Carol Stella, Owner of Champagne Corsets & Designs, LLC, told Innovation Destination Hartford about her life as an entrepreneur.
IDH: Have you always been entrepreneurial?
STELLA: Yes. I have always worked toward owning, designing, and running my own couture fashion design business. In addition to expanding my art and educating women in corsetry, I am also working with the Connecticut schools, Girl Scouts, and youth groups teaching them the art of sewing and designing.
IDH: When and why did you launch the company?
STELLA: After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology, I spent 11 years as a fashion designer in New York City. In 2013 I established Champagne Corsets & Designs, LLC and opened my very first boutique in Montclair, NJ.
IDH: What brought you from New Jersey to Connecticut?
STELLA: After being away from my family for 16 years I decided it was time to move back home to Connecticut. I left when I was 18 years old to establish a career as a fashion designer in New York City.
In addition to my career, I have also established many wonderful relationships in the fashion industry—and with the way today’s technology is, you can really be anywhere in the world while still maintaining relationships and being in-the-know!
IDH: How did you develop the business concept?
STELLA: Corsetry has also been my passion and being a woman who wears corsets, I think it is very important to help educate others about the many benefits they have to offer for both men and women. Living in a world of mass-produced fashion, I have always felt there was a void for handcrafted, custom-made, bespoke, modern-day corsets.
IDH: What makes you unique?
STELLA: I design based on every one of my clients’ needs and wants. I will use my expertise to make recommendations based on each client. I am able and willing to travel anywhere in the world and I am constantly up-to-date with all of the latest cutting-edge fashion. I attend trade shows and fashion shows and I am always shopping the market. And since I am in the tristate area, I am exposed to the greatest fashion district NYC has to offer!
Customer service is very important to me and it is so rewarding when my customers become a friend and not just a client.
In addition to the fashion aspect of my product, corsets also have many health benefits that I take into consideration while designing. People with spinal problems, such as scoliosis, or those with internal injuries may be fitted with a form of corset to immobilize and protect the torso. Supportive and corrective corsets can be made for those with moderate to severe scoliosis or lordosis, or for those with back pain who need the support of a properly fitted corset.
Little-known fact: Artist Andy Warhol was shot in 1968 and never fully recovered. He wore a corset for the rest of his life.
IDH: How are you marketing and finding clientele?
STELLA: Social media has a huge impact on today’s society. You can find us at www.champagnecorsets.com, we’re also on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
I am presently working on a national campaign utilizing magazine ads and digital media. I am also working on collaborating with other small businesses and fashion and bridal boutiques all around Connecticut.
IDH: What are your company's future goals?
STELLA: To establish national recognition.
IDH: How do you define success?
STELLA: Achieving perceived goals, fulfillment of the ideal, and unconditional happiness.
IDH: What words describe your life as an entrepreneur?
STELLA: Liberating, challenging, and rewarding.
IDH: What are your biggest challenges as a startup?
STELLA: Finding the demographic for the product I create, being unable to get everything I want done in one day, and knowing when to be done (or stop working) for the day.
IDH? Any advice for others launching a startup?
STELLA: Never give up on your dreams and passion!
To learn more about Champagne Corsets & Designs, visit www.champagnecorsets.com.