Hey ladies, it’s Anna from Fash Boulevard with another edition of our Ladies Who Laptop interview series. This month’s spotlight, a self-proclaimed “bag lady,” has felt drawn to the world of fashion for as long as she can remember. Years before her globally adored brand of totes, cases, clutches, and accessories became a staple in every fashion girl’s wardrobe, Clare Vivier was so determined to achieve her goals that she listed “Bag Designer” as the occupation on her marriage certificate application as a promise to herself of what the future would hold.
These days, it’s nearly impossible to stroll through Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood without spotting one of Clare’s bags that blends classic French sensibilities and California cool. And to think… It all started with a simple laptop bag; a perfectly fitting beginning for our latest edition of Ladies Who Laptop. Let’s learn more about the woman behind the bags, shall we?
Tell us a little bit about your transition from journalist to handbag designer.
It was while I was working in French TV that I realized I needed a laptop case that was both stylish and functional, and I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I started there and slowly I began creating and designing new bags, and the collection grew from there.
What was the journey behind the design of your first bag?
It was a huge learning experience. I didn’t have the means to work with large factories and so I kept production local, where I was familiar, and we still work with many of the same factories across L.A. I kept it local because I didn’t have the resources or knowledge to do anything else, and that’s become such a defining piece of the brand. I educated myself on leathers and learned about production and it made me that much more knowledgeable when it came time for the next design.
Why did you decide to launch your blog?
When I first started the line, I didn’t have money for traditional advertising or the marketing needed to support the brand launch, so I created a personal style blog to create a story behind the brand. I documented what I was wearing each day, and it was a great way to show off my bags and how I styled them. The blog really helped to launch the brand, and I think my blog now is a great way for me to continue to relate personally to our customers and fans.
Can you share a little with us about why your line is French inspired?
My husband is French and I spent time living in Paris, where we met. I’ve always had a fondness for the French sensibility, the innate style and the simplicity that is still so elegant. I love marrying those details with the minimalism and modern elements that are so visible in California and Los Angeles. I think the mix of the two is what sets us apart and what I’m still drawn to.
What’s your favorite season to design for and why?
I don’t know that I have a favorite. Each season has different defining elements and needs, and I think each is challenging and exciting in its own way. But ok, it’s probably Fall—I’ve always had a fondness for the whole notion of back-to-school shopping and style. The idea that people are buying new clothes and accessories for a new exciting year is fun. And it traditionally means we can use cozier materials, which I love.
For busy gals that can only afford one handbag, what style bag would you recommend?
We’ve become so known for our clutches because of their versatility. Now, women can wear a clutch during the day and it so easily transitions to nighttime. I like that about most of our bags. Some of our larger bags are ideal for work and look just as good at night. Or, you can tuck a clutch into a Simple Tote or Sandrine and easily have everything you need.
You’ve said in the past that launching your blog was your best marketing tool. Can you elaborate on this?
Since I didn’t have the resources or money at the time to access the marketing tools that many brands use, I had to be strategic. Personal style blogs were just starting to become popular and I hoped that I could find an audience of women who would be interested in my life as a young mom, married to a French man, traveling a lot, living in LA. If they were interested in my life, I hoped then that they’d be interested in the line through these style posts. It turned out to work out quite well in both establishing the brand and introducing me as the designer to our followers.
In 2014 you decided to rebrand yourself. Can you tell us about the journey?
We came to a point where we had to change over to Clare V. from Clare Vivier for several reasons. It was challenging and there were a lot of moving parts involved, but I think the end result has been really positive. I think the name change and rebrand aligned at the same time our designs were really elevated and customers have responded really positively to the change.
We’re all about creating a digital footprint here at LaurenConrad.com. How has social media helped you grow your brand? Do you have any social media tips?
Our social media platforms allow us to continue to tell our story on a daily basis. I’m quite a visual person and the brand is so aesthetically-driven that it’s so helpful for us to be able to curate images and articulate the CV lifestyle with everything from Instagram to Pinterest.
I know it’s hard, but if you had to pick your two favorite bags you’ve designed, what would they be and why?
I have a soft spot for the Tropezienne, our first real handbag. It’s something that I think has aged beautifully and I love seeing OG CV fans with their old-school Trops that look just as good today. I think I’m also maybe partial to the Kenya, Sandrine and, of course, our foldovers.
What was your first “OMG Pinch Me” moment during those early years of starting your own company?
Definitely seeing women on the street with my bags—and it still happens. I can be in Silverlake, New York, or even Seoul and I never tire of seeing women who have embraced the brand. Also, when I saw Amber Valletta with my bag one day, I nearly died. (She’d always been on of my favorite supermodels.)
For all of the dreamers out there, the fresh out of college future entrepreneurs, what advice would you give them?
I always suggest going to intern at a company to learn as much as you possibly can. If you’re interested in a specific field, see if you can get in at the ground floor there and just immerse yourself in every facet of the business to learn and educate yourself as best you can.
Who would you like to see me interview for my next Ladies Who Laptop?
Let me know in the comments below!
P.S. Guess what? For the first time, we will be bringing you TWO Ladies Who Laptop spotlights this month. Coming up next, a rare interview from one of the blogosphere’s most beloved style icons. Stay tuned!