When Laura Mills and Hillary Crittendon noticed that there were tons of quality brands across the country that could only be found in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, they set out to fix that problem. Their solution was to create Brandshop, a traveling pop-up shop that brings emerging brands directly to style-savvy women. The ladies of Brandshop sat down with us to share how they pick the brands they represent, why it’s important to support female entrepreneurs and their best pieces of advice. Meet today’s FACES of Charlotte, Laura Mills and Hillary Crittendon.
Tell us what Brandshop is and how it got started.
We create unique shopping experiences that introduce young brands with exceptional products to savvy consumers in new markets. We were, in part, inspired to create Brandshop after realizing how limited access was in the South to high-quality emerging brands. The brands we work with tend to be buzz-worthy companies that are well-respected in their industry — many have seen awesome coverage in the press and are carried by some of the country’s top boutiques. And yet, for several reasons (including a focus on establishing a foothold in the major markets of New York and LA and more limited brick and mortar stores to pick up their collections), many of these brands have no presence in the South.
This December 9-15, 2016, we are hosting one of our larger flagship events in Charlotte. Of the more than 30 brands who are showcasing their collections at the event, over 50 percent have never shown their product in the South before.
How do you find and pick the brands you represent?
It’s a lot of research — magazines, websites and even Instagram help us stay up-to-date on the latest companies that are making a splash in the fashion, art and design worlds. We’ve also found that referrals from the brands we’ve already partnered with are a great way to discover new collections.
How important is it to both of you to represent female business owners and designers?
Supporting women and female entrepreneurs has become a key tenet of our business. From the very beginning, we set out to build a company that supported female entrepreneurs — and initially we thought that we’d do that by focusing on showcasing brands with female founders/designers, which we’ve done. What’s been really exciting to see is that our initial impulse to represent female-backed brands has morphed into something more — over the past year, we’ve seen women (both designers and consumers) come together at our events and form partnerships and friendships that have extended far beyond the day or weekend we all spend together at our events.
Any personal favorites when it comes to brands?
We’re a young company still trying to make a name for ourselves, which means we work incredibly hard to present a really exciting group of brands at our events. Our partnerships are very purposeful — we know the brands we want to work with, and it’s such a thrill that these companies put their trust in us to bring them to new markets. Point being, it’s basically impossible to pick favorites!
Best piece of advice?
Laura: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” This applies in both life and career, but I think this is especially important for an entrepreneur. You weather a lot of ups and downs when starting a business, and I’ve found that being able to take an analytical rather than emotional view of any sort of setback has really helped me push forward.
Hillary: I’ve always found it is better to work together and collaborate than compete, especially in a world like retail, which can sometimes feel crowded. Many of the designers and creatives I greatly respect have taught me the validity of this suggestion through their example.
How do you like to relax and unwind?
Laura: There’s nothing I enjoy more than a nice dinner with close friends.
Hillary: Yoga, HSM or opening a nice bottle of red wine with my hubs.
Are you guys early birds or night owls, and what do you do during that quiet time?
Laura: Definite night owl. I really want to be able to say meditate or read, but if I’m being honest, my favorite thing to do is watch a good crime show a la “Law & Order” or “Dateline.” I’m totally addicted!
Hillary: I used to be a night owl, but with a toddler and a baby, I’ve been forced to turn into more of an early bird. I don’t have any quiet time! Check back with me in a few years.
Excluding faith, family and friends, what are three things you cannot live without?
Laura: Great water pressure in my shower, coffee and Sirius XM radio (I drive a LOT for work, and talk radio has been a game-changer for the boring, long car trips).
Hillary: Dark chocolate, chai latte and my new Hill House Home sheets.
Thank you Hillary and Laura for sitting down with us. For more information on Brandshop and their upcoming Charlotte event, click here.
As always, thanks to Piper Warlick of Piper Warlick Photography for the beautiful photos.
Keep up with the very best of Charlotte and the South. Follow us on Instagram — @StyleBlueprintCharlotte.
And be sure you’re signed up for StyleBlueprint Charlotte emails to get exclusive offers, fabulous content and the best “me moment” of your day! Sign up HERE.