- Tell us about yourself
Fashion has always been a way for me to channel my creative side. And, my enthusiasm for empowering others through style reflects both my personal journey and that of Marie Oliver.
In 2015, I found myself lacking joy and creativity in my career and upended my rising business career to pursue launching Marie Oliver. I had no formal design experience and lived outside of the traditional fashion incubators like NY or LA.
Marie Oliver is now proudly headquartered in Greensboro, NC which is home for me, my husband Peter (who leads the business and operations for Marie Oliver), and our dog, Linley.
Tell us about your brand
I launched Marie Oliver in Spring 2015 to add more color and cheer to the world. My affinity for bright patterns and deliberate details—from a statement sleeve to embellishments, and embroidery—have become signature to our collections.
Our monthly collections are designed to be inspiring and up lifting. We aim to create collections that women of all ages and sizes will have fun wearing: feminine silhouettes in bold colors and prints that flatter. Our distinctive language of print and color embodies an optimistic voice that empowers modern women to pursue life more vibrantly and joyfully.
What was the initial idea that led to starting your brand?
After coming up empty handed when I wanted a specific dress in a particular, vibrant shade, I became inspired to explore fashion by my father’s frequent reminder to “find something you love and learn how to be successful doing it.”
Marie Oliver is just that - being creative is food for my soul, and from launching the collection to now celebrating our 5 year anniversary, it is has been a rewarding and fulfilling journey along the way. I still learn something new every day!
What is the biggest challenge of owning your business?
Prioritizing and time management are crucial. Everyone wears a lot of hats and there are endless, new, priorities each day. In starting and owning a business, to use a proverbial saying- it’s one thing to get the wheels on the bus, it’s another thing to keep them on the bus!
What is the biggest reward of owning your business?
As we approach Marie Oliver’s 5 year anniversary, it is so rewarding to look back and reflect on the milestones we have achieved, celebrate where the brand (and business) is today, and dream about plans for the future.
And, on a continuous basis, the most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing each collection come to fruition. From the initial inspiration for each season to seeing it on the retail floor, it is a labor of love and a much more involved process than what people understand.
What inspires you?
Our customer is at the heart of each collection- she motivates us and activates our imagination. As we design each collection, we are continually thinking about where our customer is going, what she is doing, and most importantly, how she wants to feel. She is optimistic, expressive, and confident; creating designs that embody these feelings continue to drive each of our collections.
How do you manage it all?
I wish there was a more novel answer- in reality- “fully rested’ is overrated and sleep deprived is a way of life. I have learned to be a kung fu master in multitasking. It takes an unbelievable amount of determination and grit to stay grounded and focused despite a never-ending to-do list and whirlwind of daily obstacles. Also, as our team has grown, I’ve learned the power of delegating.
How has COVID affected your business?
The COVID pandemic has been unbelievably challenging, but we've chosen to focus on the ‘silver linings’. Most notably, it has been a time to pause and reflect on our business, and an opportunity to reassess and evaluate. As we learn a ‘new normal’, we are more knowledgeable about our business and making informed decisions to be more intentional and purposeful as we move into the future.
During the pandemic, I also had many positive, enriching conversations with our key specialty retailers. I was remiss to have not taken this time before. I learned so much and am confident it will be reflective in our partnerships going forward.
What are your favorite pieces from your current collection?
I am a top and jeans girl by day and live in maxi dresses after hours and on weekends. Our Billie blouse has been a staple this season. It is so versatile and comfortable, perfect for #abovethekeyboard dressing. I have also had our Luciana maxi on rotation frequently this spring. We just debuted her ‘sister’ – the Tatum maxi – with a shorter sleeve for summer. She is already packed for a short staycation this weekend!