Janel Molton is a stylist and entrepreneur who grew up in Montclair, New Jersey and received her requisite undergraduate degrees in LA (a BA in Art History from USC, an internship at W and vintage Hollywood shopping sprees). After graduation, Molton returned to the east coast to settle in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. While working in fashion PR at Bismarck Phillips in Manhattan, she was able learn about the profession from the front lines, while continuing to cultivate her own growing clientele as a personal stylist. Molton quickly discovered that the city boasting one of the world's most renowned fashion markets lacked the reasonably priced quality vintage to which she had become accustomed in Los Angeles. Molton decided to open her closet to the public and launched Relic NY, a virtual storefront, in 2009.
The online boutique offers couture goods by top tier and avant-garde designers from the era encompassing the past twenty years. The meticulously edited and frequently updated collection features fashion houses such as Lanvin, Giorgio Armani, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Celine, Moschino, Catherine Malandrino, Derek Lam, Calvin Klein, Ports 1961 and Costume National.
In addition to the e-commerce site, Relic NY operates a New York showroom that allows shoppers to view, touch and try on merchandise under the experienced eye of Molton herself. Most significantly, Relic NY has provided Molton with ability to share passion for "new vintage" couture with others, while building ongoing relationships that drive her potential as a fashion magnate. In short, Janel Molton is building a brand for herself based on talent, ethic, and some well-placed PR. Her aptly-named venture provides more than just new vintage fare, it reminds browsers of the stories of Patricia Fields, Diane Von Furstenburg, and pre reality-TV Rachel Zoe, who trademarked their eye for truly flattering fashion when they, like Molton, dove in headfirst.
PR Couture caught up with the modern style industrialist to share her insight into building a business and a brand in the fashion industry. Follow Janel on Twitter @relicnyinc.
Tell us about the message behind RelicNY
JM: Relic NY is a highly edited collection of classics. I am extremely particular about the pieces I offer. They have to emulate a timeless style that will work for years to come. I would love to see it evolve into a bigger enterprise that includes a men’s section as well as one day our own collection. Everyone (whether they’re a celebrity or an average woman) wants to find a bargain. The entire message of Relic is that anyone can dress in pricey designer duds. Relic offers those pieces to woman of all budgets!
What are your goals for RelicNY - long term and in the near future?
JM: Right now I’m focused on building my inventory! Also, I would love to do more trunk shoes and personal shopping and styling. Ultimately I would love to have a storefront that truly personifies RelicNY's refined taste.
What is your communications strategy? How do you plan on evolving the message as RelicNY progresses?
JM: I used to do PR [at Bismarck Phillips] so I have been utilizing those contacts to reach out to a broader audience. As Relic progresses it is extremely important to develop the message while keeping to the founding values of the website.
You have worked with a variety of clients through your e-commerce boutique and as a personal stylist. How do you tailor your approach to each client, each different budget and unique set of fashion needs?
JM: I LOVE working with people. In terms of style and budget, each customer is different. However in the end, everybody wants to feel beautiful. I do not know one woman (including celebrities) who does not have insecurities about themselves. Many of these anxieties are swathed in years of unflattering clothing choices. In the end, the most important thing is for my clients to feel beautiful, each in their own way.
In addition to your education at USC and your experience as a stylist and entrepreneur, you have also worked at Bismarck Phillips, an international communications agency. What are the most important lessons you learned about fashion PR from each experience?
JM: The importance of PR to a successful business! I have seen firsthand the power of successful outreach. For example. two weeks after we launched and landed on Daily Candy our unique visitors went from 100 to 10,000 in one day!
There are challenges that come with running your own business in any industry, at any age. What challenges have you overcome since you founded RelicNY? Have you ever found your relative youth to be a challenge?
JM: There is a new challenge every day! Whether it is in accounting, shipping or even Photoshop, I have learned more in one year [of running my own company] than I ever thought I could have. I tend to leave my age ambiguous due to the face that I have always encountered “age-ism”. In the end, your accomplishments are what matter and truly shine through.
What advice do you have for others trying to enter the fashion industry as a stylist or publicist?
JM: Intern, intern, intern! I have gained my most valuable lessons and insight from my experience as an intern at W, WWD & Harper’s Bazaar.
What fashion publications/blogs do you keep up with regularly?
JM: ALL of them! I have always and will always be the biggest magazine nerd. Ask Jessie, my best friend. I go to her apartment to see her and wind up antisocial reading a magazine on the couch.
If you could handpick 3 clients, who would they be?
JM: I would take on 3 very different challenges: Carey Mulligan because she is a fresh face of incredible talent and has a blank slate style wise. Carla Bruni because she is stunning and the only political wife who could and would pull off anything. Britney Spears because her closet needs a revolution.
Contributed by Erna Adelson, San Diego based citizen fashion journalist and communications professional. You can read more by Erna at Examiner.com