People 30 August 2018
Advancing from online sales to a fully operational Tribecca showroom in three years, sisters Neely and Chloe Burch operate their accessories line, Neely and Chloe, with the vitality and style of quintessential up-and-coming New York women. When the Burch sisters set out to create a luxury leather goods and accessories brand in 2015, they were striving fill a market gap that they were frustrated with.
And yes, they are Tory Burch's nieces.
Photo by Bridget Badore | @bridgetbadore
“I think Tory is very inspiring for the way that she reached the customer and spoke with them. So I think if we can get a little bit of that, it would be great," says Chloe Burch.
Getting into the Family Business
Growing up in the Burch household was what any outsider may already expect from the famed name. The girls flourished from design and aesthetic inspiration. Outside of their aunt's success, their father began his career within the fashion industry.
“I think that fashion has always been in our family. Our dad was in the fashion industry for a very long time, he started a women and children's knitwear business. My mom worked at the company as well and that's where they met," Chloe explains. “Our cousins have a company called Trademark, which is an amazing accessories brand as well. And then obviously we have our aunt, who is so helpful and so supportive of everything that we do."
Neely remembers sitting around the dinner table talking about design and aesthetic with her parents, and whether it was art or clothes, “it was something that my father in particular knows a lot more about more than your average dad," she jokes.
Without a doubt, the sisters' childhood influenced their determination to create their own brand. Neely and Chloe are born and bred fashion industry darlings, with fingers on the pulse of their millennial target audience.
“I think that it's something that we've felt, as consumers. You want to know more and you want to know why the brand came to be, and there's not always a great answer for that other than its an austere aesthetic or this concept," says Neely. “We've really worked to create a brand that allows our audience to connect with us in a way that feels really approachable, that's something we've tried to integrate into our brand as a whole."
A Millennial's Proclivity for Minimalism
When Neely and Chloe imagined an accessories brand, they imagined one for themselves. Their brand emulates what they believed was missing in the marketplace, something that sits between luxury and fast fashion.
“I think a lot of it just comes from being millennial women, being young women shoppers and feeling frustrated by the fact that the options at hand were skipping the Ubers or bringing your lunch to work so you could buy something that really you couldn't afford that felt elevated and sophisticated and made you feel special," says Neely. “Or the options were buying fast fashion that didn't last or something that felt mass produced or over consumed."
Scrolling through the Neely and Chloe website allows for an experience that is a comparatively bare alternative to brands like Coach and Michael Michael Kors, who's purses lie within a similar price range. The massive difference is that Neely and Chloe accessories exist sans massive logos, labels or signature patterns.
One of Neely and Chloe's best-selling bags, No. 19 The Mini Lady Bag. Photo Courtesy of Neely and Chloe
According to Chloe, the brand emphasizes customization on all of their products, and with customization comes the ability for consumers to view the products as an extension of themselves.
“What our hope was, and what this has really allowed for, was for women to leave our store or our website with their bag feeling more about them than it does about us," says Neely.
Neely and Chloe were able to raise 1.25M in friends and family convertible debt. Neely recalls focusing on finding investors throughout 2015 and 2016, learning as she went. She spent months running to meetings with potential investors, all with different inquires about every aspect their business - which they had to quickly adapt to. “Neither one of us have any history in finance or background in that," says Neely. “There was a very steep learning curve, but it's one that forced us to get really intimate knowledge of every component of the business and put us in positions where, at times, there were questions we didn't have the answers to."
Along the investment trail came the alarming realization that many female founders and business owners have faced. The sisters were given a list of contacts that had a history with investments. “You look down and you realize, it's a bunch of men. There's just no reason why a lot of these names shouldn't be women's names," notes Neely. “It's hard to sit across a table and talk about a product that doesn't resonate with you because you're never going to be the person to use it -if you're a man and we're talking about handbags."
The Burch sisters realized that they had to approach their audience and embrace women investors. They had to create a way to reach their target audience, so they hosted a get together with women from their hometown, women who knew them and saw them as capable business owners.
“It was our first stop on the fundraising trail," says Neely. “We wanted to present a product that was for women, by women, to women. We have a few investors that came out of that night who have become really great ambassadors for the brand."
Today, the Burch sisters operate Neely and Chloe from a sunlit showroom. Right now, their focus is on expanding their customer base while remaining true to their brand story. “We've really only scratched the surface of the consumers that are out there for this brand," says Neely. “I think there's a ton of potential for growth. We've just started dipping our toes into the wholesale side, working with very select specialty store brands to tap into great networks of women and really spread the word about who we are."
3 min read
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist