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Meet the Team: Brand Assembly

the style line brand assembly

L-R: Alexandria Geeter, Hillary France, Lindsay Ward and Erin Lure. Photos by Bridget Badore for The Style Line

the style line brand assemblyFor the team behind Brand Assembly, community is something that never goes out of style.

In fact, it’s an element they consider to be crucial in how they conduct business. “Brand Assembly believes strongly in shining the spotlight on emerging designers and seeing these talented brands grow.” Brand Coordinator, Alexandria Geeter shared with us. “So our community is more like a family, celebrating the success and the growth of each other!” And after spending an afternoon with the team at their Manhattan headquarters, it’s hard to imagine any other kind of vibe. Yet amid the playful camaraderie and light-hearted attitude among all six members, we found a true commitment to the task at hand: Assembling and nurturing a collective of the best budding designers in the contemporary market. Hillary France, Brand Assembly’s co-founder attributes this mission to the lack of assistance available for designers to effectively grow. More specifically, Brand Assembly’s incubator and LA trade-show lays a foundation for it’s members during market week, a crucial time for designers to be seen by buyers from around the world. As Hillary puts it, “We teach [our brands] what is important on the business side so they are aware of the consequences of margins and spending, and learn to speak to their business intelligently. With our help they don’t have to be bogged down in the day to day which can substantially decrease the amount of time a designer has to focus on the DNA of their brand.” While it may seem like a tall order, we quickly learned that Brand Assembly internally, is comprised of a diverse group whose shared passion for fashion has helped propel the the company forward. Speaking more to this, we were thrilled to have had the opportunity to learn and share the individual stories of each Brand Assembly team member. While their mission is fueled by helping customers discover their “new favorite brand” we hope you discover as much inspiration and insight from this tiny, yet tenacious team as we did. Read on to meet the ladies (and gent!) of Brand Assembly and take a virtual tour of their office.

STORY BY RACHEL SCHWARTZMANN – PHOTOS BY BRIDGET BADORE

 

 

  • the style line brand assembly
  • the style line brand assembly
  • the style line brand assembly
    Illustration by Lily Qian for The Style Line
  • the style line brand assembly
  • the style line brand assembly

“I do believe personal style has an effect on how one leads… When you put your best foot forward on a daily basis, you are sending a message that you are serious and passionate about what you do.” – Hillary France

the style line brand assembly

Hillary France + Alex Repola – Co-Founders of Brand Assembly

Please introduce yourselves!

Hillary France: I am an entrepreneur living in NYC. I was born in Westchester but lived in Michigan most of my life. I am extremely driven (some might call me a workaholic!) and I would attribute part of it to playing competitive tennis as a junior and then as a college athlete at Duke University, and also to my parents always pushing me to be the best that I can be. I love an underdog, which is one of the we started Brand Assembly – we wanted to provide resources for talented designers to succeed in this super challenging and oversaturated market.

I love peace and quiet – I am a huge homebody. When it is nice outside I enjoy sitting in a park listening to the sounds of the city or going Upstate and walking the country roads. I also love sitting in front of a fire or cuddling on a couch. I value my family and the amazing opportunities that I have had, that have enabled us to start Brand Assembly – doing what we love for talented designers.

Alex Repola: I am the co-founder of Brand Assembly and I am the Yin to Hillary’s Yang. I was born and grew up in Italy and moved here when I was 12. While what I enjoy most is spending time with my kids (much more so than they probably enjoy spending time with me), it is hard to distinguish what I enjoy outside of Brand Assembly as it has been a project that Hillary and I have taken very personally. There is a barrier for talented emerging designers to get their product to market and we started Brand Assembly with the mission to break down those barriers. Most of our clients put their heart and soul in what they do (and some of them their last penny), so while we are certainly not saving lives, what we do is meaningful in the sense that helps people accomplish their goals and succeed. What I enjoy most and value above all things are the relationships with my family and friends. My kids are the reason I get up in the morning.

How has starting Brand Assembly redefined or re-inspired your definition of discovery?

Hillary France: We started Brand Assembly because we love to discover and help new talent break down barriers in the industry. Our tradeshow in Los Angeles is an even playing field environment where the clothes speak for themselves, and buyers can discover new and exciting brands. There are no overwhelming booth build outs – I love when a brand comes up to me after our tradeshow and tells me that one of their targets stores, who did not come to see them in New York, found them at our show and placed an order. It means that our vision for these brands getting discovered is working.  Our shop-in-shop at Lord & Taylor operates under the same premise, we hope that the customers come to the shop and discover a new emerging brand where then a friend or stranger asks them later “Hey, where did you get that?”

