As the founder and host of The Valley Girl Show, Jesse Draper has the distinct opportunity to interview and get to know the creative individuals shaping our generation. In an effort to share her experiences and learnings, Glam presents First Fridays, where Draper will outline her learnings from founders, CEOs, visionaries and more!
Where Harvard Law grads typically take the path of one of the companies composed of 2 or 3 last names, Loni Edwards dared to be different. I caught up with Loni in New York City at Olives in the W hotel Union Square (which ironically doesn’t serve olives). She'd been running all over town that day kicking off campaigns for Stitch Collective, the crowdsourced fashion line she created focused on handbags. Over a glass of red wine, she dished about work, life and Chloe, her mini Frenchie who has her own Instagram account. In fact, she showed me an app on her phone that is hooked up to a video camera at home that sends her a message every time her dog moves!
Edwards is also a truly genius networker, she knows everyone and everything going on in the startup community in NYC. You are guaranteed to run into her at any fashion, e-commerce or tech conference in the city. She has a passion for handbags, technology, wine, SXSW and here are 12 things I learned from Loni Edwards…
What is Stitch Collective?
Stitch Collective is an interactive fashion line showcasing and supporting designers.
How do you specifically use it?
We hold design challenges, designers submit sketches, YOU vote, and then we create and sell the winning designs on our site.
What are some of the barriers for new designers that Stitch Collective is trying to break down?
Starting a new brand is extremely difficult. The main barriers fall into two buckets: pre-production barriers and post-production barriers. The pre-production barriers involve finding quality suppliers and factories, and having the capital to meet production minimums. The post-production barriers involve gaining exposure and selling.
Through our design challenges, the designer finalists gain invaluable exposure via our community and design challenge partners. And if selected as the winner, the designer’s sketch gets put into production at no cost to them and they acquire a built-in customer base.
When did you decide it was time to make the transition to being an entrepreneur?
I had arrived at what I had thought was my dream career. I graduated from my top choice law school and was at my top choice law firm, but I didn’t find the work fulfilling enough to devote my life to it. I thought starting my own company and having ownership over my work would lead to this fulfillment so I decided to take the leap.
I know you went to Harvard Law School, has that helped you in what you are doing now, are you putting your degree to good use?
Definitely. While Stitch Collective isn’t a legal focused company, I still benefit from my time at HLS regularly - everything from reviewing and writing contracts to using the negotiation skills I acquired during the negotiation workshop I took while there.
What is your daily routine?
Running around the city from meeting to meeting and stopping into coffee shops and our showroom/office to get work done in between. I get a lot of Nike fuel points :)
How do you prioritize?
I make a lot of to do lists. There’s always a ton of stuff going on at the same time, from setting up and coordinating partnerships, to managing production, so to stay focused I make a to do list each night before bed with everything I’d ideally like to get done the following day in order of importance. It also helps clear my head to have everything written down on paper.
Who have created some of your favorite designs?
They’re all so different, it’s hard to pick favorites. BUT, if I’m forced to choose I’d say my current two favorites are the On-The-Go Crossbody by Mary Baker and The Ron Zip Clutch by Katie Tardiff. The On-The-Go Crossbody has become my everyday bag. It fits my computer and everything I need running around the city for the day and it’s beautiful. The Ron Zip Clutch is great for a night out. The colors are perfect for winter and I love the way the backside sparkles.
If you could offer the working woman one style tip, what would it be?
Since it’s freezing in NYC right now, I’m going to say invest in a great coat. You’ll be living in it for the foreseeable future.
How do you wind down at the end of the day?
TV! Current favorites: The Good Wife, Scandal, Homeland and The Mindy Project. And playing with Chloe the mini Frenchie, my adorable puppy. She’s the best.
I know you are dating someone, but do you have a celebrity crush?
Nope. Phil is my only crush :)
What are the websites you frequent the most?
I spend a lot of time on e-commerce websites for inspiration and research, Facebook to keep up with friends, and Twitter for news updates.
UCLA grad, Jesse Draper is a technology expert and creator and host of The Valley Girl Show through which she has become a spokesperson for startups and has helped to pioneer the way of new media content distribution. She oversees everything from pre-production to distribution of the show. Draper started the show because she realized there was no FUN business talk show, only grilling teeth clenching interviews, and she believes the most interesting and inspiring people in the world are the ones who've started a business. In her former life, she was on a Nickelodeon show called "The Naked Brother's Band". Draper also writes columns for Mashable, Forbes.com and San Francisco Magazine and speaks at business conferences around the world including SXSW, DLD, TEDx, TechVentures and STREAM.