Nicole, Threadleaf: I was an attorney for 12 years before opening Threadleaf — Five years at a law firm, six years at DOJ, and one and a half years at the White House. While I was practicing, I was always looking for stylish, comfortable dresses that could go from day to night, and that were made from natural fibers. It could be hard to find designers that check all those boxes, which made me think it would be great to have a store with several brands under one roof. That quest for sustainable style in my past life led me to open the shop.
Rosana, DC Style Factory: I have had three careers. First, I was a journalist. Then I was a boutique owner. And finally, DC Style Factory. One perk of having traversed these different careers is that I understand the inevitability and value of change. Each one of these transitions was a major upheaval in my life and taught me lessons for the next step.
Nicole, Threadleaf: I actually started college at NY’s Fashion Institute of Technology before my multi-year detour. I always liked the creativity and ability to express yourself.
Rosana, DC Style Factory: No! I always loved fashion and clothing, but the way I grew up that simply was not a practical career choice. My dad still can’t believe I make a living “dressing people.”
Nicole, Threadleaf: Helping people find just the right thing. It’s such a great feeling when someone does a little happy dance in the store because they’ve found the perfect dress, or a partner is super-excited about finding a great gift.
Rosana, DC Style Factory: Helping women understand that their bodies aren’t to be picked apart and scorned. We define body shape for our clients not just to dress for balanced proportions, but to introduce a more neutral lens through which we can view our bodies. The binary “good” or “bad” judgements about your body can hold you back from accessing your personal style. So, if we can get to, “I now understand my body shape and how to dress it. Period. Hard stop.” then we can get to getting dressed in a way that feels really good!
Nicole, Threadleaf: Threadleaf’s mission has always been to provide sustainably-made, beautifully-crafted clothing and accessories. I think current events show that we all win when we treat people and the planet with respect and consideration. Our actions have consequences, usually pretty foreseeable ones. We need to accept that and be responsible.
Rosana, DC Style Factory: Our mission at DC Style Factory has always been to elevate people’s confidence and provide ease to their lives. The way I am looking to create change in my corner of the world is to make sure this mission is true for more people. In many ways our services have become more and more exclusive, so I am looking critically at how to give more people access to DC Style Factory services.
Nicole, Threadleaf: One big surprise is how many people I see in their underwear! I was not really expecting that, but it totally makes sense.
Rosana, DC Style Factory: Trying to decide if and how to keep growing this business. I think the expectation is that if the business is growing then of course you keep growing and hustling and growing and hustling. But, I am wrestling with the idea of what that looks like for us moving forward. I don’t want our services to feel any less comprehensive and personal because we’ve grown. Figuring out that balance is a challenge, but a good challenge!
Nicole, Threadleaf: Well, I always had the idea of the shop in the back of my mind. And having an Administration change was definitely a nudge. But once I finally made the decision, I made a business plan, reached out to contacts, made new ones and just very methodically moved ahead. A number of people were supportive, but there were definitely people who thought it was a terrible idea. I just ignored them.
Rosana, DC Style Factory: When I left journalism to open my boutique, I was in my 20s and it was one of the most exciting times in my life. I worked 60-plus hours a week and loved every minute. I don’t think there was time to think about the transition because I made the decision so quickly. I was getting such a great deal on the retail space and it felt like the perfect time to take a leap of faith and do something completely outside the box. When I left my boutique after five years, it was one of the saddest and most humbling times of my life. The housing bubble had burst, and the boutique was not going to make it. I felt like a failure. I went back to writing for a small local newspaper and really had no idea what was next for me. When I launched DC Style Factory it was completely by accident. I had no interest in starting a new business, much less a personal styling business. But customers from my boutique sought me out. The stars were aligned, and I had nothing to lose. The rest is history!
Nicole, Threadleaf: Definitely. Being a good lawyer is all about client service and anticipating what your client will need or want. It’s the same with the shop — anticipating what people would like and delivering on it.
Rosana, DC Style Factory: Without a doubt. Being a journalist helped build my tenacity (reporters don’t take no for an answer) and marketing skills, which both helped me in my first business and with DC Style Factory. Owning a clothing boutique taught me customer service and how to staff, run, and grow a business. This has guided me in shaping the structure of our business and services.
Nicole, Threadleaf: Fashion is a way of adornment and expression. But, it is also a huge industry responsible for pollution, shameful wages, mass consumption, and exclusion. Instead of being leaders in bad practices, fashion could and should play a role in building up society.
Rosana, DC Style Factory: Fashion is a global business. We are in this moment of reckoning and having to look at ourselves in the mirror — every one of us. When it comes to clothing and fashion, we are all responsible for educating ourselves on pollution, race and cultural appropriation, labor practices in developing countries, and more. Fashion can no longer turn a blind eye to the human price paid for mass consumption.
DC Style Factory is a personal shopping and styling service for men and women looking to add polish and individuality to their wardrobes. We believe personal style is for anyone who wants it — regardless of age, size or budget.