Continual learning — I crave to learn new things each day. If not, we are simply in a cycle that should be broken in order to grow.
Listen and observe — let others do the talking. Sit back. Hear people out.
Advisors, mentors, and good friends will get you through the dark times. It cannot all come from within you — other perspectives are necessary!
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erin Kleinberg, Founder & CEO of SIDIA and CEO of Métier Creative. She is a creative director and brand strategist. Erin is a true creative visionary — from her early days assisting veteran stylists at prestigious mastheads like W, to building her own eponymous clothing brand that was distributed globally, to co-founding Coveteur, Erin’s innate ability to conceive an idea and make it a reality is truly her unique gift. She has spearheaded the creative for Métier’s clients and projects, which include work for Dior, Estée Lauder, Tiffany & Co., OUAI Haircare, Moda Operandi, Stuart Weitzman, Miami Design District, and more.
Kleinberg holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Western Ontario in Toronto, ON. She resides in Toronto with her husband and their two kids.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in a warm, very family-focused traditional family in Toronto, Canada. My dad is a chiropractor and my mom stayed home to take care of my brother and me. From a young age, I had a passion for predicting trends and using fashion as an expression of myself and my creativity. I had endless projects: bead necklace making ‘shops,’ styling businesses, etc. I would show up to high school in turquoise wrestling boots and cargo pants with a bright Run DMC-style Adidas jacket and people thought I was nuts, only to later read about these trends in the pages of magazines. I was a poor student in high school, getting the grades by schmoozing my way with teachers. My family knew I was crafty, but unsure what ‘hole’ to peg me in for a career or focus post-university. They knew my brother was slated to be a Veterinarian no matter what, but would look at me and sort of raise their eyebrows. In a way, this double standard allowed me to create my own internal pressure to pursue my career rather than being pushed. Having my mom at home no doubt shaped who I am today, but there was definitely a void in her life from not working. This inspired me to dream big for myself. My mother has been the director of Admin at all four of my businesses.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
‘Every Crisis is an Opportunity’. Each time I fail, I internalize it — I’m only human. But I find that time heals all wounds, and by the next morning I have taken the fall and turned it into lemonade to only make that project more robust and successful. If we don’t win, we learn, and I have watched this sentiment firsthand as we hit new lows with our business only to utilize the crisis for not only the inspiration to pick back up and try to work smarter but also in launching a totally new entity fueled by hope, positivity, and community.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
It’s cheesy but in 2010 I saw “The Social Network” and the next morning Coveteur was born. Of course, I was inspired by Mark’s story. But the film was so beautifully shot, the storytelling spectacular, the script, and additionally, the score was brilliant. We listened to the soundtrack while we built the site for Coveteur and it inspired us to dream big and take a chance on something we had no clue would go anywhere. I am endlessly inspired by the idea of creating something from absolutely nothing — it’s all part of the thrill for me!
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I am a passionate serial entrepreneur. At the age of 21 I was able to create a line of clothing that I sold to Barneys, Nordstrom, Lane Crawford and 80 stores worldwide within a few years. I am by no means a designer, but through my passion for styling, I was able to piece together a small indie brand that was loved by many. Fast forward to 2010, a friend and I founded a company called Coveteur, which is a fashion publication that explores tastemakers’ closets and homes.
In 2015, I took all of the experience I had with my eponymous clothing line along with the Coveteur and forayed into a new business: a creative and branding agency called Métier Creative. I had built brands for myself through my history, but it was time to consult for other brands — startups like OUAI Haircare and Megababe and heritage/legacy companies like Dior, Stuart Weitzman, CVS, etc. At the time of the pandemic, I was smack in the middle of buying out my investors, so as you can imagine buyout + pandemic = recipe for potential disaster.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
Last year for the first time I began working with a couple of advisors on an ongoing basis. This was hands down the best preparation I could have had for this scenario. I was armed with a team of folks who had seen a real crisis before. In early March, they were able to predict that clients would be dropping contracts and jobs. My team and I were in shock and did not want to believe it.
In what seemed like a risky move at the time (but ultimately was the most protective), we had to lay off much of our staff in order to ensure they had a job to come back to. I felt suffocated and petrified to lose clients, have 14 members of my team (which I really view as family) jobless for the time being. That said, almost all were hired back within four months, and if we hadn’t done that, I don’t think we would still be here.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
It made me realize that client work can be fleeting, can pause, alter, decrease at any time. I had dreams of owning a consumer-facing brand since Métier’s inception, but nothing could have lit the fire and prepared me to put a stake in the ground and say — I am doing this NOW, like the pandemic. Last year we started a side hustle passion project called Out Of Office — a line of wear-everywhere caftans meant to evoke a feeling of WFH at the office. We were gifting and selling them through Instagram DM and had some killer wins. When we began lockdown, I brought the inventory to my home and I sold caftans out of my bedroom one day at a time until they were gone between March and May. We realized that this garment was the ultimate work from home garb, from home. We realized we had something. Simultaneously, the day the world shut down; my beloved grandmother Sidia passed away at age 79 from a battle with cancer. This provided me with higher clarity, purpose, vision, and I channeled my grief into building Out of Office by innovating and rebranding it to be named SIDIA, and set to build a global lifestyle brand all in the name of living our most effortless life through intentionally created product and storytelling through the generations.