Alex Repola: Brand Assembly IS all about discovery. We discover new brands and in turn we help those brands be discovered by the masses, and then make sure the masses get the items from said discovered brands. I personally am also humbled every time we meet and see a really talented designer in action. They are true artists and they are putting it all out there. It is talent and courage few possess, and it is pretty cool to be in the presence of it.

the style line brand assembly

“I love an underdog, which is one of the we started Brand Assembly – we wanted to provide resources for talented designers to succeed in this super challenging and oversaturated market.”

Talk to us about leadership- How has this endeavor informed how you lead? Do you think personal style plays any sort of factor in this? 

Hillary France: Having our own business has definitely made me constantly think about my leadership style. I am not the most “direct” boss, and have had to learn to just say it like it is, and not beat around the bush. I have had amazing women that have been my bosses when I worked at DVF and Cynthia Steffe, and who I learned a lot from regarding management style. My partner, Alex, has also taught me a lot about leading people and delegating – he likes to remind me every day to continue to get things off my plate. I love to teach, but I am also inspired when I learn from the girls who work for me! I do believe personal style has an effect on how one leads… When you put your best foot forward on a daily basis, you are sending a message that you are serious and passionate about what you do.

Alex Repola: I have been fortunate to have had enough good and bad bosses to have a general idea of what to do and not to do. I am also extremely fortunate to now be working with Hilary who leads by example. She has working knowledge of every single moving part of our operation, and she will not ask someone to do something that she cannot do herself. She is the first one in and the last one out, and she happens to be the nicest person in the fashion industry. The inside (and outside) joke is that she is the nice one, and I am the not nice one, and leading, just like fashion, is about balance, so we balance each other out. As far as personal style playing a factor on leadership, I hope not in my case. After all these years I am still working on my personal style. Hillary’s personal style however has actually influenced the way I look at Brand Assembly. She takes chances with her fashion choices, and that is certainly inspirational to me and those who work and interact with us.

the style line brand assembly

In terms of responsibility to your community, what is one thing you would like to personally try to change or drive awareness in, for the contemporary market and industry overall, through your efforts with Brand Assembly?

Hillary France: Through our efforts at Brand Assembly, I hope that new brands learn that they should try to focus their efforts on the most important aspects of their brand, which are the design, sales and marketing. With the business services we offer, we teach them what is important on the business side so they are aware of the consequences of margins and spending, and learn to speak to their business intelligently. With our help they don’t have to be bogged down in the day to day which can substantially decrease the amount of time a designer has to focus on the DNA of their brand. Also, with our shop in shop at Lord & Taylor we help in assisting getting smaller brands to a larger market without all of the expensive logistics that go into shipping a major department store – I feel the customer is hungry for newness, so I hope that a lot of these designers get discovered by the customer and they become their “new favorite brand.”

Alex Repola: The industry is an ecosystem where the big and strong endure in spite of themselves, but the new talent has a difficult time entering and surviving. Lord  & Taylor, who is our retail partner, has gone above and beyond to help us help emerging designers establish a presence in an otherwise hard to enter environment. I would encourage and challenge other big players to continue to provide opportunities and give a voice to the many creative people out there.

The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “style line”? 

Hillary France: My Style Line is inspired by the circumstances or environment that I am in. I like to “dress the part.”  When I am in a meeting with a new client for the first time I try to emulate their aesthetic.  I like to show them that I am personally interested in their designs and their style.  I always like to have some fun with my personal style… I do not shy away from prints or new and interesting shapes, my style definitely is quirky but sophisticated and very distinctive.  I am looking forward to it getting warmer outside as that is when I think everyone pulls out their best, and it keeps everyone’s style inspired.

Alex Repola: My Style Line definitely is inspired by the speed and ferocity in which New York moves. I call it the “lead, follow, or get out of the way” city and that is what drives me and stimulates me. The city does not stop and neither do we.

the style line brand assembly

Erin Lure – Director of Operations 

Please introduce yourself! 

I am 30 years old, I moved to NYC when I was 19 and am a lover of New York – living here is never something that I take for granted – I am grateful on a daily basis that I get to look around and think to myself, this is my life. I went to FIT and got my BA in FMM and decided I didn’t want to work in fashion.  Yet, 6 years later, here I am.  I love what I do. I love to be surrounded by creativity every day, and be behind the scenes on the business and operational side of it all.

