Get up and keep going. It’s not about how many times you fall, it’s about how many times you get back up again.
Alison McFerran is the CEO of Letarte Luxe, a travel Resort Chic lifestyle brand. She was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and began her career in fashion In NYC after graduating from the University of Virginia on an athletic scholarship. With her experience in athletics driving her teamwork and success-oriented mindset, Alison quickly became an invaluable asset to the brands she represented.
Her early years in the industry included employment with worldwide well-known brands, such as Macys, Ann Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap and Lilly Pulitzer. She worked across functions in companies in all areas including buying/merchandising/ planning/ marketing, and product development /design. Alison’s positive attitude & energetic workstyle combined with discipline, passion for product and a strong work ethic provided the avenue for her advancement early on. She soon became an expert in the industry at building brands at both large- scale companies and launching /re-creating brands.
Alison McFerran brings her industry experience, her travel around the country and world to Letarte combining her charmed east coast roots and west coast California living for 10 years to create a Boho chic brand: Letarte Luxe. Her ability to stay on track with new trends and how they translate to different brands with pushed forward lifestyle marketing vision has helped the company become a social media success.
In her free time, Alison enjoys spending time running along the beach with her two golden retrievers and supporting her three kids in their athletic endeavors. As well as shopping boutiques, jet setting, frequenting parties & restaurants all to take in culture and inspiration for product, brand and design visions.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
The idea for Letarte comes from the jet set lifestyle, specifically Maui – bikinis and the original owners. We’ve now rolled out a lifestyle brand to expand on categories and provide apparel and accessories for a target audience of women in their thirties to early forties for beachwear that takes you through all aspects of your life from beach, pool, country club, resort, café, and cocktail parties all with a travel resort look and feel true to the brand.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical workday consists of working closely with several teams that work alongside me to help create and execute strategies and brand vision. As the CEO, I work within all facets of the company and try to be as hands-on as possible as well as be a strong leader and role model. Every day is action packed to say the least. From working with vendors, marketing and production teams to finance and planning teams to prepping for board meetings. The list goes on and on…working on product with design, going to shows and photoshoots are, of course, the most fun! I approach each day with the necessary sense of urgency required to keep to our timetables while making smart decisions.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Our ideas for merchandise come from travel and different cultural experience to shopping the competition and even from daily scrolls on social media staying in tune with the competition and how to outsmart key players in our space. I tend to do my best brainstorming while I am alone out on long walks and runs with beautiful, usually with my dogs. I use this focus time to internalize, reflect and come up with ideas on how to bring an idea or vision to life and to problem solve while identifying opportunities. I will make inspiration boards to conceptualize how to bring all the ideas together to create one vision and alignment for the teams on brand direction.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Right now, the shift in retail from the traditional store to social media selling and e-commerce is very exciting as it forces brands and companies to be more competitively and make the necessary shifts culturally to evolve and not become complacent. We have capitalized on this trend to push our brands travel chic lifestyle and give our customer must haves for vacation and the ability to efficiently shop on the go.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am extremely passionate and driven from within to be successful and achieve goals. I am a risk taker and have the ability to move quickly while multi-tasking and making smart decisions. I want to win. I learn from mistakes and apply to go forward always evolving ensuring not to make the same mistakes again. I push myself to always think of outsmarting the competition, doing things better and understand the white space in the market and how to maximize and opportunity.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I think the best advice to a younger me would be to make sure I kept business and personal separate specifically to keep the emotions out of the business arena. It’s important to recognize that decisions are not made based on a personal level, but on what is best for the company and team. Often passionate, driven people who are creative tend to be emotional which is important to gain a sense of balance and calmness while still moving quickly in business.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Again, being a risk taker is an important aspect of this industry. With my position, I feel it is necessary for me to support the teams that I work with. There have been times when I have been presented with an idea that may be different than what we have previously thought worked. I try to be as transparent and as straightforward as I can be, and if I believe something is worth the try, I do my best to make it happen even if it’s unpopular. I stand by what I do and what I say whether right or wrong whether successful or not. Willing to take the fall for the team to stand up for what I believe is right.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Get up and keep going. It’s not about how many times you fall, it’s about how many times you get back up again. You’ve got to push forward and stay positive. Some days will be amazing and full of successes and other days will be beyond challenging. It’s key to figure out how to bounce back and learn from mistakes so they are not repeated.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The ability to maximize channel distribution across retail stores, wholesale accounts and online while understanding the nuances across markets in order to fulfill the customer and product needs while properly marketing to each channel and speaking to one brand vision at the same time.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have learned from experience that bringing friends into a business relationship can be more difficult than intended. I have been too trusting and have wanted to help on a professional level. I have found that sometimes they don’t understand working environment and dynamics I have had to deal with the consequences and be exposed.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
It’s important to keep an open mind in any business. You have to be willing to listen to new ideas, to give players an opportunity to brainstorm out loud. Within that ideal, it’s equally important to establish your own opinions and rise above gossip or rumors. You’ve got to learn to pick your battles and to not sweat the small stuff.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best money I have spent lately is on sports equipment for my kids. They play lacrosse and soccer. They are excited to be involved and just taking them shopping for what they need brought me such joy.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
There is a software program called Shopify that is designed for running an online retail store we use frequently. It has been instrumental in driving our sales. It analyzes data and algorithms and we use that information to make adjustments with our marketing and product buys and timing.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Good to Great by James C. Collins is an excellent book for learning how to define your key positive characteristics and to maximize your best self to overcome obstacles and drive results.
What is your favorite quote?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails”. Mark Twain
• Be open-minded and willing to take risks.
• Passionate & Driven to win. Be a team player and leader.
• Stay focused on your goals /strategies
• Make smart decision with a sense of urgency and ability to efficiently
• Multi task in a fast pace environment
• Learning Emotional intelligence
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.