The JessicaSimien.com “She’s A Boss” series is all about women in leadership positions. Women are not celebrated enough for their amazing and one-of-a-kind accomplishments. We’re using our platform to shine light on some very talented and intelligent ladies working toward (and realizing) their dreams. Not only will you have an opportunity to learn about them, you will also get to learn from them as they share their business advice and pointers on how to maintain balance.
New York City resident, Erin Carpenter, is the brain behind Nude Barre, a company dedicated to helping women feel comfortable in their undergarments. Check out our interview with the 29-year-old boss as she shares her path to leadership and gives advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: When did you have that “Aha moment” as and when you knew that you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
Erin Carpenter: I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur since my early high school days. In high school and during my freshman year of college, I sold Mary Kay. I have always been a creative person but I enjoy building and creating things that are needed on the market, but are simple and practical.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What was your inspiration for creating your company, Nude Barre?
EC: My inspiration for creating Nude Barre was out of frustration. I truly have been fortunate to pursue my passions of performance arts and entertainment. As a teenager I trained with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Alvin Ailey. As a college student, I majored in Ballet and minored in Business at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. Finally as a young adult, I gained professional experience as a model, actor, and Knicks City Dancer. Ten years of experience in the entertainment industry has afforded me an acute understanding of the needs and demands that performers face throughout their careers. Interestingly, one reoccurring challenge was the need for proper undergarments. Two qualities that entertainers look for when purchasing products are transparency and skin color match. Of the two, certain brands offer transparency, while color matching remains in high demand.
In all stages of my dance career, I have experienced the hardships of not finding hosiery that matched my skin tone. We were required to wear nude undergarments as part of our uniform and therefore spent hours dying and spray painting tights and shoes as most hosiery brands did not produce the appropriate shade of nude. This too was a common complaint of the wardrobe departments of many castings and productions that I have been a part of. Sadly, the dying method was a luxury not often afforded to projects due to budget constraints and the laborious process. As a result, many women, of all races, were left feeling uncomfortable and unprepared to perform. This was the origin of Nude Barre in 2009.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Tell us a little more about your company and what products and services you offer.
EC: Nude Barre offers 16 different shades of color matching undergarments by utilizing the foundation makeup colors that women buy, addressing both customer concerns of transparency and color matching. Though the genesis of Nude Barre came from the entertainment world, I quickly learned during the seed and start-up stages of the company that my product was in high demand by all women and had applications not only for the stage, but also for everyday wear by business women, teachers, mothers, entrepreneurs, socialites, etc. Nude Barre sells fishnet tights, convertible opaque tights (can be worn footed or footless), crystallized tights and seamless thongs.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What challenges did you face as you began to work on the first steps of starting your company and how did you overcome them?
EC: Funding and manufacturing…There are new challenges everyday, but those were the main ones when starting up. I always do a lot of research. I spend a lot of time reading and trying products on my own so that I can make my products the best that they can be. I have also have business mentors that guide me when I feel stuck.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: In your opinion, what do women bring to the workplace that men don’t?
EC: Hmm…good question. Women tend more detail oriented. This is a key thing I look for when hiring. Helping our customers choose the right color requires a detailed oriented eye.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Do you have any advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
EC: Yes! Just start! You will always think of a million reasonS why you should wait until next year or five years from now. Being an entrepreneur is hard but it is all about problem solving. Even if you plan to the “T” something may not work out the way you planned because you are relying on other people as you run the business. So, figuring out how to maneuver through the hiccups is how you survive and a lot of that is creativity. We are all creative. Write a business plan but expect that things with change as you evolve. Next, is to maintain good credit. If borrowing money from family, friends, or a lender have a clear way that you plan to pay them back.
To connect with Erin or to view her selection of products, visit her online at www.nudebarre.com. You can also follow Nude Barre on Twitter and Instagram @nudebarre and like them on Facebook by clicking here.