Meet & Greet with Tiffany Langlinais (the Brains of Freret & Napoleon)
Meet Tiffany, the brains (a.k.a the founder and CEO) behind the beauty of Freret & Napoleon.
1. Describe your brand in 3 words. Explain.-Adaptable: For the ever-evolving idea of the "new" New Orleans.- Fearless: For the do-whatcha-wanna attitude.- Babe (I know this is a noun but...): F&N is for all the females out there, be it loud or more subtle, to be the metaphor in representing the sand grain in an oyster shell growing to a beautiful pearl.
2. What are some of your best tips for other young, creative, female entrepreneurs ?
I always seem to be out of business cards. And it always happens at the most inopportune moment! "Yeah, let me get my...(searches through purse and wallet)...oops, I ran out." One tip I learned from a fellow female entrepreneur is to create a contact profile on your phone, fill it with all the important information (your brand logo as your profile photo or a photo of yourself, phone number, email address, website, social media accounts, etc.). Then, you're never without! Now, you'll be able to push your contact information immediately to any smart phone or email address.
As much as you think that you're talking about yourself too much, don't stop. Most people won't ever find out about what your business/brand is without you fully supporting it 110% of the time. You may feel like you're bragging, but shake that off, and realize that it's all a part of the business. You're a walking billboard and if you live, breathe, and, especially, in my case, wear your jewelry, people will notice and want to hear more about it and invest their time in you.
Niceties aside, when you want to work with someone and it's your first time meeting him or her (by chance or appointment), don't hesitate to tell them that. BUT, immediately after telling them that, don't forget you should have a formulated plan or proposal for your collaboration. No one has time for someone who wants to work with his or her business but doesn't have anything to offer besides enthusiasm.3. What made you decide to start F&N? What were the first few days/weeks/months of this adventure like?
F&N came about right when I moved to New Orleans about two years ago. It became what I needed in life, a creative means of expression--something that had a nostalgic feel in ode to my Mississippi roots and new pride in NOLA. I've always been one to keep busy but it never meant much without a purpose. I wanted something that would literally make me jump out of bed in the morning and wake up in the middle of the night to jot down ideas because I couldn't keep them all in my head. I wanted to do something solely for myself despite my background in non-profit work.
My F&N brand materialized as I prepared for the 2014 New Orleans Fashion Week. The month leading up to it, I'm almost surprised I didn't die from exhaustion from sewing until 3 AM every morning or blood loss from my sewing machine (teaching myself how to sew was definitely a task). But the sheer thrill of embarking on a new adventure was enough to keep me going. I learned a lot by trial and error and discovered that, yes, you can live off of fast food, because who has time to cook when you're building a lifestyle brand?
I relive the start of F&N a good bit in my head and try to hold onto the freshness of it all. I don't remember many details but I can't forget how I felt, and that's all I need to know. I'm doing what's right for me. My advice to anyone starting a new chapter in his or her life, is to keep a journal to write down a few things daily or when he or she can, because reading it a year later is such a therapeutic experience and a reminder of why you started.4. What is your biggest failure as a designer/entrepreneur? What did you learn from this? How can others use these lessons as a tool in branding and business?My biggest and continual failure as an entrepreneur is attempting to manage all aspects of my company. I learn from it everyday, in that I'm not made to perform all roles in F&N. You have to remember that spreading yourself so thin results in your strengths not being highlighted as they should. I'm always learning more and more about myself as a boss and designer through this. Passing on responsibilities for me is almost like handing off the Olympic torch. You have to trust that your team will do what needs to be done. They'll never learn if you don't give them the driver's seat and take a few turns as a passenger.
Know that when you ask for help, it is not a sign of weakness; something I've had to come to terms with. This past New Orleans Fashion Week, I realized I had left half of my 2015 collection at my studio. It was one hour to the runway, but my team dropped everything mid-motion backstage and ran to get it right in time, without complaint. Treating your team like family and taking care of them creates a sense of ownership in your brand, because they are truly invested in your vision and hold it dear.
Many business owners make the mistake of employing people that are competent, yet not personally invested, and this truly makes a difference in the team dynamic. Keep in mind that your team is the backbone to your brand and, even, are one of the many faces to your business. I'm so fortunate to have such a great F&N Team. They tackle different parts of the running of the brand while giving their own distinctive flavor. But it took a very long time for me to start relinquishing control--something I still practice daily.
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Shop Freret & Napoleon
Model Emelie Adele. Photography by Becky Vu. Styled by Tiffany Langlinais.
F&N necklace + tee.
Model Anushka Qizilbash. Photography by Becky Vu. Styled by Jill Heller.
F&N jewelry + swimsuit.
Model Emelie Adele. Photography by Becky Vu. Styled by Tiffany Langlinais. F&N jewelry + tee + bracelet.