Today we’d like to introduce you to Bettina Benson.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Bettina. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
While working towards my MBA at Florida A&M University, before Instagram and other forms of social media were used as a standard mode of marketing, I launched an online boutique that offered a curated selection of styles for the budget conscious yet fashion forward college student. On my breaks, I would take buying trips to LA and New York; this experience allowed me to gain more insights on both the design and business sides of the fashion industry as well as an understanding of what it means to anticipate the needs and wants of the customer I served. As I learned more about the industry and retail, I developed a desire to create her my line.
After the birth of our daughter, Chloe, in 2013, I realized that she needed to live authentically and for me, that meant rethinking my career. In 2015, I picked up where I left off in 2009 and began executing the vision of creating my clothing line.
Chloe Kristyn was conceptualized in 2015. I began developing our first styles at the end of 2015 and officially launched our website and Instagram in June of 2016.
Chloe Kristyn started as women and girls line, offering coordinating styles of dresses. I sought to offer versatile dresses for women, while at the same time offering a more modern selection of coordinating mother/daughter options. Being well aware of the resurgence of apparel manufacturing in the US, I sought to partner with local seamstresses for the production of the line.
In early 2017, armed with significantly more knowledge about the product development and feedback from my customers, I formed a new product development team and revisited our product offering. I made the decision to focus on the women’s line. After spending 10 years interfacing with professional women at all levels, many of whom are mothers, I had an understanding of what professional women desired in a functional wardrobe. I also noticed the lack of fashion designers and retailers specifically targeting women between the ages of 40 to 55. These women are at the peak of their wage-earning years and their multi-faceted lifestyles require broader wardrobes. I took this knowledge along with my business and sales experience and applied it to Chloe Kristyn.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have been many challenges and obstacles; however, it was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t know how difficult it is to build and grow a fashion brand. Had I known, I may not have started.
Starting a business solo, raising a toddler and working full-time is very difficult. There have been many nights that I’ve had less than 4 hours of sleep and some nights when I didn’t sleep at all. That is no longer part of my regimen; that type of schedule is no longer sustainable, but I had to crash before I realized this.
Finding a product development team that can properly execute your vision is paramount. I found my dream team on the third try but it took about 18 months. My team is the heartbeat of my company. Our lead pattern-maker has 35 years of pattern-making experience in the LA garment industry and has worked for several major brands. She has helped through many challenges as well as provided valuable resources and contacts.
Manufacturing is another challenge. We are committed to manufacturing in the United States and most manufactures say they work with startups but production costs are very high for smaller quantities. I had to search high an low for manufactures who would work with me without almost doubling production costs for smaller quantities.
Learning to delegate was another challenge. It’s easy to think you can do it all yourself but you end up hindering progress.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Chloe Kristyn – what should we know?
Chloe Kristyn is where classic, figure friendly, silhouettes, converge with feminine details and bold original prints, culminating in effortless elegance. Thoughtful design and the use of timeless techniques, combined with a methodical textile selection process fueled by the goal of offering versatility, functionality, and movement, resulting in a wardrobe that strikes an effortless integration of work and life for the modern, ever-evolving woman.
At the core of Chloe Kristyn is infinite love; first and foremost infinite love of self so we can be our best for the ones we love and the women we serve. This focus and philosophy are what allows us to keep our company values of quality and integrity, diversity and inclusion and exclusivity at the center of every garment we design and manufacture.
There is nothing fast about our design process. We give serious thought to what the modern woman wants and needs in her wardrobe. We allow this to guide the process of determining what will be in each collection. We abandon trends and add our distinctive feminine touch to classic silhouettes. We operate with a focus on 4 core values:
Quality and Integrity – We utilize time-honored techniques in our product development process such as draping and hand drafting our patterns. We only produce what’s needed at the time; this allows us to address any issues that may slip through the cracks and quickly implement customer feedback on fit and fabrication. We source our materials from all over the world; our intricate fabrications are sourced from some of the same suppliers that are used by high-end designer brands. We support the US garment industry; our product is made in NYC’s garment district, LA and Atlanta. We partner with sewers that have worked with some of the most upscale fashion houses in the United States.
Diversity and Inclusion – We truly place a high focus on fit. Our pattern grader spent 13 years as the head pattern maker for Gerber childrenswear as well as 13 years in textile and apparel research. Our sample is size 6-8 vs the standard 0-2. We size and grade with real women in mind, keeping in mind that most women aren’t perfectly proportioned. We also use a variety of women in our imagery.
Exclusivity – All of our prints are created in-house and we are strategic with our distribution strategy.
Community – We create community and support our community of women. We place a high focus on not only connecting with our target clientele via social media but connecting with her in person by planning private trunk shows. Chloe Kristyn believes in not only serving the women that are our clients but in serving women who are victims of Domestic Violence. We are an official partner of the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyer’s Foundation (AVLF). Chloe Kristyn is donating a portion of each (DTC) sale to the AVLF. We believe that it is our duty to advocate for women in all the ways that we can. It is our desire to bridge the gap and inspire recognition of our common humanity and significance; we realize there is much work to be done.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
It definitely takes a village. My husband is always quick to remind me how much I have been able to accomplish and figure out when I start to doubt myself or place unnecessary pressure on myself. My Mom, Dad, and In-Laws are always there when I need help with Chloe.
My team is top-notch. Each person on my development team has been in the industry for at least 30 years and they are always willing to share resources and advice. When I am unsure about something, they are always there to help me figure it out.
I am grateful for each and every client; support is critical for a growing business. My cousin practically buys every style that I design, some in multiple colors. In addition to being a recurring client, she’s also a JD/MBA and always makes herself available when I want to have conversations regarding business strategy.
I am so excited about our partnership with the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyer’s Foundation. When I approached them about a partnership, they were ecstatic and receptive. We have so many amazing events and initiatives in the works and I am grateful for their support and grateful that we can use fashion as a platform to raise awareness of domestic violence.
- Website: www.chloekristyn.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram/chloekristyn
- Facebook: www.facebook/chloekristyn