Today’s interview is with the amazing creator of the ultra stylish Matilda Jane Clothing line.
Learn more about Denise DeMarchis and her fun and stylish fashion line
Female Entrepreneur: Denise DeMarchis
Company: Matilda Jane Clothing
Follow on Facebook: www.facebook.com/matildajaneclothing
Follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MatildaJane435
Tell us about Matilda Jane (how long you’ve been in business, motivation for launching business, etc.).
When I was about 24, I dove head over heals into the art fair circuit. I traveled the Midwest selling painted furniture. Twelve years later it turned into designing clothing all because a friend was looking for work for her seamstresses. I took the pieces to my art fairs and realized it was a lot easier packing clothing than full length mirrors. Before I knew it, I was selling a clothing line called Matilda Jane.
What type of work did you do prior to launching Matilda Jane?
Ahh … what didn’t I do? I have always been about “if you don’t love it, don’t do it” which lead to many jobs from Kentucky Fried Chicken to a sales rep at Coca Cola to a manager at Claire’s in the mall. And, of course, I painted furniture and sold through the art fair circuit as well as retail stores.
What inspires you to create a new design?
Wow, you ask good questions – the kind that make me really think. I am so in love with what I do that I may sound a little arrogant but I don’t really look to places for inspiration. I have been surrounded by inspiration my entire life, and it is pretty much everything that makes up me as a person. So, there is not one thing that inspires me to create. I do it because I love to. I think I was born to.
Describe your typical workday.
Typical? There is really no such thing as typical around here. On any given day I could be a stay at home mom, a clothing designer, a world traveler, a graphic designer, or just a girl with a huge migraine due to lack of Diet Coke. And some days, well, most days, I am all of the above jumbled into one. I would not have it any other way.
What have been some of your major success?
I think foremost just having a company like Matilda Jane is a huge success. We are a children’s clothing company that not only keeps little girls looking like little girls but also helps change lives. We have built homes for Habitat for Humanity, sponsored many, many local charities, helped with lots of fundraising on line, and we just donated the funds to build an orphanage in Africa. The list is endless. It is all about giving back and when we are able to give back and help others then I know we are in a good place.
What have been some of your major challenges?
There is not one that really trumps all the others. It has been hard not to let the negative things eat me up and it has been hard to find time to be a good friend and mom. Running a business is hard and very challenging, but if it were easy then everyone would do it, right? I’m always up to push myself to the limit to make something happen.
How has social media changed the way you do business (benefits and cons)?
The lack of personal interaction and just picking up the phone to chat is what I notice the most. It is crazy how an email can sound so different if it was spoken instead of typed. We highly encourage our Trunk Keepers to keep personal relationships alive from sending a handwritten invitation to calling customers to check in on their orders. Social media is a great tool to spread the word fast but seems to be the worst tool to fix a problem. I doubt anything will ever replace the loyalty and relationships a face to face business brings
As a photographer I love the Matilda Jane line because of the unique styles and colors. What do you think draws people to your line?
This is a hard question, because I know what I love about Matilda Jane and can only hope it’s what others love. The best thing about my line is it captures the innocence of childhood. It keeps a little girl looking like a little girl. The silhouttes are usually quite simple while the patterns are more playful. It doesn’t over shadow the sparkle in a girl’s personality. It captures it.
Have you considered open up the retail chain and where would it be?
Nope. I actually owned a small boutique when my son, Joe (now 10), was born. I loved having a store, but that is not what Matilda Jane is. A store is filled with merchandise that sits on a shelf. Matilda Jane is a relationship that is meant to be shared person to person. We chose direct selling for its nature to build and strengthen relationships.
What are some of the challenges you face with running a successful business and a household?
The one that comes to mind first is turning of the switch form business owner to mom. It is very hard for me to clear my head of Matilda Jane and live in the moment.
Do you have a life balance secret or rules to live by? (exp. No computer time on the weekends)
Truth? I don’t have much balance it all. I surround myself with great friends and co-workers. We all rely on each other. I’d be lying if I did not say I have a mental breakdown weekly. It is high stress running Matilda Jane. It is great fun as well, so they pretty much balance each other out.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
Certainly there are those days when I just want to throw the towel in, but I know there are hundreds of women who made that towel. And, I know I would have nothing without them and I could never just walk away. It’s not just my towel, it’s everyone’s.
Do you have a motivational quote?
“The greatest risk is the one not taken.” I tore it out of a magazine about 9-10 years ago, and I still have it. I refer to it often when my husband questions my judgment!
If there was one piece of advice you could give a mom interested in launching her own business what would it be?
Don’t give up. Don’t look for all the reasons you can’t do it. Don’t spend all your time planning it and looking for reason you may fail. Do go out there and do it the best you possibly can and, when you do succeed (because you will if you believe in yourself), stay true to your core.
Do you have a favorite business tool and/or resource?
Truth? I can’t think of one … Google?
What is next for your Matilda Jane?
Well, I have been playing with a bedding line, dolls, and sleepwear in my head for years. If I am lucky it will launch next fall. I’ve got my fingers crossed because it is going to be so cute!
What can you tell us about recent launch of Heart Soul Pride, the latest clothing line?
I can tell you it is a line that celebrates heart, soul, and pride. It is the line that brings me back to my roots. It is very much art fair inspired with the largest amount of prints we’ve ever used. And my most favorite, the Lawrence Francis, a sweet top named after my grandpa. Not only is my grandpa a barber but he can build a watch from scratch. So, be on the lookout for some great clock printed fabrics.
Stay tuned for a photo shoot with Miss M showing off her own Matilda Jane dress.