{In The Biz} Jia Wertz of Studio 15

I had the pleasure this past week of interviewing owner, Jia Wertz, of Studio 15 (NYC). I got an immediate impression of her, even though we chatted for just a few short minutes: charming, encouraging, and infectiously energetic. You can totally tell right off the bat she surrounds herself with positive people and really loves what she's doing, which is not only styling and dressing women but empowering them. Jia is blazing the trail for fashion brands to consider the consumer AND the community, not to mention her incredible talent to market to Millennials! Studio 15 literally fuses together our care for a cause and love of a quality (but affordable) garment.

Check out our interview below and the sneak peek to Studio 15 new fall arrivals! (spoiler alert: LOVING that faux fur vest/maxi combo):

TF: Can you tell us a bit about Studio 15? What spurred you to leave a 16-year career in fashion to start your own boutique?! 

JW: Studio 15 is a women's dress boutique headquartered in NYC with pop up shops in Manhattan and San Francisco. We donate proceeds from every sale to a non-profit organization, Kleos MFG, that gives micro-finance loans to women in developing countries so they can start their own small businesses. 

I always knew that I was going to leave the corporate world to start my own business, it was just a matter of time. One of my first jobs in retail was working for two partners who owned a denim company in Canada; they not only taught me everything I know, but they set such a great example, that I knew early on I wanted to run my own fashion business. 

TF: What has this journey been like so far? Biggest challenge?

JW: There are so many extreme ups and downs in the startup world. That is the one thing I would warn every entrepreneur about. You are never ready for all the highs and lows that come your way, but the highs are wonderful and the lows pass, you just have to keep going, make tough decisions, and take calculated risks. 

Our biggest challenge so far has been standing out in the ocean of the internet. There are so many companies out there, and not all reputable ones either, so it can be hard to differentiate yourself when you are new to the game and people aren't yet familiar with your quality and standards.

TF: I love the way you fuse fashion and philanthropy together. Do you see this as a growing segment in the fashion industry, especially for Millennials?

JW: Yes absolutely. Millennials are really impacting the way businesses market themselves now, and the change is definitely for the better. Millennials value companies that have a social mission, and more and more companies are giving back. In a recent Forbes article, I read that "75% said that it’s either fairly or very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit". I could't agree more.

TF: Speaking of Millennials (because we are THE most complicated, but rewarding demographic), what do you find is the best way to cater to our expectations and needs as a business owner/marketer?

JW: It is really simple actually: be genuine. It's interesting to me because I have worked in business development in the retail/fashion industry for over 16 years now and I have never changed the way I catered to customers, not even with Millennials. The secret sauce for me has always been to relate to the customer and treat them just as you would treat your friends. And if you do that, customers can sense that you are genuine and have their best interest in mind. If you were shopping with your best friend, you wouldn't convince her to purchase a poor-fitting dress, so don't convince a customer to buy it either. In simple terms, that is the trait that Millennials value. Today, many companies who did not have that focus are having to shift their sales strategies, employee training, etc. but that way of thinking is not new to Studio 15. 

In my past experience, when I was creating training programs for some of the largest retailers in the U.S., I would train the store employees to send customers to competitors if we didn't have what they were actually looking for. Of course I made sure they exhausted all options with us first, but they were never to sell a customer something the customer didn't want or something that wasn't flattering on. I was criticized for this many times over the years. What people didn't understand is that the customer valued the honesty so much, they became a loyal customer without even making a purchase. And they came back whenever they needed something in the future. It was all about the long term plan, not the short term.

TF: What's the best advice you've ever received?

JW: The best advice I've ever received is that you can say almost anything to anyone, it is all in your delivery. You can even fire someone from a job, but the way you say it can be the difference between a hostile situation or an amicable one. Even the slightest change it tone can make a big difference. 

TF: What is your biggest milestone or biggest achievement with Studio 15?

JW: Our biggest milestone was very recent, when we launched our Bespoke Collection, which allows our customers to be a designer for a day and customize a one-of-kind piece that we produce for them. Customers just love it, it is a very fun experience for them. 

Our biggest achievement, however, would be the donations we have made to Kleos Microfinance Group to help women in developing countries start their own businesses. A couple years ago I had the opportunity to go to Uganda and work with these women firsthand and they had so much heart and determination, it really was eye-opening.

TF: How does your personal style compare to the items on Studio 15?

JW: My personal style is definitely reflected in Studio 15's collection to some degree. One of the reasons I started a dress business is because I myself love dresses. They are such an easy garment to wear, you don't have to coordinate pieces, you can just slip into it and instantly feel beautiful. But we do have a team of buyers who select the collection we carry, so everyone's style and opinion comes together to create Studio 15's style. 

TF: Favorite trend you are loving right now for Fall 2015?

JW: Capes and Fur Vests (faux of course)! 

TF: Okay...have to ask...can we get a sneak peek of this Fall's new arrivals over at Studio 15?! Any awesome deets or colors featured this season?

JW: Absolutely! For Fall we have some gorgeous maxi dresses, killer faux fur vests, and two-piece sets in beautiful earthy neutrals. (Just for you: included some sneak peek pics that aren't released anywhere yet).

Comment your favorite look!!

"Be a lady with confident style, delicate heels, and bold lipstick." xx The Frillish
Cassandra KicakComment