Full Name: Elona Appleby
Current Title/Company: Founder/Designer of the brand James Carletons.
Educational Background: Accounting
It’s so nice to meet you, Elona. Please tell our readers, what was your first job and how did you land that position?
Estee Lauder Beauty Consultant. Walked in and got hired on the spot.
How have your designs evolved since your first sketch?
My first sketches of shoes were very sexy, very high heel shoes. I have learned that a shoe can be just as sexy with a lower heel.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your career and how were you able to overcome them?
The biggest challenge in launching this brand has been the fact that it is really hard to get the attention of editors and buyers to look outside the circle of covering the same designer season after season. However, if your product is in stores, even if it is only a few of them, and it is selling its only a matter of time before your little steps turn into leaps.
We want to hear about your inspiration as a creative! Where does your inspiration come from? Do you seek it out? How would you describe your design style?
I was born in this little town by the sea in the country of Albania called Saranda, and spend much of my summers on our family boat fishing the Mediterranean. At the age of 12 my family moved to Florida so you can see that the water is such a big part of who I am and what I love. Looking at my first collection you see a lot of Florida inspired designs and leathers.
How did you learn the ins and outs of owning and operating your brand?
Not having worked or interned for anyone before I decided to launch this brand definitely made it more challenging. However, being able to make and own every decision along the way without being influenced by outsiders has given me the ability to stay true to who I am and who I want to become as a designer.
As a business owner, how do you achieve a work/life balance?
This on is a toughie. When you love what you are doing it never really seems like work. You never stop thinking about it even at the dinner table your mind will think about something that has to do with work. However, being a wife and a mama of two I have learned that it is important to separate the two as much as you can.
What do you see in the future for your brand? How do you hope to grow the business?
When I think about James Carletons I see only growth. We have not even scratched the surface of what it will become. We hope to launch our ecommerce soon and hope to open our flagship store somewhere in south Florida.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Giving back. A big part of the creation of the brand was based on the idea of giving back. A percentage of all proceeds will go to orphanages in need around the world. My heart has always had a soft spot for children in need even before I had my own babies. There is no greater feeling in the world than being able to help someone in need. Nothing!
What is a typical workday like for you?
Emails, Emails, Emails
Best moment of your career so far?
Getting that very first sale from our store in Corona Del Mar in California.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t wait. Start NOW!
Go-to coffee order?
I have one cup of coffee every morning. Starbucks house blend.
If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be and what would you order?
Angelina Jolie. I would love to hear all about her mission trips around the world and how they have impacted her as a human being. I would order a RUM RUNNER with Bahamian Conch salad or the fresh catch of the day.
Best advice you’ve received?
Find your purpose in this life and listen to your gut!
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
A woman that believes in the power of love.
The Nolcha Shows are a leading award winning event, held during New York Fashion Week, for independent fashion designers to showcase their collections to a global audience of press, retailers, stylists and industry influencers. Over the past seven years the Nolcha Shows have become established as a platform for discovery; promoting cutting edge innovative fashion designers through runway shows and exhibitions.
The team at Chic Galleria is thrilled to again be collaborating with the designers who will be featured at the Nolcha Shows. We are looking forward to showcasing these talented designers and attending their shows this fall. – Beth Anderson, Founder and Senior Editor, Chic Galleria