to have an incredible life. One of the reasons I started working for myself was so that I could be there for them, and set my work hours around their schedules. I also wanted them to see that you can find something you love and are passionate about, make a career or business out of it, and find success in nontraditional ways.

Jupilings: Favourite place to chill with friends in Toronto-

BA: The Deq patio at the Ritz on a hot summer night is often where you’ll find me. Although any place that has good food, great wine, decent cocktails and a pleasant atmosphere, where we can hear each speak and have a decent conversation, will do.

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

BA: I have three. Never give up, go with your gut, and if it’s meant to be, it’ll be.

If something is important and really matters to me, I don’t give up. I may have to course correct and make adjustments, but I keep going. Also, these days, I always trust my instincts and follow them. I wasted so much time in the past listening to other people’s opinions and advice over my own guidance and then wondered why things didn’t work out. Not any more. Now I go inside, check in with myself and make my decisions. Then I let “I” go. Because if I’ve put in the work and trusted myself, then if it’s truly meant to be, it’ll be. If it’s not, I’ll move on.

Barbara Aleks 3

Luxury Bags for Successful Women – Interview with Julie Cantor, Founder & Chief Executive of Harlen

As a woman, as a leader, as a professional we strive on subjective experiences by pushing onto new boundaries, leveraging our skills and strengths to help others while embracing our femininity. Along the way, we learn to be versatile, organized and pragmatic yet equally with style. We recognize that to be in control; we need unique accessories that support our performance. Other than a smartphone, handbags are one of the essential accessories to flair our convictions, our way of life and our composure.

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LINE | TIBETAN FUR
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LINE | TIBETAN FUR
https://www.instagram.com/harlencollection/
https://www.instagram.com/harlencollection/

Harlen collections, designed out of a need for excellence by the graduate of Stanford University (BA, MA), Berkeley Law (JD), and the Yale University School of Medicine (MD), Julie Cantor, embodies sophistication, independence, and stature. Effortlessly stylish, the collection supports the tale of emancipated woman carrying a load in the twists and turns of her career labyrinth. Cleverly designed, Harlen bags are a perfected evolution rooted in practical and timeless quality, intended to gratify the hard work of powerful women.

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https://harlencollection.com/collection/curve-black

An investment in an amalgamation of simplicity, elegance, tasteful and contemporary style made by the Italian master artisans perfects our desire to do good. For every Harlen you own, the company supports one student in Room to Read’s Girls Education program for one year. A feel-good luxury item that unveils our unassuming libertarian ethos and complies with our standards of quality.

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https://harlencollection.com/collection/arc-taupe
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https://harlencollection.com/collection/arc-taupe
https://www.instagram.com/harlencollection/
https://www.instagram.com/harlencollection/

I had the opportunity to interview the brilliant Julie Cantor to learn about her and Harlen:

Jupilings: How do you describe yourself-

JC: A modern minimalist.  An optimist.  Creative.  Tenacious.  Organized.  Usually wearing black.  An avid fan of art, design, and nearly all things made in Italy.  Advocate for science, integrity, and human rights.  Engaged in the world.  Always striving.

Jupilings: What set you off on your entrepreneurial venture-

JC: I was working at an elite law firm in downtown Los Angeles, and I needed a way to carry my career essentials from home to work, from a meeting to mediation, from day to evening.  The options I found missed the mark.  One wheeled bag was too small, and its handle broke.  A leather tote sagged at the bottom from the weight of my things.  The look was always off, and I could never find my keys.  So I created a few prototypes that reflected my vision of what this perfect work bag would be.  When friends, colleagues, and even strangers were enthusiastic about the pieces and the brand vision, I decided to create a line of “modern career pieces”—designed for the modern professional woman who values quality, needs an accessory with form and function, and wants to move opportunity forward for girls worldwide.  She is a person leading a life of significance with style.

Jupilings: What is the story of your brand name “Harlen”-

JC: The brand is named after my grandparents, Harriet and Lenny.  (I adored them.)  Our brand values of juxtaposing style, savvy, and significance with equality, empowerment, and education can be traced to them.  My grandmother had great personal style—the kind you either have or you don’t.  She had a career.  And she had an endless collection of handbags and shoes.  I can remember clomping around my grandparents’ house as a three-year-old in her heels with one of her handbags draped over my arm.  Very fancy preschooler.

My grandfather was an advocate for girls.  When his two daughters were young, he saw endless organized sports options for boys, but nothing for the girls.  So he started the first girls’ sports league in their town (Levittown, New York).  This was the mid-1950s, long before Title IX, so culturally and socially, he was really swimming upstream.  But he made it happen, and my mom, my aunt, and their friends played softball and basketball in that league.  He also was a firm believer in the power of education and the doors that academic excellence can open.

Their house was designed with lots of blacks and whites and a hint of glamour, which inspired our aesthetic.  Their vintage black, grey, and white couches are in our showroom.

Jupilings: What are the principles in lifestyle that you want to manifest in your brand Harlen-

JC: Modern.  Intelligent.  Design.  Our client needs utility and style, and she understands the quality of pieces made in Italy by second- and third-generation artisans.  She moves the world forward on her terms.  She needs a piece that works in a variety of work environments, and that moves seamlessly from day to night.  She is inspired by the past as well as the possibilities for the future.  She is a mentor and a leader with ambition.  And she is unapologetic about it.

Jupilings: What does refined and simple design mean to you-

JC: Symmetry and clean lines.  Extraordinary materials.  The finest craftsmanship.  Making a statement through style.

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https://harlencollection.com/collection/diag-alligator
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https://harlencollection.com/collection/diag-alligator

Jupilings: What does intelligent and elegant design mean to you-

JC: We thought endlessly about intelligent design and the needs of women as they move through their day and their careers.  An example: Every Harlen closes with a zipper or magnets and a carabiner.  Because things fall out.  Because we deserve privacy.  Because security demands a closure.

