The summer before her friend’s wedding, Aubrie Pagano experienced her own Cinderella moment. Unable to find a dress to wear that she truly loved, Pagano decided to make her own. Without the help of Fairy Godmother magic, Pagano labored for a month over a dress that made her feel beautiful and utterly unique. Every woman deserves to feel this way about the clothes they wear, thought Pagano and not long after, she left a career in finance to launch Bow & Drape: the first platform for customizable fashion. With completely personalized products, Bow & Drape puts the freedom to create fun, lovely, feel-great fashion in the hands of women. Pagano takes her passion for fashion seriously—growing Bow & Drape’s online and retail presence while incorporating cutting edge technology such as 3D printing in her fashion and accessory line—so that every woman can have fun playing their own version of Cinderella.
Carrie Hammer: The marriage of fashion and technology with Bow & Drape is incredibly creative. Where do you find creative inspiration? What drives your creativity?
Aubrie Pagano: Creative inspiration comes from outside our business. We want to bring inspiration, voice and fun to everyday products. We must do that by looking outside the runways. I find inspiration everywhere–from Instagram meme accounts to street artists like Art Baby Girl and brands like Glossier and Sugarfina. For me, the key is finding products along with a voice that feel like an inside joke: like we’re your best friend and know exactly what makes you laugh.
Hammer: You’ve talked about making the leap from the financial industry into fashion/design. How did you break through fear or the anxiety that comes with risk and transition? What do you do to feel brave in moments of self-doubt?
Pagano: Everyone has their own personal risk tolerance. I learned that from analyzing investment TAMs, but it also translates to personal life. Everyone has their own personal tolerance for the unknown and we all need to honor that. But if you can jump a tiny hop outside your typical comfort zone, that’s where growth happens. Rather than researching the bejeezus out of a decision, which our Amazon-reviewing-generation is so inclined to do, close your eyes and take a tiny hop. That’s how it works. You can convince yourself out of any decision and risk, but if you keep hopping instead, you’ll find new places and new things you never thought you could do. And that’s where your confidence grows, too. When you take those hops, you find that you learn, become better and ultimately move ahead.
Hammer: Why is it important for you to be a role model and what’s a role model to you?
Pagano: We need diverse role models to show that happiness and success take many forms. We look to successful people and try to see ourselves in them. So what if those people don’t look like you? Or talk like you? That’s not good in my book. I want to be a role model for those around me and who will come after me to show what success can look like if you’re short, skinny-ish, funny, smart, respectful, empathetic, neurotic, insecure girl. I’m just one flavor of a role model. Hopefully someone out there sees a little bit of themselves in me and says, “if she can do it, I can do it, too.”
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