In a bi-weekly series, we're interviewing female executives, founders, CEOs—basically, boss ladies—on their one "power suit" a.k.a. the outfit they wear every day for easy dressing to conquer whatever the job throws at them.
One lesson I've learned in talking to entrepreneurs for this series is that you don't need a wealth of experience or knowledge in business, production, or design to build a product (though, it helps, of course). You just need an idea—a brilliant one. And often times, this good idea is born out of a curiosity or simple necessity in one's life. For Vicki and Rich Fulop, the founders of cult-bedding company Brooklinen, it all started with some bedsheets in Las Vegas. The pair traveled there in 2012 and slept on a set of sheets so comfortable, they set out to buy them from the hotel's store. Unfortunately, they discovered, the sheets cost $800.
"That price was crazy. How can bedsheets be $800?" recalls Vicki Fulop. "They were so comfortable and nice, though. That got my husband—who was in business school at [NYU's] Stern at the time—curious about why luxury sheets were so expensive and why inexpensive sheets had such terrible quality."
They dove down a rabbit hole researching the bedding industry, gears spinning. The Fulops studied and investigated, doing everything from cold-calling production factories to sitting in Barnes & Noble reading about textiles (neither had experience in the area). The duo also informally interviewed people in coffee shops and department stores, asking what they looked for in bedding and what they bought online.
For their business model, Fulop cites Warby Parker and Everlane's direct-to-consumer method as initial inspiration—it would let them provide high quality bedding at a lower price point. "At the time, people told us this was a crazy idea, that no one wants to buy bedding online because they want to feel it in the store, but we thought differently," says Fulop.
They launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 with a goal of $50,000 and found a factory that would create a small batch of sheets for them. "We did $200,000-something in preorders, so that told us we were on to something," shares Fulop. "We used the Kickstarter money to build our own website, which we officially launched later that year." Brooklinen, which employs about 31 people in the Dumbo neighborhood of NYC, just celebrated its five-year anniversary; in that time it has expanded beyond sheets into cozy linen robes and fluffy towels—it's become a lifestyle. "I want Brooklinen to own comfort in every touch point in people's lives," says Fulop.
So what does the co-founder of a startup focused on coziness wear to the office? Not suits, that's for sure. Read up on Fulop's—now the chief communications officer for the company—daily routine and more on her work style, ahead.
Her Morning Routine
"I am not the earliest riser. I wake up around 7:30 or 8 a.m. The first thing I do is read the news and check my phone to see if there are any urgent emails. Then I make myself tea—I am a tea instead of coffee drinker. I watch my latest recording of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen because he makes me laugh. Usually I make myself breakfast, like eggs or something quick. Finally, I shower and get dressed before walking the dog (Rich and I alternate) and bring him into the office with us. There's a little posse of dogs at the Brooklinen office."
Her Getting Dressed Strategy
"I have always liked to dress casually, so my style is tailored, comfortable, and I like to wear color. I knew I never wanted to wear a suit or anything like that to work."
Her Work Uniform
"I try to keep my office look as close as possible to my own personal style. Our office is casual, so I am a big jeans wearer, whether that be wide leg jeans, crop jeans, or skinny jeans—they're my everyday uniform, for the most part. Once in awhile I will wear a dress from Reformation, or a similar store. With pregnancy, I've been wearing more dresses and I've discovered all the maternity jeans: J brand makes great ones and Citizens of Humanity I like too. I also like Rag & Bone. I try to keep my style the way it was before I became pregnant with some small tweaks to accommodate my new body. [Editor's note: Fulop gave birth to a baby boy, Lucas, in May.]
On top, I usually wear a cute sweatshirt, sweater, or blouse from brands like Ganni, along with a fun shoe. I'm not the type that wears stilettos to the office because I want to move around comfortably. I love my Adidas and Veja sneakers that are trendy right now and I wear my Stella McCartney platforms a lot. For sandals, I like Ancient Greek and also Loeffler Randall."
The Three Words That Describe Her Power Outfit
"Comfortable, minimalist with a little bit of flair."
"Figure it out. Nothing’s too hard to figure out."
If you love Fulop's casual, successful startup work style, shop similar pieces, below.
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