Plucky Pioneer No.11March 29, 2010
Good morning my darlings! Hope your Monday is off to a bright start. Please allow me to introduce our latest Plucky Pioneers, Rand Niederhoffer and Camilla Gale of Brooklyn boutique Thistle & Clover. The second I laid eyes on the T & C website I was smitten with the ladies’ sophisticated aesthetic. Since its opening in March 2008 in the Fort Greene neighborhood, the shop has become a major destination for up-and-coming designers and has won praise from the likes of Lucky Magazine and Daily Candy. Camilla and Rand have also launched their own Thistle & Clove jewelry collection (I have a slight obsession with their clover necklace—perfectly dainty!) and regularly hold trunk shows. Did I mention they serve treats to their Sunday customers? Furthermore, the two met while at university in Scotland (I met my Plucky partner Jane Lilly Warren at university in Switzerland) and described one another as “kindred spirits.” Clearly our type of girls! Below, the oh-so-darling Camilla and Rand…
Five words used to describe yourself.
CAMILLA: Driven, Outgoing, Loyal, Engaged (as in interested, not marriage wise although I am married!), Foodie
RAND: Fun loving, Adventurous, Hard working, Compassionate,
What inspires you creatively?
RAND: I’m inspired by everything from fashion editorials, to art exhibitions, to girls walking down my block in Park Slope. When I’m at work, I draw on an (overly) large cache of websites and blogs to help me flush out trends that I’m interested in for the store.
Who were/are your design mentors?
CAMILLA: Not mentors per se, but these are the people who have helped inform my personal design aesthetic: Christian Liagre, Hans Wegner, Imogen Cunningham, Elle Decor and my mother!
RAND: My first internship out of college was working in the fashion features department at Harper’s Bazaar. The women there in particular Kristina O’Neil & Jenny Levin were these amazing, smart, industrious women who taught me a ton about the industry.
How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?
CAMILLA: Clean, light, airy, comfortable, minimal without being severe.
RAND: I’m a total romantic at heart. I love pretty liberty prints and abstract florals. So I always try to balance out my look with some menswear inspired pieces and/or detailing. Midwaist belts and oversize cardigans are a current favorite. I recently bought a great pair of brown leather APC boots that I just can’t get enough of.
What propelled you to found your own company?
CAMILLA: Having a wonderful partner to work with. And the limitless possibilities that lay in store!
RAND: Definitely the biggest problem I had before I opened T & C was that I could never whittle down all my disparate interests. The best part of owning your own business is that you get to have your hands in all aspects of the company. Camilla and I are completely involved in every single thing that happens at T & C. We choose the clothing, we co-author our store’s daily blog, we manage our business account, photograph and style the clothing for our online store and interact with the customers when they come into T & C. It’s extremely rewarding!
Most glamourous part of owning your own company?
CAMILLA: The fashion, the customers, the designers, the quality of life.
RAND: Getting to go to lots of fun fashion parties and rub shoulders with men and women in the industry that you really respect.
Least glamourous part of owning your own company?
CAMILLA: If anything goes wrong it’s always your own fault!
RAND: Working 7 day weeks lots of times. Oh, and swabbing our deck painted wood floors- for sure!
Best business advice you’ve been given?
CAMILLA: Create a business plan, always pay your vendors on time, and have fun.
RAND: Just go for it!
Creative businesswoman you admire?
CAMILLA: Adelaide Lancaster of In Good Company, Jenna Lyons of JCrew, Grace Coddington because she’s so amazing.
RAND: My older sister Galt. She dropped out of Harvard to set up her own film production company when she was just 22. She went on to win the audience award at Sundance that year. In a lot of ways, she sort of paved the way for me and showed me that it was possible to shape your own working life.
What keeps your organized and on task?
CAMILLA: The knowledge that if we don’t do it, it will actually never get done (we don’t have any other employees), plus the “stickies” program on our mac–i love love love lists!
RAND: Ha! My fabulous B.partner and bff Camilla! Also a Google Cal and my Smythson notebook, which I use to jot down all my on-going T & C projects.
Moment you knew you’d “made it”?
CAMILLA: Telling someone that I owned T&C and then being told in return that they knew and loved my store!
RAND: At T & C, we’re always trying to make our store better. We’re constantly building and expanding our platforms to reach out to new designers and bring in exciting talent to the store. That said, our opening party 2 years ago was an insanely gratifying moment. It was the culmination of about 7 months of prep work. We threw it in our store, which we had just finished renovating. Camilla and I wore matching Lorick dresses and we were surrounded by are close friends and family. We even convinced The Hideout to make Thistle & Clover cocktails for us!
Describe your typical work day…
CAMILLA: Get to work at 12, greet customers, check in inventory, peruse google reader for fabulous new brands and indie designers, greet customers, check off items on my to do list, greet customers, close store at 8pm.
RAND: It completely varies. Right now we’re working on our two year anniversary party & launch of our Thistle & Clover Diaries second issue. So we’re doing a lot of work in Illustrator and editing text from our designers. Not to mention securing alcohol, food and party treats for our attendees!
Your dream project?
CAMILLA: T&C Paris!
RAND: Camilla and I have actually already embarked on one of my big ones! We’ve just started producing our own jewelry line at the store. It’s a small collection of 14k rose gold and yellow gold charms and earrings. One of our designer’s Max Steiner of the ever-popular origami Peace Cranes has been helping us realize this dream!
What goals do you have for your business in the future?
CAMILLA: To expand the T&C client base with more online shopping capabilities (right now we just have select pieces on our covet list).
RAND: I’d like to expand our Thistle & Clover Tailored Event Night programs. Since we opened, we’ve been holding cocktail party/ meet and greets/ trunk shows for our designers and Fort Greene customer base. It’s a really fun way for our shoppers to interact with some of their favorite T & C designers. I’d definitely like to add in an actual structured Q and A component into the mix so there’s a more definitive way for them to share some of their industry experiences.
Advice to other budding creative entrepreneurs?
CAMILLA: Just take the risk.
RAND: Find a business partner who you love to work with and who compliments your own style. Starting your own business can be both incredibly rewarding and incredibly trying all at once. It makes the whole thing much sweeter when you have someone to share the experiences with.