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If we had to pick one handbag designer to be loyal to for the rest of our days, it might just be Clare Vivier. Classic, modern and infused with just a little bit of French charm, this brand has us coveting pretty much everything that pops up online and in stores (the Simple Tote is our all time fave). We’ve often thought about opening a little shop with beautifully curated must-haves in a charming neighborhood but Clare has already done just that, and continues to do so, expanding her stores nationwide. Read on to find out the next lucky city to get their very own shop and what Clare is enamored with, it might surprise you.

Clare Vivier

Clare, you have the most impeccable style and genius eye, how did you develop this passion? Were you always interested in fashion from a young age?

I’ve always been interested in fashion, starting as a little girl wearing my mom’s clothes. I remember wearing a slip skirt like a dress, and convincing myself that others believed it was a gown. This continued in grade school, I begged my mom to buy me Gloria Vanderbilt jeans when they first came out, and then in junior high school, I was the first person with Guess Jeans. I was also obsessed with Esprit. I thought it was a chicest and most cosmopolitan brand around at the time. Anyway, suffice it to say that even through college as an English major, I would write papers deconstructing fashion.

We know you were a journalist before becoming a designer. How do you think your background has influenced your career?

I think every job I worked along the way helped me in some way get to where I am now. Being a journalist helped me appreciate the process of honing my inspiration and translating it in a way that other people can relate to and love just as much as I do.

Did you have a mentor that helped you in the early days? What were your biggest mistakes? Successes?

I didn’t have a mentor in the early days. My first mentor was Steven Alan, a relationship that developed organically about a year after I started selling my bags at his stores.

I honestly cannot even recall the biggest mistakes in my career, because I don’t look at things that way. Anything that didn’t turn out the way I anticipated, we just moved on from. I have a mantra that I try to follow when things get tough, which is: “everything is going to be ok.” I try to repeat that to myself when times are rough—surprisingly, it helps. I think having a wonderful support network of friends and especially my family, is how I know that no matter what, it’ll be ok.

My biggest successes are my stores. I can’t believe that we have 6 of them (hopefully soon there will be 7, if a space we have our eye on in San Francisco works out), where we get to tell our story and bring a little joy into our customers’ lives.

Clare Vivier

I have a mantra that I try to follow when things get tough, which is: “everything is going to be ok.” I try to repeat that to myself when times are rough—surprisingly, it helps.

You are based in Los Angeles but also have retail stores in New York. What is your company culture like and what qualities do you look for when hiring new employees?

We have a pretty relaxed studio, and I try to instill friendliness as the number one quality after you’ve been hired. We are all stressed in our jobs, and so to have cattiness on top of that is just unacceptable.  It brings me joy to see the deep friendships made between employees. When hiring, I’m attracted to someone who is driven and smart – and not just book smart, but hopefully also has a tiny bit of street smarts as well. Then I hope to find someone who will meld well with the culture we’ve created.

What has been your biggest lesson in running your six stores?

You must be able to delegate and get a good retail operations manager!

What 3 tips would you offer young designers starting their careers?

Keep your blinders on, and focus on our own goals. Build authentic relationships. Always stay curious and open to necessary changes.

How would you describe your personal style? What designers are you most influenced or inspired by?

My personal style changes with time, mood, weather and city. I would say I love distinct aspects of both femininity and masculinity. I’m always attracted to a bold color and mixing textures and fabrics. Right now I’m loving Celine, Prada and Frame.

As entrepreneurs, we are constantly on the go. What is the perfect carry-all to get us through the day?

Sandrine. She’s a large tote that is a perfect carry-all for a working woman, like myself.

clare vivier

Keep your blinders on, and focus on our own goals. Build authentic relationships. Always stay curious and open to necessary changes.

Often our work day continues into nighttime events, dinners and parties. What is an easy way to go from day to night?

I always like to have a pair of heels either at my office or in my car – I feel like you can transform any outfit to evening with heels. This is LA after all, where things are pretty casual. Then I’ll usually grab my Frankie – the perfect evening clutch.

Clare VivierWhat is one bag that you think every woman should have in their wardrobe?

Fabienne, the most beautiful everyday bag that can be equally casual and elegant. It’s lovely in cuoio vachetta, a leather that wears beautifully over time.

Clare Vivier

What would our readers be surprised to learn about you? Any hidden talents?

Not really, although I’m oddly obsessed with hopscotch and am constantly finding the pattern in everything I’m looking at. Bet you didn’t think that was coming!

Your clutches are the perfect gifts and I always feel like such a hero when I find the perfect color combo for my friends.  What are a few items on your wish list this holiday season?

Hmmm…

1. I’d be happy with lovely cards from people.
2. I also like the idea of art books.
3. A donation to one of my favorite charities/organizations, such as Every Mother Counts or Planned Parenthood.

Running your own business can be all consuming.  What do you do to escape it all?

I love when I get to stay close to home on the weekends. I’ll go on a hike through Elysian Park with my son, Oscar and dog, Paco. I also love to just relax in my bedroom, my favorite room in our house, with the balcony doors open reading a book.

What is the first thing you do in the morning?  Last thing you do at night?

I go into my son’s room and wake him up by giving him a snuggle. Then I make coffee and usually his lunch. At night, I’m usually in bed with my laptop catching up on last emails, then I put it down and try to read a bit to get out of my own head.

What are your 3 Pearls of Motherhood Wisdom?

1. Don’t get tunnel vision – all the tough parenting times end, don’t despair.

2. Don’t be a helicopter parent – teach them the dangers of falling off the deck, for example, then let them be (as much as you can bare!). They’re smarter than you think.

3. As much as possible, don’t do things for them, teach them to do it, then ask them if they need help if they’re struggling, but try not to just do it for them.

Clare Vivier

Don’t get tunnel vision – all the tough parenting times end, don’t despair.

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