FIGUE // STEPHANIE VON WATZDORF
Figue (pronounced “fig”) is a new luxury collection for women. Named for the ancient fruit that founder Stephanie von Watzdorf enjoyed as a child in Italy. Figue is defined by a global gypsy-meets-jet-set spirit—bringing together the urban energy of Paris and London with the natural beauty of the Mediterranean and Stephanie’s passion for travel. Stephanie has emerged with her own collection that’s a natural extension of her personal style. The result is a seasonless brand for women who travel—or dream of traveling—to exotic destinations and who enjoy a lifestyle that is every bit as luxurious as it is bohemian.
Was there a moment in your life when the light bulb went off and you just knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur and start Figue?
Figue is a lifelong dream of mine, and the pieces started to fall into place over time. I have spent my whole career in the design world and have always loved working with artisans and finding beautiful things. I also felt that there was opportunity in the market for easy, globally-inspired, seasonless dressing.
How did you come up with the name Figue?
I am part French and it is natural for me to think in both French and English. Figs are one of my favorite fruits and the smell and taste of them bring back all the best memories of my childhood summers in the Mediterranean.
Once you knew you wanted to launch Figue what steps did you take to make that a reality?
Over the years, I processed and envisioned what the essence of the line would be. I knew that I wanted it to be a lifestyle concept so I methodically collected imagery that would convey the mood of the collection. I created 21 mood boards, came up with the mission statement, the categories, the feel of it, the look of the store and what the branding would be. A journey to discover the identity and spirit of Figue.
I knew I wanted to start with the symbol of the snake. It is my Chinese birth sign and I am drawn to the way they are depicted as powerful protectors in mythology. I found a fantastic branding designer (Gillian Schwartz of Schwartz and Sons) to work with me on the graphics.
Once I had the vision and the branding, I moved to the next stage, which was to create a business plan. This took over a year. The business plan is a very important step because it helps you formulate and process all that is required and needed to open and to run a business. One has to think at least five years into the future.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
Communicate, listen, and be patient. It is imperative to communicate the message and the path of the business to your team all the time. That is something you do not always realize in the moment. Everything starts to move very quickly, and there are always at least ten pieces moving at the same time.
What has surprised you about owning your own business?
The pressures that I put on myself are pretty intense. It is not just thinking about myself; it is thinking about all the people you work with. The strength of your team is everything!
Do you have a daily routine or rituals you do?
Each morning, I have coffee with cinnamon and then try to do something physical like walk my dogs or go to the gym. I also break for lunch everyday and I encourage everyone on the team to do the same, so that they interact with each other and get time away from the computer screen. I like them to have a moment to think away from the desk.
What (if any) hardships have you had along the way?
Managing time for myself and my team is key. I travel a lot for work, which is a blessing but can also be extremely challenging.
What do you wish you would have known going into this?
Impossible to say.
What have you found works for you as far as organizing your business and time?
My mornings are always dedicated to design. I focus on other parts of the business in the afternoons.
Highlight of your career so far?
When my angel investor said to go and make this business happen. Need I say more?
Looking back, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently. I learn something new everyday.
Best advice you’ve been given? Any advice that you’d give other entrepreneurs?
I would say, “Trust your instincts. Do not conform to what everybody else does and at the same time listen to all the advice that comes your way. Think differently, and most importantly, follow your dream with heart and soul.”
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