Google Apps is a suite of online business-class applications that includes Gmail for business with integrated IM, voice and video chat, shared calendars, word processing, spreadsheets, internal websites, and more.
Plus, it’s a great deal - it costs less than $5 per user a month (only $50 per user a year). You can try Google Apps for 30 days, FREE.
Founded by Featured Lady Corinne Phipps, wardrobe styling firm Urban Darling has gained significant momentum and recognition in fashion consulting circles and established itself as the go-to expert styling source. Since Urban Darling’s launch in 2006 with its signature Closet Audit, Martha Stewart’s Real Simple, CNN.com, SheKnows.com, The View from the Bay, E! Online, MyStyle.com, NBC Bay Area, iVillage, The Fashion List, HotMomsClub and MSNBC have all taken notice. Corinne, a pioneer in offering wardrobe stylists an innovative licensing opportunity, is one of San Jose’s “Top 40 Under 40” up-and-coming businesswomen.
A corporate refugee who never felt comfortable in a structured work environment, Corinne always found herself in administrative positions rather than the creative roles for which she yearned. “I must have held 15 to 20 jobs before Urban Darling and finally realized I wasn’t a cubical kind of gal,” she says. “So, I began to investigate whether being my own boss was for me.”
As Corinne considered entrepreneurship, she consulted a business intuitive who simply asked her what she liked to do. “A bit embarrassed, I sunk my head and replied, ‘I really like to shop,’” recalls Corinne. The intuitive’s immediate response was, “I hate to shop!” At first, the future Urban Darling founder thought her predilection for retail purchasing was being dismissed. To the contrary, she received encouragement.
“I was 34 years-old and had no idea that there were people out there who worked as wardrobe stylists, image consultants and personal shoppers because I never needed help like that,” she says. “At that moment, the concept for Urban Darling was born.”
Before starting her company, Corinne was a top-selling advertising representative for a local San Jose magazine. She stayed on for eight months before committing full-time to Urban Darling. “Fortunately, I have a very supportive husband who told me to just go for it,” says Corinne. Today, Urban Darling is privately owned and invested, but Corinne plans to pursue venture capitalists and angel investors for future growth.
The name Urban Darling materialized while Corinne was listing adjectives that described the company she was creating. “I wrote urban and darling in that order, and when I read the word pairing out loud I just knew.” Corinne immediately checked to see if urbandarling.com was taken. “When I saw that the domain was available, I lost my mind!”
Urban Darling’s focus is to help clients maximize their existing wardrobe by creating new outfits from the clothes they already own and to help them smart-shop for items that fit their wardrobe, personal look and the image they want to project. Corinne says, “We call it Purge, Merge, Splurge.” Philanthropically, Corinne is actively involved with local Career Closet chapters and will debut her non-profit Darling Project next year.
In 2009, Urban Darling became the first fashion consulting company to license its brand to stylists across the country. “I saw an opportunity to assist women and men with breaking into the wardrobe styling industry,” she explains. To date, she has thirteen licensees from San Francisco to Philadelphia and envisions reaching 150.
However, this LWL Incubator Intensive graduate’s decision to license the Urban Darling brand didn’t always go smoothly. “Last year I brought on someone who wasn’t the right fit for the company and didn’t realize it until after the agreements were signed,” Corinne freely admits. “I learned the hard way not to do anything with contracts before consulting my lawyer.” As a result, she implemented a more discriminating screening process for Urban Darling’s licensees and remains pragmatic. “Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake,” Corinne suggests. “Just learn from it and move on.”
To maximize the momentum Urban Darling gained with its new licensees, this summer Corinne relaunched the Urban Darling website with a complete overhaul. “I was tired of conforming to what everyone else’s idea of a wardrobe stylist, personal shopper and image consulting was,” she says. “I told my business manager and web designer that I wanted to invigorate my company and blaze my own trail.”
And blaze she did, with a home page photo of a fashion-distressed woman holding a blowtorch to her closet. Urban Darling’s new interactive website leverages the company’s 60,000 unique page views with a blog and new online magazine. With a focus on the person, the fun and the individual side of style, Urban Darling has gained a loyal following and enjoyed rapid growth.
What we learned from Corinne: “Never put your business in a box. Always let it grow.”
“Even if there are already companies out there doing what you love, do it anyway.”
The Thrill of it All
“It’s not easy, but launching a business is exhilarating.”
“Many new female entrepreneurs talk themselves out of things because they listen to outside influences. Be tenacious and don’t let anything get you down.”
This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe® Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.