If you haven’t heard of Carrie Hammer yet, we bet your work wardrobe has – and it’s going to be asking for her clothing line as a gift this season.
Hammer, contributor to The Huffington Post’s style section and to StyleList.com, launched her self-titled, NYC-based clothing line CARRIE HAMMER in 2012 this year, delivering stylish professional wear to women with three versatile options: ready to wear, customization and made to measure. You can even choose the color, sleeve and length of your dress online. And, if you have a particular office environment, you can choose a dress that works for you, fitting your office dress code delivered in 3-4 weeks. Amazing, right?
We sat down with Hammer to find out what sparked her business idea, leading to a killer fundraising campaign to expand her company on Kickstarter and how she’s handled her own office wardrobe malfunctions plus tips on sprucing up your closet.
Hammer started her career as an advertising sales executive and often heard that she should “dress for the job she wanted not the job she had.” This was tough advice to follow without bankrupting herself as she found a limited selection of fashionable professional women’s clothing, with a contemporary fit, at a reasonable price point.
As a solution, she began getting custom pieces made for herself through tailors online. And, when she found that many of her friends shared her struggle and continued to be stopped on the street about her fashionable professional wardrobe, a light bulb went off. She had no choice but to start a line to cater to the underserved professional woman.
“I came up with the business idea pretty organically,” Hammer said. “When I was working in advertising sales I was so frustrated with the options available to me as a professional woman. There were only 4-5 stores that catered to me at a low to mid price range, and of those that catered to me, I felt none were that contemporary in style or fit. I started getting pieces made for myself overseas and the reaction was overwhelming! I knew I was on to something.”
After a year of building her business on the made-to-measure side and building a solid following, her customers begged her for the same styles but on-demand.
“This is what pre-empted the Kickstarter campaign. Building a ready-to-wear line is an expensive endeavor, but luckily I had already built brand awareness so I was able to secure pre-orders through Kickstarter to fund manufacturing of the Spring line.”
Q: Many women look at their work wardrobe and think it’s all old and shopping for new threads is the way to go. What are some tips you can offer to mix and match the things they already have, making it new?
A: A little tailoring and some new buttons go a long, long way.
Q: What made you want to leave your 9-to-5 ad sales exec job for the entrepreneurial route?
A: I had been working in advertising sales for four years and while the jobs were interesting and lucrative they weren’t fulfilling on a deeper and creative level. When I couldn’t quite take it anymore I decided to fulfill my creative destiny and take myself back to fashion school at Parsons in Paris.