We use—exclusively—Raccagni’s Super-R zips.  (In Italy, zippers are “zips.”)  These are, without question, the world’s finest.  I’ve visited the Bergamo facilities, and they hum with a unique blend of technology, creativity, and perfection.  And the Raccagani family lives and breathes zips.  They constantly innovate.  You’d think that after more than 45 years of creating zips that are as exquisite as they are functional that they’d be done.  Not yet.

That kind of intelligent design permeates every aspect of a Harlen.  It’s why we plate our hardware in palladium—it’s stunning, and it is strong.  These are, after all, work bags.  So they are designed to withstand the rigors of daily use and still look as good on day 1,000 as they did on day 1.  We don’t use the kind of leathers that are designed to patina, scratch, and age.  Ours are chosen for beauty and durability.  I like a clean look.

And all of our materials and ateliers follow best environmental practices.  Again, intelligence meeting design to protect our collective future.

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https://harlencollection.com/collection/diag-black
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https://harlencollection.com/collection/diag-black

 

Jupilings: What is the favourite aspect of your business (Harlen)-

JC: Without question, I love seeing how thrilled our clients are to own our pieces.  It’s so gratifying—especially after a decade of work to bring Harlen and its collection to them.  I also love working with our amazing ateliers in Italy.  They are the absolute best in the world at their craft.  It’s like working with the Steven Spielberg of bags, hardware, zippers, plating, lining, leather, and so on.  We are incredibly fortunate to have found these amazing families who also create for the world’s most recognizable and enduring brands.

Jupilings: What is the hardest part of your business (Harlen)-

JC: I think the greatest challenge of any business these days is to have your message rise above the noise.  We are all inundated with information, between your Twitter feed and breaking news and work emails, which can be more like instant messaging than a letter since people expect an instant response.  It’s overwhelming.  And our clients are not 9-5, Monday through Friday people.  They are working.  So the challenge is to engage these incredible people in a meaningful way in a world of constant messaging.

Jupilings: Please tell us about the philanthropic aspect of Harlen-

JC: When a client owns a Harlen, we provide the financial support for one student to participate in Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program for one full year.  That contribution provides girls with the tools they need to thrive and succeed: mentoring and life skills education, tuition and fees, books and uniforms, and additional resources, like a bike, if needed, to get to school.  It is a significant contribution with a significant impact.

We partnered with Room to Read because it is the leading non-profit for literacy and girls’ education, because it employs evidence-based interventions and continues to collect data on and evaluate its work, and because it works hand-in-hand with communities.  It doesn’t just drop off books and leave.  Quite the opposite.  It is a privilege to work with this organization.  Accolades and recognition from groups like Charity Navigator reinforce its quality.

We support girls’ education because, as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof has said, it may not be a silver bullet for fixing the world’s ills, but it’s the closest thing we have to it.  Widely considered to be the world’s best investment, girls’ education and empowerment can end illiteracy, improve health, stabilize societies, curb extremism, boost economies, combat child marriage, foster independence, and advance equality.  Its impact is breathtaking.  It reverberates across societies and throughout generations.  And it alters the trajectory of a life.

And our clients are unbelievably well-educated.  So we move forward the transformative power of education that they’ve experienced—and pay tribute to the countless girls who simply want a chance to learn.

We support other efforts to further education, empowerment, and equality.  For example, we have supported the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and the Japanese American Bar Association’s Educational Foundation.  And I am always interested in speaking with people and organizations whose values align with our own to pursue partnerships or support them in unique and creative ways.

https://harlencollection.com/philanthropy/
https://harlencollection.com/philanthropy/

Jupilings: What is the commonality between a social change agent as a law professor and a fashion accessory designer who is a culture-based creative –

JC: My work as a litigator and law professor led directly to Harlen.  And both of my roles—professor and entrepreneur—are about curating choices.  In my reproductive rights course, for example, I discuss women’s rights during pregnancy and how to advocate for clients—and yourself—within a system that does not always follow the best scientific evidence.  It’s about finding solutions within systems.  And that’s very Harlen.  I cultivated relationships with the very finest creators in Italy so women could have the best option for their daily career essentials that strives to be as extraordinary as they are.

Jupilings: Best piece of advice you’ve been given-

JC: Keep going.

Jupilings: As a Lecturer in Law, a litigator and female entrepreneur, can you please share five tips to tap into one’s potential to achieve one’s career or entrepreneurial aspirations-

JC:

  • Details matter.  Pay attention to them.
  • Be prepared.  Unless you’re doing improv, winging it isn’t inspiring.
  • Exceed expectations.  Surprise clients and colleagues with excellence, not just adequacy.
  • Develop good judgment and work with people who have it.
  • Be ethical.  And don’t work with people who aren’t.

Jupilings: What’s one branding lesson you’ve learned in your career and ventures-

JC: Develop and follow a style guide.  Consistency is crucial when sharing your vision and voice.

Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-

JC: Stay focused on the big picture, reset your goals, and be grateful.  Then keep moving.  In.  Around.  Over.  Through.  Whatever.  Keep moving.

Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-

JC: Fearless women.  And women who face the fear and do it anyway.

Jupilings: What does it mean to be a woman today-

JC: To have more opportunity than ever in human history and still confront a playing field that is far from level.

Jupilings: What is the issue you want media to talk about most-

JC: As a reader and viewer, I would love information at the end of a story or on a website with non-partisan calls to action, so we feel empowered, not just informed, and have the opportunity to take steps to use the information for good.

Jupilings: What is your life motto- 

JC: Forward.  It’s also my license plate.