Please give a brief description of your background as it relates to your career.
After college I went to work for Ralph Lauren, and to illustrate how archaic the company was at that time, we only had one COLOR COPIER for the all departments. I was hired in the women’s “rough” division (aka-country & western look). My initial job was to design the boards that the new lines were presented on. Ralph Lauren was thematic so each board created a feel for the line. If the Riviera in the 20’s was the theme, then the borders, fabrics and colors would reflect that era. I was promoted to the trim division and in charge of procuring all the antique buttons, lace, embroidery. It was incredible to be in meetings with Ralph Lauren and all the department heads. I worked there for 5-6 years and resigned a week before the due date of my first child.
How was Pears + Bears Clothing and accessories born?
I have ALWAYS been creative even as a young child. Interestingly, however, I do not consider myself a great seamstress. Even as I began to have children, I would just need some time to make something … small painted boxes… night shirts for my children. I remember one night my husband Scott came home from work and I said, “Just give me an hour.” With that, I took a potato and carved it into a pear stamp (you know I LOVE pears) and made some handmade note cards. A friend had a home show of antique silver and I joined in with my painted boxes. It was a great success. I hired a seamstress and began to design children’s clothing. The rest is history so to speak.
Name an early mentor in your career.
Absolutely Ralph Lauren. I was surrounded by creative people all my life including my aunt, Lilly Pulitzer. I love the simplicity of her clothes and the wonderful fabrics. I found myself falling in love with prints from the 30’s & 40’s, the feed sack designs from the depression era. Women would recycle them into clothing for their children. They are familiar and quirky at the same time sort of classic with an edge. My clothing is produced by a family-owned factory in South America. I am able to design my fabrics all with the same wonderful nostalgic look.
What is the greatest trend you see in your business? How has your business changed?
I added a women’s line to my already existing children’s line. It is amazing how well that has been received. I design clothing I want to wear: comfortable and VERY “mom-like.” So many women spend their days in jeans and a t-shirts; it’s important to spruce up and look pretty. In addition, I am morphing into my third website. It has been a delicate balance to keep my retail clients satisfied and realize the web is imperative to our success. Retailers today are tentative with their purchases so the website lets consumers see the range of fabrics and styles. We are in an extremely competitive environment with the Gap, J Crew and many others who have added children’s clothing to their existing lines.
Tell us one of your favorite personal extravagances that just makes you happy.
That’s tough. Two things come to mind. I will add something to my wardrobe that ties everything else together. Like the boots I am wearing by Pons Quintana. Extravagant, yes, but they complete many other things like the J Crew jeans and jacket that I am wearing right now. Also, I am not a make-up person, but every couple of years I go to a Trish McEvoy event and COMPLETELY replace everything.
Can you tell us a funny story or something ludricrous about your business?
Probably the thing I get the biggest kick out of is seeing my clothes on people I don’t know or seeing them featured in a magazine or on a famous person. I knew Brooks Shield’s bought our clothing for her children; it was fun seeing the photo.
Name the three things you simply can not live without. (exclude family or friends)
- My wheat grinder. Don’t laugh, but I buy my wheat in bulk from Montana to make bread, waffles and pancakes.
- My Saturday night date with my husband. We go to Cafe Nona EVERY Saturday and eat at the same table!
- Exercise-walking, Stairmaster, or weights.
To see the whole collection of Pears + Bears, click here
Elizabeth and Liza