This Wednesday's crush goes to the insanely talented founder of online boutique BLK+BLU, Madeline Perard. Madeline stands out to me for several reasons but most especially she is self made, and turned unfortunate circumstances into a flourishing business. Based in Kansas, Madeline manages her global client base ensuring each of her products has a limited number (no restocking!) ensuring the uniqueness of each item. Another fabulous aspect of BLK+BLU is that you will never find an item in excess of $100. The price point is fair, the return policy is excellent, and the quality of the products are guaranteed. Madeline wants the make fashion and style an accessible avenue for everyone as demonstrated in her pricing model. It's difficult to not notice the vast amount of products from emerging female designers. Madeline is someone who has your back, and someone that I deeply admire and feel lucky enough to know. She's as badass as her style is GRUNGYchic..
I was beyond pleased that I had the chance to sit down and chat with Madeline to gain first hand knowledge on how.. oh where do I even begin .. start a world wide online fashion boutique by yourself??! *hint* It's not something that just happens. Madeline had over 5 years of professional experience in the fashion industry working in the world of: Fashion PR, Apparel Marketing combined with a degree in Apparel Marketing and Fashion Events. I have learned a lot from this impressive woman, I have a feeling you will as well.
KM: How does one start an online retail business by themselves?
MP: Brain storm your niche and be committed. Ask a lot of questions especially about coding.
KM: What would you suggest for other young women who were interesting in pursuing a similar career path?
MP: Don't expect a sale or traffic right away, be prepared to explain who you are.
KM: What is a typical BLK+BLU customer like?
MP: Our customers vary I can't even pin point. Our target market is 18-34 and fashion forward.
KM: Where are you based out of?
MP: My office is at home!
KM: What is the meaning behind the name BLK+BLU? How did you think of it?
MP: I came up with BLK+BLU after thinking of a bruise and how you don't have to be sad when hurt, to instead focus on the pain that invented my idea to be my own boss. I also enjoyed the song blk & blu by Chase and status.
KM: Women of color have been significantly underrepresented in the fashion industry, on the runway, and as designers. How does Black and Blue help to change the status quo? Does it?
MP: BLK+BLU offers designer partnerships and has an amazing ambassador program where bloggers of all races are welcome. I think people seeing that we are beyond 'ghetto fabulous' and enjoy fashion forward, graceful pieces. Everything sold on black and blue is analyzed and picked by me. I would never sell anything I wouldn't want to be seen in.
KM: Do you think that women have an advantage over men in this industry? Why or why not?
MP: As women we are are very intuitive. What we offer each other is our relate ability. Trust is very important. We should rely on each for real testimonies.
KM: What is one thing that you find to be true that most people disagree with?
MP: As retailers we aren't just about the sale, at least not at BLK+BLU. We truly care and love when someone receives their product and it is exactly as described. Happiness is important to us. YOUR happiness is important to us.
KM: What were some of the biggest lessons that have impacted the way that you work? What were the lessons, and what was it like before and after?
MP: No man is an island, we all need help and now I have it! Before everything was on me and I started getting really overwhelmed. I now employ both Madison Moore and Erika Roberts - Fashion Students @ Kansas State University.
KM: How did you make your first sale, what was it, and what was it like?
MP: It was a dress that has unfortunately sold out. The hardest thing about the first sale was being patient, it took time!
KM: As a woman and a successful entrepreneur, what do you think women should be doing in order to change the imbalance of power in not only business settings, but social ones as well?
MP: Be able to mentor and help others in areas you struggled in. As Arianna Huffington posed, "Why do we have to learn through trial and error? Why not learn from one another's mistakes?" I created BLK+BLU online after losing my job with at a company I was at for several years. Without being given a reason why I was let go, I decided to take control of my own life. Before I was all talk about wanting my own business and this change made me finally walk the talk. My overall mission is to be the #1 online destination for affordable fashion. I hope to be the next major women's retailer, online only! I am always looking to help other female entrepreneurs around the globe by offering a designer's program to help with exposure.