Meet This Girl Chelsea Hansford
On how she got into fashion
I landed in Fashion slightly unplanned. I wanted to live in New York first and foremost, so I applied to different city schools, NYU and FIT, and FIT was the school I got into. When I was there, I started experimenting with more business-oriented fashion classes and then through the tight FIT community, I started getting internships in fashion. I actually started at a showroom for Opening Ceremony. I became really close with Opening Ceremony’s team and they hired me full-time. I was working in sales and merchandising, but I was also doing brand consulting so I was making relationships with different buyers and brands, which was amazing.
On her big break
I was really inspired by working with brands and working on collaborations for different brands. I got this opportunity to be in multi-brand sales at Opening Ceremony and to start this brand called BLK DNM with a guy named Johan Lindeberg, who was developing his line J. Lindeberg as well as a lot of other projects. He was starting a brand out of New York that was this kind of iconic denim and leather New York City brand and he curated a really interesting group to work for him - he had a really good Regional Director, a Press Director, a Design Director, and them himself.I knew it would be an easy success, so I jumped on board with him and it kind of took off. He had this amazing marketing energy and he gave his whole team access to such an amazing world.
On turning her passion into a career
I always loved fashion since I was young, but it’s definitely not what I thought I would be working in. It happened through an organic process of finding the right jobs, building a network, and then jumping on opportunities as they came in. It was a lot of being in the right place at the right time. I always wanted to do something creative and I love everything about the process of fashion and the curation of style. I think it’s really important to showcase your identity through fashion and to have your own unique style.
On how she ended up at Simon Miller
A friend approached me about building this brand called Simon Miller. He wanted consultancy in terms of making Simon Miller a real brand and growing the sales and marketing and shaping the brand’s image - all things that I had experience with at this point, so I just took a leap because I wanted to start something again. I loved being a part of a brand’s initial process and seeing it grow and succeed. Back then, Simon Miller was just a men’s brand - it was just men’s denim and I saw huge potential to launch a women’s collection. I took on the creative role and then slowly got into designing. My husband does the accessories, so we kind of teamed up and built the creative together, which was obviously different than my past experiences in merchandising.
On why she believes Simon Miller is successful
I think I have an ability to curate a good team and draw in people that will take a chance on a small brand. Not everyone will leave Louis Vuitton or Calvin Klein or Rick Owens to take a leap of faith on a small brand. When you're a small brand, you don’t necessarily have a huge budget to pay corporate salaries to entice people to come work for you. You have to entice people through the prospect of becoming part of the brand’s growth and becoming part of the family.
On what excites her
Owning a company is definitely exciting, but the greatest thing is seeing products come to life. The day that one of your ideas turn up as a final product, and then people love it and wear it...that’s everything!
On overcoming challenges and self-doubt
Did I ever wonder if this was the right thing for me? No. But if you are asking if I ever had doubts about what I was doing, then yes, of course.
It’s super hard to take a business from a startup to something that’s actually successful. I think there are days where everything seems to be working against you, but I’ve learned that you just have to push through those days and make it happen. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
On a rule she lives by
I think it’s important to have fun with what you do. The energy of a leader sets the team’s mood and I think that having a strong a team that’s really motivated and happy is the key to success.
On the women that inspire her
From a fashion sense, Phoebe Philo is probably the person I find the most inspirational. She has a great team and builds an empire wherever she goes. From an attitude perspective, I love Uma Thurman because she is clearly so true to herself and has this amazing identity that she’s built - I just think she’s a strong, kick-ass woman.
On what she still wants to learn
There are a ton of things I’d still love to learn. I’d love to bring in people who can teach me more about finance and accounting so that I can have the tools to run my business even better.
On a “typical day”
I’m in the office every day, unless I’m traveling for work. A typical day starts with a Matcha from either Moon Juice or Erewhon. Then I get into my emails, touch base with my team on an individual basis and see what’s going on and what’s happening in their world. On Tuesdays we sit together as a team and talk about all the good things that are happening or things that we want to try and improve on. I try to set aside some time each day to be creative. I try to focus on categories so that I can give my day a specific thought whether it be bags, jewelry, denim or shoes (which we are launching!)
I hope I’m organized! I’m not your traditional organizer - it would be very difficult for someone to just jump into my organization style, but I am very hyper-organized in my own way. However, when I travel for work all bets are off in terms of that.
On the accomplishment she’s most proud of
Simon Miller is my biggest accomplishment. I’m really proud of the fact that I work with my husband and that we've created an “It” bag. I don’t think that’s something a lot of people are able to say.
On her secret interior design talents
I’m really passionate about the home and what goes inside the home - art, architecture, furniture. I think that’s something I’d eventually love to have become part of what I do as well.
On the three traits she’s most proud to possess
The good and bad? I’m very dedicated, obsessive some people would say - I think I’m a total workaholic, so that’s probably the bad, but it can be good when you have a startup company. I’m super passionate about everything I’m doing. So if I go for something, I’m full throttle. Lukewarm doesn’t work for me. I don’t have a lukewarm. I’m ice cold and boiling.
On the best piece of advice she ever received
The best advice I ever received was to stay extremely true to what it is I want to do and create. There’s a lot of talk and a lot of opinions every day and in the end, if you start listening to it all, it’s very easy to get muddled and confused. I think it’s really important to know when to take the opinions of others with a grain of salt.
The worst piece of advice she ever received
The worst advice I ever received was “don’t do it.”
On finding balance
I’m not sure I’ve found it yet. I think balance is super important and I think L.A. has been great for that actually. In New York it was much more challenging for me to find balance because that lifestyle doesn’t really work for it. I mean work is my life - but in Los Angeles you have the sun and the beach. It’s easier to turn off here because everyone does.
On the challenges women today face
I think women always face the challenge of wanting to have a successful career and also a family. I think it’s totally acceptable, at least in fashion, to have it all and to not have a staff at home taking care of your kids. I have so many friends in fashion that have their kids with them at all times, you know they travel to Paris with them, all the showrooms, their kids are hanging out with the team at the office. I think it’s great when the children almost become part of a brand.
Her advice for a girl on her way
Don’t let everything get to you. I think it’s really important to find ways to relax, whether it be through exercise, meditation, or even going to the grocery store. Whatever it is, you have to find your own way of maintaining a firm head on your shoulders and not losing it. In life, you have to find outlets that allow you to recharge.