This week on The b. Report we thought we’d try something new (and, we hope, fun)! Instead of Robin dishing about the latest shop info, fashion tips or career advice, I (hi, I’m Jillian, a member of the robin b. marketing team!) am interviewing Robin to learn more about her story, her secrets to success, and maybe some other fun facts if we really get going.
Image from Google
First things first: tell us a little about your background!
So, I was born in a small town in Rhode Island, and lived there until I was 12, when my father moved our family to Arizona. It was a pretty big shock, going from a rural area to a much more populous one. We eventually moved back to that same small Rhode Island town, and I ended up completing high school with the same 130ish classmates I’d gone to grade school with. It’s the kind of town where most people never leave. I knew I wanted something different though!
My Senior year, my art teacher took us on a field trip to New York, and we went to Calvin Klein because she knew someone there… I stood in that space, looking at the half finished pieces, the bolts of cloth on the wall, and I knew that I needed to work in fashion. After high school I was enrolled in community college to begin a nursing program, because that’s what girls did at that point; nursing or teaching! I fumbled through that for one painful semester, and then switched to fashion merchandising (which I discovered I loved!), and got a part time job as a part-time manager, which really cemented my love of the fashion business.
Art is in my DNA - my grandfather was an artist, and every year I’d ask him for a painting as my birthday gift. I still have the most amazing collection of his watercolors. In high school I also started painting, and I still love to paint. Sketching my designs is a natural outcropping of this love for art.
You are clearly an incredibly driven individual. Can you share any habits that you have which have contributed to your success? (For example, Admiral William McRaven has his whole “make your bed each morning” philosophy).
I have a couple practices that I think are essential: first, I write down everything. It doesn’t matter if I think I’ll remember it or not. It shows respect, and it keeps me organized. I always have a notebook and a mechanical pencil in my bag, and I have a planner that I use to map out my week every Sunday. Even if an appointment is in my iPhone, it also gets put into my planner. My brain just works better that way - it helps me visualize how I can use my time most efficiently.
Second, I am a firm believer in the old mantra, “the early bird gets the worm”! I am up every day by 6, and as soon as my feet hit the floor, I’m talking (even if only to my cats, as no one else wants to talk to me at that hour!) I find that I’m most productive in the mornings, so I love getting a jump start on my day.
What do you want your customers to get out of their experience shopping your brand? How do you want women to feel when they leave your store?
I want my customers to leave our store feeling complete. They should feel ready, like they can put on their outfit and rock it. I designed the essentials line to act as a perfect backdrop for any woman’s personality. You want to rock a leopard skirt with our blazer? Do it! How about a brown leather skirt? That’ll work too! I personally love to throw on my blazer over a concert tee, with a great pair of jeans and my Fryes. One piece. Three very different vibes! My customers should feel like their money was well-spent.
I read once that President Obama only had blue and grey suits in his closet, so that he knew that any shirt and tie he grabbed would match, drastically reducing the number of decisions involved in the act of dressing for the day. I think that my Classic Capsule can fill that same role for my customers: they have the basic pieces they need to look elegant and put together for work, and that are also versatile enough to wear in the evening or on the weekends. All they need to do is add the pieces that will help their personality shine through!
Self care is important, possibly even more so when a person is as busy as you are. What’s your go-to pampering or self-care routine?
Hypothetically, if I had a free Saturday I’d just make it a whole day of beauty: facial, then a mani/pedi, and a massage… and another facial, because why not? But in reality one of my biggest self-care routines is that I try to keep my Sundays phone / email free. I have one task that I have to do Sunday mornings, but then I put away my phone and ignore it the rest of the day. I also try to set aside 45 or so minutes on Sundays to read through a magazine cover-to-cover; something like Vogue or InStyle, to catch up on the fashion world.
Ok, we’ve talked about your vision for the shop, your early years and your tips for success… but what really makes you tick? Tell us about some of your motivations.
I am motivated by lots of things. I love a good “underdog” story; The Devil Wears Prada, Working Girl (now I am showing my age), The Intern are movies that resonate with me. My friends and family also motivate me. When I feel like I can’t overcome a challenge they are there to cheer me on and remind me of how far I have come. My significant other, Paul, is always cheering me on and helping with everything from accounting, to moving the store, to hanging fixtures. He is always supporting my dream. These are all things that motivate me and keep me focused on my dream.
...Lightning Round! Let’s have some fun
What are you reading lately?
My latest magazine subscription (I LOVE magazines). InStyle, Women’s Health, Vogue, Magnolia Home; I love the inspiration of the stories and photos.
What’s your favorite meal?
Seafood Fra Diavolo, I love the fresh fish and pasta combo...and that spice! Yummy!
Coffee or tea? How do you take it?
Both! Coffee in the a.m. (as soon as I put my feet on the ground!), with truvia and milk... and it has to be hazelnut coffee. Tea after dinner; decaf black with truvia and milk.
What things are always in your purse / pocket?
A #2 mechanical pencil and a notebook... the notebook has to have graph lines or just blank sheets of paper. Ruled lines are too constrictive! You never know when it’s time to sketch. And a lipgloss or lipstick. That habit is from my Grandmother who always taught me not to leave the house without my lipstick on.
Welcome to RI pic from Google