Communication. — We try to keep our work conversation during office hours and personal matters at night. We often have so much going on so it is best to separate the two.
As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex and Michael Toccin.
Creative husband and wife duo, Alex and Michael Toccin, met as college Freshmen and have been bringing out the best in each other ever since. After establishing individual careers in the fashion industry, they decided to start working together and never looked back. No day is the same for the creative duo — from overseeing design and marketing for their fashion labels — TOCCIN and LDT — to creating lifestyle content for the @ALEXANDMICHAELTOCCIN instagram channel, but MOST importantly, to being full-time parents.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?
Alex: Michael and I met the first day of college at George Washington University over 17 years ago. Although we initially had different interests, I majored in marketing at the Business School and Michael in criminal justice at the college of Arts & Sciences, but together we had a passion for fashion. In fact, Michael taught me everything that I know about fashion and continually pushes me to this day to have confidence in anything that I wear.
Michael: I grew up being surrounded by three powerful and inspiring women including my grandmother, mom and older sister. Specifically my grandmother is the one who pushed me to go into fashion. She always saw that I was extremely creative and had a good eye when it came to clothing. When the opportunity came to get a summer internship while in college, I worked for KAUFMANFRANCO which ended up being the fashion house that I spent 10 years working for in a variety of jobs including public relations, marketing, styling and sales.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you two got married?
Alex: This story actually happened prior to getting married. We have been together for almost 18 years and we both have a love for fashion. In fact, Michael planned to propose to me at Neiman Marcus.
Michael: The interesting part about this story was that Neiman Marcus was the first retailer that we launched our women’s apparel line, TOCCIN, in September 2019.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Alex: We’ve definitely got to the point in the business where we can identify what our different roles are. We used to both do everything and we’ve come to identify our different strengths and weaknesses. We utilize our separate skills now in individual roles.
Michael: It used to be really hard to “turn off” talking about work and now having the incredible team that we do and our children, we’ve realized we have to segregate our time. We are trying to be on at work and off at home (especially with our new son Jack being born this past New Year’s Eve) but we are always working on new ideas. Our daughter Liv has been part of this from the very beginning. She loves to take pictures and see the clothes — she gets that we work in fashion. It is really exciting to see our young daughter be part of this.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Alex: The spirit of our company is fun and authentic. What really makes us different both with our employees and our business is that you are getting a man and woman’s advice and opinion. We are both super passionate about fashion. I feel that I really understand a woman’s body (especially after just having our second child) and that I can work with Michael to design clothing that is new, exciting and can compliment a woman’s body.
Michael: We have been able to utilize our instagram (@alexandmichaeltoccin) to capitalize on our businesses and to showcase our lifestyle. Through this marketing tool, we have been able to build multiple brands and a strong engaging community.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Alex: We just launched a new fashion apparel brand for women called LDT. This has been an incredible new project for us as we are an exclusive brand for DIllards both in their stores and online.
Michael: Our new collection, LDT, is fun, exciting, colorful and joyful. For the first year, we have launched with dresses and are really excited about the opportunity to expand it into a full lifestyle collection.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Alex: Make sure you are clear on their goals for their specific role. With an entrepreneurial business there are so many different roles that your employees can take on and it can get confusing. It is super important to communicate with them their expectations so they can have an opportunity to support the business and grow.
Michael: Let your employees own it. It is important to not micromanage as I often find myself learning from them.
How do you define “Leadership”?
Alex: I define leadership as exemplifying success through motivating others.
Michael: I define leadership as being a role model and creating core values within your organization. Also, I find being a leader is knowing how to pivot at any time.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. 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?
Alex & Michael: Our CEO, Jayne Harkness, has allowed us to achieve success. We were supposed to meet her years ago and we were fortunate to be connected with her in 2019. As soon as we were introduced to her, Michael was very persistent in bringing her onto our team. She has a tremendous background in the fashion industry, a driven and creative vision and has been an integral part in the growth of our business.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Alex & Michael: On a personal and professional level, it has always been important to us to give back to our community. We’ve strived even as a young business to donate proceeds from our customers when we can. We always pick causes that make sense to our brand and use our social platform to draw more attention to them as well.
What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.
Alex & Michael:
1. Communication. We try to keep our work conversation during office hours and personal matters at night. We often have so much going on so it is best to separate the two.
2. Understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses. We always say that a type A and creative person compliment each other.
3. Finding moments to celebrate
4.Respect. We might not always agree with one another, but in the end of the day we have to respect each other.
5.Pick your battles. While we are both owners of our business, it is crucial to let each other shine.
You are people 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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Alex & Michael: We created our @alexandmichaeltoccin platform to make women feel good when they feel they are Styled to a T. This is a motto that we continue to use in all aspects of our fashionable lifestyle and really strive to express that you will feel so much better about what you are doing if you are styled to a T.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Alex & Michael : Everything in Life Happens for a Reason. It is super hard to practice this in the moment, but don’t be discouraged. Everything in life happens for a reason and it all comes back to timing.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Alex: Oprah. She is an incredible role model on so many fronts. Oprah has opened the doors to so many businesses, communities, and individuals and she knows how to make herself heard in a powerful successful way.
Michael: Jeff Bezos. He is a genius, he was able to take one concept of selling books and adapt the business plan quickly.
How can our readers follow your work online? (only ONE link will be included)
Thank you so much for joining us.