I enjoy: I am an exercise fanatic – I wake up at 5am and go to the gym before work – If I don’t, I feel like my brain is in a cloud. I am a morning person. That hour between 5-6 AM when I have my coffee and the world is sleeping, that’s my favorite time. Anything productive that I do in a day (at home) – happens at 5am.  I will hang a chandelier (with the help of my Mom), lay a rug, roast butternut squash, do my laundry, all at 5am,.  Come 7pm when I am home from work – it’s dinner, tv and sleep.

I am also a foodie. I love a good meal and appreciate fine food. My ideal evening is dinner at a great restaurant surrounded by the people I love where you sit and drink and eat and laugh and drink and eat and laugh and laugh and laugh.

I value: Family first and foremost. I am so blessed to have the family that I have. I honestly think that if you meet me, and then you meet my family…you would agree that I am better because of my family. I value honesty and friendship. When you grow up and you’re in the real world, you learn that you have to choose wisely the relationships that you keep, because there’s no time for nonsense – I truly value every single relationship that I have in my life.

How has your role at Brand Assembly inspired your personal style?

I love to see the creations of the talented designers I am surrounded by.  I am a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl though. However, when Hillary is doing the buy for Lord & Taylor, I need to see all of the samples that come in… It gets pretty exciting for me.

What is one question you wish people asked you more often?

Not this one?  I have no idea!

The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “style line”?

My style is mostly inspired by how I feel.  There are a lot of styles that I love but I know would not look good on me, so I don’t wear them. I need to be comfortable. I am a lover of all things soft when it comes to clothing.

the style line brand assembly

Alexandria Geeter – Brand Coordinator

Please introduce yourself! 

My name is Alexandria Geeter, outside of Brand Assembly I’m a just a regular young girl from New Jersey! I started a small fashion blog called Labels and Vintage a few years back that I enjoy writing when I’m not working. Most importantly, I enjoy spending time with and very much value my family, friends, boyfriend, and pup Zooey!

How has your role at Brand Assembly inspired you to celebrate personal style?

Prior to Brand Assembly, I’ve worked at companies that didn’t encourage personal style as much; they expected a more corporate dress code. I ended up getting caught in this sad routine of rotating the same kind of boring outfits just to comply. Since working at Brand Assembly and especially with Hillary (the most stylish boss there is!) I’ve been exposed to some great brands and have been inspired to take more risks in regards to expressing my style!

How would you describe the Brand Assembly community?

In my opinion, Brand Assembly is a community of talented, creative, and passionate people. Brand Assembly believes strongly in shining the spotlight on emerging designers and seeing these talented brands grow. So our community is more like a family, celebrating the success and the growth of each other!

The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “style line”? 

Everything in New York inspires my personal style; I see so much from my morning subway ride to my walk to work! It’s great to see different people from different walks of life express their style in a fearless way.

the style line brand assembly

Lindsay Ward – Operations Coordinator

Please introduce yourself!

My name is Lindsay Ward, I’m 23 from Long Island just starting to explore and experience the city and fashion industry. I’m always on the go with work during the week, so I enjoy the time I get on the weekends to indulge on my creative hobbies  like drawing or hanging out with friends. I value most importantly-my friends and family.

Personally, what is your favorite aspect of personal style and how do you think it translates into the energy of Brand Assembly’s community and mission?

As I’ve gotten older, my personal style has evolved a great deal. I’ve started to truly appreciate the strength and sophistication of the simple timeless silhouettes. To keep my style unique to my personality I love to add a statement jewelry piece, a hat, or introduce an edgy pattern. I feel like my style translates into the energy of Brand Assembly’s community and mission because it’s all about creativity, originality, and staying true to your personal style.

How has being involved as a member of the Brand Assembly team redefined or re-inspired your definition of discovery?

Brand Assembly’s goal is to provide an opportunity to designers who may not be able to enter the industry on their own. It is an honor to be able to work with individuals who have such a passion for what they do. Being a part of the team has motivated me to pursue my goals and never give up on your dreams and what you love. This is a truly an incredibly inspiring team and brand to work with.

The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “style line”? 

I commute into the city everyday and am constantly inspired by all the different styles I see throughout the day. I always look for combinations that are comfortable and chic-the city is my daily inspiration when it comes to choosing my look for the day.