When you think of Louisiana – strawberries, sugar cane, crawfish and Mardi Gras come to mind. Now, the designer duo behind Jolie and Elizabeth is giving women a new reason to adore Louisiana and love all things Southern.
Jolie and Elizabeth is the endearing brainchild of two hip, young New Orleans fashion designers—Jolie Bensen and Sarah Elizabeth Dewey. Drawing inspiration from the heart of the Deep South, over a pitcher of sweet tea and messy shrimp po boys, a brand was born.
These inspirational entrepreneurs are promoting a cause bigger than themselves by ultimately contributing to the rebuilding, revitalizing and redevelopment of New Orleans. The line has become known for its “Made in Louisiana” tags. Eighty percent of the line is manufactured in New Orleans. As savvy business owners, Bensen and Dewey realize the importance of local reinvestment and untapped resources to organically rebuild their local economy.
Company: Jolie and Elizabeth
Founder/Age: Jolie Bensen, 26 and Sarah Elizabeth Dewey, 23
Location: New Orleans, LA
Start-up Year: 2010
Start-up Costs: $8,000
How We Got Started: Our company literally started as an idea over lunch. From there, we knew the first thing we had to do was turn our vision into a business plan. Once we had a plan we had a few people close to us invest in our idea and our company. We knew there was a market for our product so from there we started designing, manufacturing, and selling, just us two, out of our office in New Orleans.
Best Success Story: We were recently featured on Daily Candy, an email newsletter we have both read for years. The day the article launched we had so many people, nationally and internationally, contact us about our line. They loved our clothes, the story behind them and our company as a whole. To have that many people from that many places respond so well to your product and your company is a dream come true. From that moment on, we really felt like we were sharing what we are doing here in the city we love, New Orleans, with the rest of the country and even the world.
Biggest Start-up Challenge: In New Orleans there is endless talent and no infrastructure, and there is no real fashion industry here. We were the first individuals to start a fashion company based in New Orleans and manufactured in Louisiana. It is always a challenge taking a risk and trying something for the first time; however, these are the challenges that are also the most rewarding.
#1 Tip for Newbies: Never second guess yourself or your ideas. If you believe in something and are willing to put all of your energy into making your idea succeed, then it will. And always take the time to laugh; there will be plenty of bumps in the road but humor helps you get through the ups and downs.
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