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This March ORLY is celebrating Women’s History Month by featuring twelve women who inspire us.

Each day we’ll be posting a Q&A and a New Woman’s History Month polish trio hand selected by each of our featured women.

The celebration doesn’t stop there - 10% of sales from all Women’s History Month trios will be donated to Downtown Women's Center.

Act fast!
Trios will only be available through March 31, 2020.
Click here to shop.

 

CLAIRE HARLIN

Owner/Designer, Classic Rock Couture

How did you know you had the right idea? How much did this idea change from initial concept to launching your brand?

My business started as a hobby, posting photos on Instagram that inspired me, either of style ideas or vintage items I had thrifted. Sometimes it was classic rock stars and style icons I looked up to. It was purely a creative outlet for inspiration. I eventually was laid off from my corporate job (a blessing in disguise) and started selling vintage clothing through my IG to make ends meet. I was also making jewelry in my friend's garage, because I was broke and didn't even have a place to live at that time. When I reached about 10K followers on IG, I realized I should focus on fashion as a full-time business, but I still didn't have my niche completely figured out-- I was kind of all over the place, selling jewelry, clothing, housewares, and whatever I liked really, but I wasn't getting far with it, and I was still broke at the end of working 14-hour days. I finally took a major leap and decided to produce my own ideas, and ventured into fashion design. I didn't have the money to fund a production from a legit cut/sew agency, but I found one that liked my designs enough to take a chance on making samples for me. With those samples I ran a presale that pulled in well over enough to fund a production, and more importantly, I realized for the first time that people actually dig my ideas! So the business has just grown from there and I've continued putting my designs out into the world. The business today is way different (and way more successful) than how it started. I never thought I'd be a self-taught fashion designer and brand owner, and I still am not sure if I have the “right” idea, but I know I have a lot of happy customers out there, and many many more ideas to keep this brand growing.

How do you handle adversity and doubt? What about self-doubt? 

I went through a lot of hard times, stress, and depression in the first couple years of my business. I had nothing, and sometimes felt like I had little support as well. I had a boyfriend at the time who asked when I was going to get a “real job” and I had some family members suggest vocational fields I should consider for more promising and stable job opportunities. At times, I got very discouraged and would start applying for jobs or thinking of other business ideas. I experienced a LOT of adversity, doubt, and self-doubt, and I am not actually sure that I “handled it'' because, man, it took a toll on me and won at times! But I battled that by staying busy. I kept WORKING -- everyday, all day -- doing what I was interested in and passionate about. I didn't really know what else to do; it's the only thing that made me feel good during that hard time. Money was never the goal, and honestly, I am not sure what WAS the goal, but I know that hard work and passion DID eventually turn to success.

What has been your biggest set-back or road block and how did you handle that situation?

My biggest roadblock has simply been the challenge of learning the business side of running a business. I experienced nearly overnight growth with my first major design, and I was not prepared. It took years of playing catch-up when it came to taxes, book-keeping, payroll, licensing, accounting, etc. And this was while continuing to grow, trying to build a staff, and keeping daily operations running. I still to this day have not gotten it all figured out — We are still selling out and wait listing customers on every production, and I am still paying tax penalties almost monthly for not filing on time. BUT it's running more smoothly every day, and all could have been avoided with better organization and preparation for growth from the beginning.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

A TV news lady. And I actually went to school for journalism. While in school, I realized that I was more suited for print journalism rather than broadcast. And after almost 10 years of working in print journalism, mostly as a newspaper editor, I parted ways with that career, which just wasn't working out for me... at all.

What advice would you give your teenage self? 

Work during college to help with expenses rather than rely solely on student loans. I think starting in the workforce as early as 16 and keeping jobs all the time is very useful in learning a great work ethic. I actually worked all through college and never took out a loan. I loved working. Life after college is hard enough without all the student loans, and I can't imagine having had the weight of all that debt on my shoulders from day one. Student debt is such a major problem. Even if college takes a couple more years than planned, it's worth it to take your time, work, and enjoy life without digging a financial hole in the ground.

What was your dream job before building your brand? 

Had you asked me in college, I would have said an investigative reporter for the New York Times, living in the big city. Who knew I'd end up running a worldwide fashion business from the tiny 5,000-person town of Bisbee, Arizona.

What inspired you when you were younger? What inspires or motivates you now?

The whole inspiration behind my business is classic rock music, and the styles of the 60s and 70s. I've always been obsessed. My dad played bass in a classic rock cover band when I was a kid, and my mom had drawers full of all this 70s hippie stuff she would pass down to me... still today many of my favorite pieces of clothing. Nothing has been more iconic, legendary, and influential as the classic rock era —musically and stylistically. Everything about it is and always will be inspiring. That's why my brand is called “Classic Rock Couture.”

What piece of advice would you give to young women today? 

Work hard, and don't ever focus solely on money and success — Focus on the thing that inspires you and brings you to life! Without hard work and passion, you just have a soulless business.

Also, do not fear motherhood as being a career setback. In my busiest, most creative, and most profitable year yet, I gave birth to my first child, who just turned one, and I am expecting my second in a couple months. I used to harbor a lot of fear that I would have to choose between business and family, but I must say that becoming a mother has only further inspired me and made me capable of SO much more. Sure, there are still many societal challenges for women in business, but motherhood is NOT a roadblock to success. 

Claire Harlin Bundle

$28.50
The shades in this bundle were curated by Claire Harlin of Classic Rock Couture. 10% of proceeds from this bundle will be donated to Downtown Women's Center, the only organization in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless women.

This bundle is exclusively available through March 31. 2020.

Shades included:
  • Luxe
  • Air Of Mystique
  • You're Blushing

All shades are Leaping Bunny Certified Cruelty-Free, Vegan, and Free From Harmful Chemicals.

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