Protect the brand: Protecting the brand was a lesson I learned when we had to say no to a lot of what seemed like “opportunities”. We are a bootstrapped company and although their were a lot of funding opportunities that came our way we had to kindly decline and stay true to the bigger picture for the company.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Robin Harris, a fashion model represented by Ford Models, with a MBA in International Business. Robin Harris has been in the fashion industry for over 10 years, working as a professional model, designer, merchandiser, and creative director. She created MODEL ATELIER to fill the void and frustration that tall women have when it comes to finding stylish clothes that’s the perfect fit and length.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a fashion model the clothes would fit me on the runway but as soon as I stepped off the runway and wanted to find that same style and fit, the stores didn’t have them. It was constant struggle to find clothes to fit my tall frame, so instead of continuing struggling with this problem, I created a fashion brand to solve this problem and tap into this niche market I fell into.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most interesting story that happened to me once I became an entrepreneur was seeing my vision board become reality. I knew that once I became an entrepreneur and designer I wanted to be the leading tall brand designing clothes for tall trailblazing women. On my vision board was players from the WNBA, and before I knew it , I signed a contract and I became the first official fashion boutique of the WNBA Chicago Sky and then the entire WNBPA — Womens National Basketball Players Association. This was wild to experience and I’m still enjoying the ride!
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?
The funniest mistake I made when I first started was probably starting my business while I was pregnant! I was new to being pregnant and new at being an entrepreneur and that was tough on my emotions! I was probably the scariest boss at that time with hormones going and pregnancy brain I was all over the place! Yes don’t start a business while expecting your first baby!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think what makes my company standout the most is our strategic partnerships along with our minimalistic approach to design. Being the first tall fashion partner with the WNBPA and WNBA teams separate us from the rest. Our design team creates lasting designs with inspiration from the runways and offer more stylish apparel our customers.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Projects we’re working on right now is using fashion as a tool to empower ALL shapes and sizes. We have another fashion brand called Confidence Apparel that empowers on youth and adults to love themselves as they are. I think that Confidence apparel brand will help people be their authentic selves and also inspire others to walk with confidence.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
The advice I would give to female leaders to help their team thrive is continue to lead by example, celebrate your teams individual strengths and let the team know they are an integral part of the business. Team members need to know their particular skill set matters and is crucial to the company.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
The best way to manage a large team is to not try and micro manage, empower your management team, and be sure to receive feedback without taking it personally.
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?
Sara Blakely because I’d love for her to become my mentor.
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?
My husband is a huge part of my success. He’s the one that encourages me to continue doing what I love and to always remain confident and remember to think of my “why”. Our pact when we got married was to not only marry for love but that we were marrying each other because we wanted to change the world together. I think the bigger picture as to our “why” and our mission to make the world a better place is the reason I was able to start the business while I was pregnant, my husband knew I wasn’t a stay at home mom and that I always wanted to keep evolving.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My passion project is all about empowering others, so I created a fashion brand called Confidence Apparel. A percentage of proceeds helps with funding the education of youth in under resourced communities. An extension of the Confidence fashion brand is through our community outreach with a series of Confidence Chats, which is events where young girls can come and talk about real life issues, and leave feeling empowered.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why.
The 5 leadership lessons I’ve learned are:
- Lead by example: My team sees me roll up my sleeves and get into the trenches with them so they know we’re all in this together. No one wants a boss who’s not willing to fight with them or help get the task done.
- Continue to encourage the team: Everyone on my team knows that they matter and their skill set is valued and needed to help the company evolve. I’m a natural encourager and I think communicating to your team that each and every one of them matter, people want to feel appreciated.
- Protect the brand: Protecting the brand was a lesson I learned when we had to say no to a lot of what seemed like “opportunities”. We are a bootstrapped company and although their were a lot of funding opportunities that came our way we had to kindly decline and stay true to the bigger picture for the company.
- Admit when you’ve got it wrong: As a leader you have to remember it’s not about you, it’s about others and when you admit when you’ve came short, failed, or got it wrong then that not only make you human but willing to improve and get better.
- Promote the importance of self care: I’ve learned your team can’t perform at their best if they are over worked and don’t take time for self care. Self care can be promoted by a variety of ways even if that requesting the team taking 15 minute mental health breaks.
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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We have currently started a movement to encourage others to INHALE CONFIDENCE /EXHALE DOUBT. I strongly believe with confidence you can do anything!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Create the things you wish existed” This quote is most relevant in my life because growing up I always heard people talk about the problem, but never trying to come up with the solution. Growing up I didn’t have anyone encouraging me to walk with Confidence and as I got older clothing that fit was a challenge. I can say I’m a living testimony to creating the things I wish existed while fusing it with my passion for helping young girls with their self esteem and education.
Thank you for joining us!