Here at Stilettogal, I'm a firm believer that the outfit starts with the shoes but for Kelly Cook, it's all about the most universal accessory of all: the bag. As the co-founder alongside Tina Craig at Snob Global Media, responsible for bringing you the infamous Bag Snob and now Snob Essentials sites, Kelly knows about all things Snob and today she's sharing with me more details about what Snob Essentials is all about, the 5 bag essentials every woman needs to have, and why the most successful business partners need to start off as friends first.
Hillary Gadsby: The million dollar question - what is it about bags that you love so much that you knew you (and Tina Craig) would be blogging about them?
Kelly Cook: I had no idea I would be blogging about bags. My mom used to say, all you do is shop and talk about shopping, is that what you are going to do with your life? Even I was shocked when I actually turned that into a career! We never intended to make money doing this, but that is what is so wonderful about this entire experience - we pursued our passion, pure unadulterated passion, and we owe our success to maintaining that frame of mind.
Of course I love bags, everyone loves bags! Bags are universal. No matter where you live and who you are, you need bags to carry your things when you leave the home. A woman's bag is deeply personal. I feel like I have everything at my fingertips when I leave the home with a properly filled bag. Some psychologists have even gone as far as saying it is an extension of the womb. But it is also the one accessory that does not discriminate. There is no sizing and a great bag looks great on everyone. Nothing completes an outfit the way a bag does, it is the final exclamation point!
HG: Can you tell me more about your new site, snobessentials.com and how it differs from Bag Snob?
KC: We have worked very hard and are so excited and proud of the new site. The new format aggregates all of our channels into one easy to navigate site for all things Snob. It also allows us to cover every Snob topic under the sun, from food and wine to travel to home design to art. It is still a blog format but has more of an editorial feel. Since our content is about beautiful things, this new site is very much focused on imagery.
HG: What is it like to run a blog alongside a co-founder and what should anyone looking to start up a business with a friend needs to know before doing it?
KC: It has been the greatest adventure and the greatest challenge. But for the most part, it has been been a wonderful and beautiful thing even when we have disagreements. At the end of any dispute we've ever had, our love for each other always wins out to resolve it in a way only lifelong friends can. There is no way we can be where we are today without each other. It doesn't matter if you started as friends or not, to be successful partners you need to be friends. You need to trust, respect and support each other.
We understand and know each other better than our husbands and families, and this is crucial because there are times when miscommunication and/or misunderstandings would have taken place if we didn't step back and think, "Oh wait, she wouldn't do that, or she probably didn't mean it that way."
The most amazing thing is that we completely support each other. If something is happening in my life, she knows exactly what she needs to do to help me get through it, whether at work or on a personal level. The slack we cut each other is the only way we could work especially with our busy lives as full time moms. If I'm in a jam, I send her one text and she's on it to cover for me. And I do the same for her. If you don't have this kind of friendship with someone, I would highly discourage you to start a business together.
Here's my one piece of advice: always acknowledge and appreciate what the other has done and is doing. It's everything.
HG: What was your most challenging moment in business?
KC: I can't get into specifics but we recently had an incredibly difficult decision to make. It sounds like a good problem to have but we had to choose between 2 different opportunities that offered the same thing. We had become very good friends with the person behind option 1 even though it was obvious that option 2 was a much better business decision. We were advised by everyone we consulted with that option 2 was the clear and obvious choice. We are both very emotional and it is never a good thing to have to take back your word so it was heart wrenching to finally decide on option 2. The good thing is, at the end we were able to work with our friend under a different capacity. But I will never forget that feeling I had knowing that someone out there thought I was greedy and ruthless, which is not who I am.
HG: I know you're all about bags, but here on Stilettogal, it's the business of shoes! What kind of shoe are you and why?
KC: I used to be a Stiletto Gal myself, fashion over function all the way. Now I'm more about balance - with a busy work life and being a full time mom to 2 very active girls, I've had to compromise. When it comes to heels I opt for wedges, I still get the height and the flattering lines but I'm comfortable and I can walk! But that doesn't mean I don't have a huge collection of "valet" shoes, the beauties I take out when I know there will be limited standing and walking, only from valet to inside the restaurant.
HG: If you could collaborate with any designer to create a handbag line, who would you want to work with and why?
KC: We have already collaborated with DKNY on a capsule collection of our 5 essentials, a concept we've conceived. In order to build a fully functional bag wardrobe you need bags in each of these 5 categories; tote, treasure, fashion, clutch and travel. This will cover all of your life's events. Once you have one of each you can buy deeper in to the tote and clutch category. Ultimately you should buy deeper in to each category but this gives women a guideline so they don't keep buying black totes and end up not having the perfect bag for a musical festival (fashion) or a wedding (clutch or treasure).
The DKNY collaboration was a dream come true and allowed us a glimpse in to the other side. After experiencing the huge success and the fun we had, we began looking for partners to work for our own collection. Last year we signed with Beanstalk, the gold standard in licensing agencies, and we are currently developing our first bag collection for Spring '14. Words cannot describe how over the moon excited we are - we are offering luxury aesthetics at an affordable price point. Tina and I have had the best time of our lives going through the rigorous design process to ensure no detail is overlooked and that each and every original design from stitch, hardware, lining, label, packaging and even the dust bag (which is amazingly cute and revolutionary) meet our very snobby criteria. And because of the incredible people we are working with, we are able to retail everything for under $100, and the trolley suitcase for $130.
I'm not going to say this hasn't been done before, everything has been done but there is a real need for thoughtful designs at this price point. We know from the 8 years of communications with our readers what women want and what they want is missing in the market place. We have always contended that good taste has nothing to do with money - you can't buy good taste AND you don't need to spend thousands in order to show your good taste. I'm pretty sure our readers will be floored by what we have to offer.