Molly McKenna (on left) graduated from FIDM with a degree in Merchandise Product Development in 2008, and launched online retail site Whiskey & Lace in late 2012 with Co-founder Erika (on right). We sat down with Molly to find out more about her company.
Tell us the story behind your company: Whiskey & Lace Co-founder, Erika and I are long time friends who have always shared a deep passion for fashion. We knew instantly we would be great friends and that we were brought together for a bigger reason. When we met in 2008, it was the first time each of us found someone else who shared the same love and appreciation for fashion, hard work, and anything creative. Over the last five years of working together in sales and merchandising at our respective jobs, we realized that it was time to stop talking about our dreams and start acting on them. We have always pushed one other to be better and work harder. It was obvious from the beginning we would create something together, and after many late night discussions, going back and forth to the drawing board, in late 2012 our larger than life dream was finally realized and Whiskey & Lace was born.
What's W&L all about? Whether you’re a Whiskey Girl or a Lacey Lady, shopwhiskeyandlace.com is a place where girls can go to find a mixture of ultra-feminine, edgy, well-merchandised outfits at the click of a button. W&L’s main focus is in the photography, because Erika and I understand the importance of feeling emotion while shopping. The idea here is to take the hard work out of it for our customers. Experimenting with trends, stressing about putting the right outfit together and never knowing if you are portraying the best version of yourself through your own personal style are all problems girls face each day. Through beautiful lifestyle pictures, Whiskey & Lace is able to communicate a point of view and express that fashion can be fun no matter your age, shape or taste.
What's the difference between the Whiskey Closet and the Lace Closet? The Lace Closet is all about Erika; she loves to be in the spotlight, front and center wearing anything pink or with ruffles, lace, or bows. The Whiskey Closet has my name written all over it. I enjoy being in the background wearing something slightly more understated, edgy, and dark. Despite our style differences, we both share an eye for clothes that make you feel good about yourself, express who you are, give you an edge, and keep you feminine all that same time. We love mixing the two styles together. The result is often something really sweet with a dash of salt.
What's your best-selling item right now? Has to be our sweaters. We have tons of shapes and colors, as well as price points. We love to dress them up or down. Finding a way to make pieces transition from day to night or from look to look is something that is really important to us. We believe that by anchoring your wardrobe with staple pieces that you really love and don’t mind splurging on is a great way to always look chic; that way you can add trendier pieces here and there without breaking the bank. We show multiple ways to wear things to justify the pricier pieces. We mix expensive styles with fast fashion all the time. That’s how Erika and I shop, personally, and we love sharing that!
What fashion trends should we be on the lookout for this winter?
Winter White: Head-to-toe winter white is easy to assemble at any price. It's also super easy to attain.
Chunky Knits: Whether it’s a chunky sweater, scarf or beanie, this is a cozy trend we are loving to help kill the chill.
Over-the-Knee Boots: Everyone needs a pair. They come in all sorts of colors and price points. One of our favorite things about them is they can transition from day to night.
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? FIDM had a way of preparing you for the real world. We didn’t just learn from textbooks. Everything was so hands-on and you were being taught by industry professionals. FIDM was the first place where everyone was like me—ultra creative! Being surrounded by people who share your same passion is inspiring.
How did you find out about FIDM? I always new I wanted to attend FIDM. I dreamed about it. It seems weird now, but I remember being in the city as a young girl and seeing girls walk around with their big white iconic FIDM tote bags. I wanted one! Living in the city and attending fashion school was my biggest dream. Thanks to my super supportive parents, we made it happen.
How did you decide on your major? I knew I wanted a major that taught the business side of the industry—AKA the not-so-glamorous side—as well as the creative. Merchandise Product Development was the perfect fit for me to fine tune my creative/merchandising side, as well as the business side. It has served me well.
Looking back, which classes at FIDM were most valuable to you? All of my branding classes were a big help. I still utilize things I learned in those classes to this day. Another one was Merchandise Math (my least favorite) but most helpful in my day-to-day job.
Any advice for current FIDM Students? Never stop dreaming. The clichés they say are true. You can do anything you put your mind to. Often times you are the only thing standing in your own way. Erika and I took a huge leap on a dream we weren’t sure would work. Passion is what fuels us every day. We are best friends and simply bring out the best in each other. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for her. We are each other’s biggest fans and cheerleaders. We didn’t have it all figured out from the beginning, but we continue to learn and adapt to this ever-changing industry every day. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else with anyone but her. Sometimes you just have to go for it, and not let fear stand in your way. You will be surprised with what you are capable of. I sure was. I would have never guessed I would have my dream company off the ground by age 26.
What is your biggest goal right now? We have achieved our first goal, which was to prove our theory can work and that girls want a place to shop online that feels more like a brick and mortar. We had a successful first month of business. Currently, we are keeping our heads down and really focusing on marketing and spreading the word about our brand. We are constantly coming up with creative ways to market ourselves. It’s a hard thing to do on a budget, but definitely possible with the power of social media. Fine tuning our message and getting a concise story out to our customer is our main focus right now.
Anything else you’d like to share? We have a motto at Whiskey & Lace that we try to live by. I still find myself reading these words every once in a while to get me through a tough day: "Never stop dreaming. Always be a doer and a thinker. Don’t be like the rest of them. Remember to flirt with adventure, even if it scares you. Continue to see possibility everywhere, always."