The EMPRESS of life- Colleen Coughlin
I meet Colleen at the Czardom business networking in Miami Beach last year and it instantly clicked between us. Colleen is a kind, intelligent, down to earth person and a fashion loving activist. Carrying for the ecology and also clothing repurpose. She’s a real person, sensitive on beauty and nature. She really impressed me as well with her outstanding experience, designing for such brands as Victoria’s Secret PINK, the NBA, StartUpFashion.
She is truly the Empress of life. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Buffalonian, New Yorker currently residing in Miami. Graduated Magna Cum Laude from The Fashion Institute of Technology with a dual degree in Apparel Design and Textile & Surface Design, also holds a Professional Certificate in Sustainable Design Entrepreneurship. Board Member of DebrisFreeOceans.org where I am the Eco-Fashion Coordinator.
I’ve designed for Victoria’s Secret PINK, the NBA, StartUpFashion and currently am Senior Designer at the luxury resort wear brand, Sea Lily. I most recently participate in a Global Fashion Battle in Poznan, Poland where my team and I merged Fashion + Tech to create a working business solution in less than 54 hours.
Your company THE FULL EDIT is helping to organize, purge, style and repurpose your clients wardrobe. I think the idea is super! Please, tell us more about it and what or who inspired you to follow this path?
Growing up with Depression Era grandparents and equally resourceful parents (my dad has or made a tool for it all and can fix ANYTHING) I learned that an item’s value is dependent on how resourceful the person holding it see’s it, not the price tag on it. Most of America has a “throw-away” or “single-use” mentality.
People discard a halter dress that can be made into a skirt or a white denim jacket with a tiny spot that just needs a dab of white paint. You can create value when you find quality and use a little elbow grease and creativity.
There are 11.1 tons of fabric discarded by Americans/year. I want to help reduce that number through educating people to “buy less, choose well”.
Tell us a bit about Fen Shui. What kind o advice you would give us to live in harmony?
Time is our most precious commodity and everything has energy (including memories). When you’re holding onto whatever “X” is, it’s a reminder of that time or event. Unless it’s a fond memory, each time you pass over that item in you home/closet you’re spending time on it. When you let things go, you make space for anew. To me that’s exciting!
What is the biggest obstacle in your business?
Getting over my fear of failing.
What’s your thought about Miami fashion?
It’s luxurious, bright and more skin barring.….women have more confidence in their bodies in all shapes and sizes down here, it’s encouraging to see.
Any documentaries, interview you have to recommend about slow and repurpose fashion?
As a proponent for sustainable design and teaching people about what fast fashion does to both to our economy, environment and mindset, I always recommend the documentary “The True Cost”.
You worked for Victoria’s Secret for five years. Can you tell us a bit about it and the biggest lesson you have learned from that experience?
Naming conventions for your files are KEY for implementing project rollouts to cross-functional partners. You need a digital “language” that everyone on board speaks.
While at VS PINK I designed bras, panties, underwear, accessories, you name it. While developing these items there were many samples, fabrics or findings that were thrown out during our annual 2 day cleaning event. I saw SO many uses for these buttons and fabrics that I suggested donating them or having a day where we use all the items to create something new. My idea fell on deaf ears so I decided to take it to a place where I could have impact, which was in teaching people how to “”buy less, choose well” and reduce the need for fast fashion through efucation
How would you define your personal style?
Original, always with a POP of color. I love bright prints and statement necklaces, especially if they have a story or are handmade.
What’s your favorite piece of clothing/ accessory, that makes you feel amazing?
Metallic, long triangle earrings with cutout geo shapes. They add personal style to whatever I rock them with. Always my fav, except on windy days where they become weapons to my jugular lol.
You are New Yorker. How would you define the New Yorkers (women) fashion style?
Depends on what area of NYC you’re in but I will say I hope NYC will always have a place where expression, exploration and uninhibited style is welcomed (unless we’re talking CROCS. The only place they belong in NYC are in kitchens).
What Colleen does in free time?
Lot’s of Bikram yoga, reading and meditating. I’m also part of the DebrisFreeOceans team organizing a sustainable fashion show to be held at the 1hotel in Miami this coming September. All designs will be repurposed, make from recycled materials or with ocean conservation inmind.
Who or what gives you strength?
Listening to any of Brene Brown’s talks or books on Audible remind me the importance of being vulnerable even when it’s uncomfortable and living wholeheartedly.
Any dreams, plans for the future?
Find a partner that supports me and my business growth. Grown the closet editing business and inspire people to be more mindful of what they buy. Your choices are the currency big retailers listen to.
What woman inspires you? There is any you would like to meet?
Vivienne Westwood, Piera founder of Refinery29. They’re both bad-asses.
What women would you recommend for that interview?
Caiti Pomerance, Co-Founder of DebrisFreeOceans.org and solid proponent of plastic free living.
“buy less, choose well”.
You are amazing and true inspiration, thank you for your time, with love,
web- The Full Edit in construction, coming soon!