(NEW YORK) Have you met NIC+ZOE yet? We caught up with merchandising and marketing manager Zoë Chatfield-Taylor of Boston-based label NIC+ZOE to find out how she got lured into the family biz and what it’s like working under her mom, aka the brand’s creative director, Dorian Lightbown. As for Nick? He’s busy constructing igloos, but more on that later. Check out the family dynamic behind this booming 7-year-old booming brand, which sells at Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor and recently wrapped an ad campaign shot by Mario Sorrenti featuring Arizona Muse.
BY PAIGE REDDINGER
How did your mom, Dorian, get into this industry?
She went to Pratt and RISD, and has been designing her whole life. She started working for other people like Mast Industries, which became The Limited. She was actually one of the first people to be a part of the whole mass production for that movement of stores. She worked for Sigrid Olsen for 17 years, where she was the knitwear designer. She always wanted to start her own business and after a family tragedy it was like, “well, life is short and if I want to do this, I should do it, because anything can change tomorrow.” So she started NIC+ZOE and named it after my brother and me.
Is your brother also in the family biz?
Nick is an artist. He lives in Brooklyn and is currently into building igloos. He makes them out of things like speakers and wooden crates. He also makes music videos.
What did you go to school for?
I was too close to the business to think I’d ever want to do that. I grew up with my mom working a million hours her whole life. I went to the University of Connecticut for a year; I absolutely hated it. Then I went to FIDM in L.A. and I studied merchandising, marketing, and business management. So now I do merchandising for the company.
What’s it like working with your mom?
I love it! We’re friends. Someone in our office recently told me I speak so professionally to my mom. I don’t even notice! But I did go through the whole phase of wondering what I should call her in the office. When she’s walking by me and I’m trying to get her attention, I’m like, “Dorian!” Because if I’m writing an email to someone and I say, “I spoke with my mom,” it’s kind of weird.
Do you give your mom any input on the design?
That’s the other thing about our relationship: I speak honestly to her. She’s everyone else’s boss, but I definitely give my opinion and will say, “oh no, that’s not good!” but other people have to tread more lightly around the subject. Since I work on merchandising and we have such a full collection there has to be guidance there. I look at the sell-through and think about our needs as a business and then input that with design and trends that are going on so we work closely to get to the end result.
So she’s listens to you if you don’t love a piece?
[Laughs] I think she does! But she’ll stick up for things, too.
Do you think you’ll ever design your own line?
I’m not a designer. I know there are a lot of people out there with lines who aren’t designers, but they shouldn’t be [designing]. Growing up watching my mom, I’m always like, “you’ve been doing this for so long and you keep thinking of new things?” It’s amazing! I don’t know how she keeps doing it.
What are your favorite magazines?
I like the accessibility of a magazine like Lucky. But on the higher end, I like to read Harper’s Bazaar.
Do you travel a lot?
I’m here in New York a lot for our events, like our recent launch at Lord & Taylor. I also do a lot of personal appearances at Nordstrom’s, and I usually go to at least one show during market.
Which trade shows do you attend?
We have shows all around the country. Besides Coterie and Magic, which are our biggest shows, we have the regional ones like Stylemax in Chicago, Dallas, and Denver. We go everywhere. It’s nice working with the specialty store accounts where we can get feedback from them. I’m traveling at least once a month. Our trip to Europe was the first time I traveled with my mom for an inspiration trip. We were looking for new colors and shapes.
What is your favorite city to travel to?
I love L.A. and still have family and friends there, since I used to live in Venice. I like to stop by all my old restaurants and shops. I love going to A+R. It’s the perfect store to find something for someone who has everything. My favorite restaurants are Siamese Garden, The Library Bar, AXE, and Wabi-Sabi.
Do you outfit your friends in NIC+ZOE?
I try! It’s kind of like what we are doing with our marketing campaign, because they have a vision of what our line is and think that it might be for someone slightly older and then they’ll see me wearing it and be like, “oh my god, I love that!” and it’s NIC+ZOE. My mom and I will show up at the office in the same thing, but we’ll wear it differently so it’s perfect for everyone.