How are things going with this new initiative?
One of my pillars in life and business is the concept of continual learning. It’s simple but necessary to fulfill me as an entrepreneur. If I’m not learning something new each day, I don’t view it as a success.
SIDIA has allowed me to take all of the learnings, relationships, and experiences I’ve had thus far, and build a business finally armed with my real-life MBA. I feel like I’ve seen a lot and have handled many scenarios that armed me to take on more in different ways. Being on the advertising and creative side of things has been a dream, but now being on the execution side of the business and dealing with the full system from A — Z has been massive learning but I thrive off the fails. It makes our team stronger and I love learning a ‘new business’ almost from the ground up. It’s quite humbling to be the newbie and act as a sponge learning from creative entrepreneurs and business owners around us. I also feel that it has made our Métier immensely strong as we can now speak from the experience of truly running both sides.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I met Jenna Wise six or so years ago when she headed up global digital at Stuart Weitzman and hired Métier. We instantly connected and actually reconnected during the early days of quarantine. She is now one of my confidantes in both, life and work, and is on our advisory board. She constantly uplifts my game and believes in my vision wholeheartedly. I am beyond lucky to have mentors like Jenna to join me on this journey, as it takes a village!
One of my other mentors, Paul Silvertown, became an advisor about a year and a half ago — he helped build Canada Goose up to what it is today and has built many of his own businesses and guides others on the daily. In a way, Paul is like my “career trainer”. Our chats are exhausting, sometimes frightening, and exhilarating as all hell. But he pushes me to explore why I’m here and where we are going, enforcing structure, focus, and discipline. As a creative entrepreneur, I need this. We should all be so lucky to have a Paul!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
The shift from wanting to expand OOO / SIDIA but timing not being right to everyone around me getting on the same page and KNOWING this is right, even pushing me to delve deeper and build out a full entity has been so exhilarating. It’s almost a ‘be careful what you wish for’ type thing. It feels so incredible to be able to create a vision that people can buy into, and work with you to crystallize, evangelize, and execute. That’s why I’m here.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
No matter how entrepreneurial or brilliant you are in school, the 10,000-hour rule stands strong. Until you experience crises, wins, pivots, you won’t be fully ready to handle them. I only spent three years in university, and I think it served me well to get a ton of on the ground experience in those early years of my twenties.
- Change is constant!!!!!
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
- You are going to be ok, even without an MBA
- Fake it till you make it (to an extent), and then once you have your two feet on the ground, OWN IT!
- Stop and celebrate every win — especially in the times we live in where all the days are meshing together as one in quarantine, be proud of the wins — feel the feels! Not to sound like Ferris Bueller but if you don’t stop, you’ll miss it.
- Continual learning — I crave to learn new things each day. If not, we are simply in a cycle that should be broken in order to grow
- Listen and observe — let others do the talking. Sit back. Hear people out.
- Advisors, mentors, and good friends will get you through the dark times. It cannot all come from within you — other perspectives are necessary!
- Know where you are going. Although it’s annoying when people ask you — what’s the 3, 5, 10-year plan — you must know what you want. At the end of the day, it’s your life, your career and you need to have some sense of direction. In my 20s I just thought if I worked super hard, I would get ‘there’ but I didn’t know what the ‘there’ was! Now I work daily to understand what my strategic goals are.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
- Get your work done in your personal optimal windows during the day — it will serve you best.
- Jeff Bezos’ famous line about not making big decisions past 3pm each day, and having important meetings in the am when you are fresh: I live by this because it works for me personally.
- Create balance and structure. Put your phone away. I can’t stress this enough. Whenever I’m away from IG, out in nature, spending time with family without my phone is when I’m feeding my soul. That is what the world needs right now…
- My wellness routine fuels me; ensuring I do my skincare routine, long early morning walks, 7 hours of sleep. Lots of time with loved ones!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
For women to live unrestrained, effortlessly, and with ease each day. To allow them to be their best selves, and work together to inspire positivity and connectedness in our community. I am doing this by creating intentional, beautifully designed and utilitarian products that women live in as their uniform. Our pieces can be worn by women of all ages. I aspire to put out products and content into the culture that resonate, and change women’s lives, even in a really simple sense (ie — helping them to solve the issue of not knowing what to wear on a busy weekday morning). SIDIA is always there on your best day, but also on your worst to provide comfort, ease, simplicity, and innate style.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Guy Raz! I have listened to every single HIBT and derive much inspiration from the interviews. I love that he chooses such charismatic founders and he would be the ULTIMATE brain pick!!!!!
Nancy Meyers! I adore her creativity, her genius mind, the worlds that she builds and the characters she develops. She has created such a sense of comfort, ease, and nostalgia for all of us — and those kitchens in the films! DAMN! Her eye for interiors is a passion of mine!
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!