Meet Dorie and Emelyn of Of Mercer, a chic womenswear brand that aims to provide women with high-quality office-to-dinner options. Both women have said 'adios' to the corporate world in exchange for their stylish start-up. Learn more about Of Mercer's success below!
Q: You both came from corporate backgrounds before launching Of Mercer! Where does your interest in fashion stem from, and where do you look to draw inspiration for new designs?
Emelyn: While Dorie and I have always been interested in fashion, for us, it was really about wearing clothes that made us feel our best both in and out of the office, clothes that were simultaneously stylish and professional. In fact, I met Dorie the first week of Wharton Business School at an orientation cocktail party – we were wearing exactly the same dress. We both coincidentally called this one dress our “Thursday” outfit – meaning we were able to wear it straight from work to dinner or drinks that night. We bonded over how hard it was to find styles like this, hence how after much searching we ended up with the same exact dress. So we decided to do something about it! Of Mercer is a desk-to-dinner brand of stylish womenswear that is available at www.ofmercer.com.
Q: What was the most challenging aspect of getting Of Mercer up and running, and what was it liking saying “adios” to the corporate world to pursue a more creative career?
Dorie: Neither of us had backgrounds in fashion or retail, when we started Of Mercer. As a lean startup, we were doing everything ourselves, and it was a steep and challenging learning curve to get up to speed on everything from design to production to fabric sourcing. At the time, because we were so passionate about the problem we were solving with Of Mercer, making the decision to leave the corporate world wasn’t that hard, but we realized quickly that a startup environment has a completely different feel than a corporate one, in both good and bad ways. I worked at a company of more than 200,000 people, so everything was very structured and organized, which I missed a little at the beginning. On the days when the printer is broken, I still miss the tech department, but most of the time, I find it more stimulating and fulfilling to be in a creative, dynamic, and growing company than a large corporate one.
Q: Think fast! What’s your go-to Of Mercer piece during the work week?
Dorie: The Beacon Dress – its shape is feminine and flirty, and its print is graphic and bold.
Emelyn: The Stanton Dress – it’s a bold, striking dress that looks effortlessly chic all by itself.
Q: Walk us through what a day in the life is as the founders of Of Mercer – meetings, strategy sessions, coffee?
Emelyn: Every day looks completely different than the last, so things at Of Mercer HQs are never boring. For example, yesterday we had a fitting for some of our spring/summer pieces followed by a smattering of meetings and a late-night email campaign strategy session. Today we interviewed potential interns, talked with partners for our 12 Months Of Resolutions (get pumped – they’re really good) and are so excited to now be talking to That Working Girl!
Q: What would your best piece of advice be for fellow women looking to launch their own fashion business?
Dorie: Manage your time. There are so many things you have to do to get a company off the ground, especially one where you make physical products, so take everything one step at a time and know where to focus your energy. You’ll always have a new great idea, but if you attempt too many things you’ll get overwhelmed and not be productive. Build a really strong team around you with complementary skills who are just as passionate about the company you’re starting. Your team is the family with whom you’ll celebrate the ups, and the people who give you a glass of wine to get you through the downs.