My story entails the birth of a brand that was inspired and shaped by passion. I can honestly say, at this point, I am living my dream.
From a young age, I knew that I wanted to be a designer. My teachers knew me as the girl who colored leaves blue to match the sky. I saw anything and everything from an artistic perspective. What I didn’t know then was that my innate creativity would lead me to my successful design career.
I was always the girl who loved friends, humor, and having a lot of silly fun. I found my voice in art and drama- I was always able to cry on cue! As I continued my creative journey, I began to see myself in a new light, beginning with an experience I had on my first day of Freshman English class at Mary Baldwin College. It was a day of “Getting to know you’s” and my professor wanted to know our middle names. I almost fell through the floor since I had always been made fun of for mine!! You know how kids can be! I could feel myself blushing as I said, “It’s Lolita…” My professor, knowing that I was mortified, told me, “You should never be ashamed of that name! It is the most beautiful and timeless piece of 20th century classic literature. You should be very proud.” From that moment on I knew that I would use the name someday; and I did. I used it to create a lifestyle brand, targeted to women and men of every personality for every special moment. I have never looked back.
The beginning of my brand stems from just a normal girls’ night out! I was handed a pretty pink Cosmo in a naked glass. I saw potential in the clear glass. My imagination kicked in and I could see myself uniquely painting each glass to match the drink. I knew I could create a winning line out of this idea. It was a light bulb moment.
In the beginning, I started my business with just this light bulb moment! I was a stay at home mom at the time, after almost 10 years of work experience in the fashion industry, working for Christian Dior and Donna Karan. I also kept my creativity flowing by painting wall murals, while still toting my beautiful baby girls around everywhere! Those days were hard, but I kept my dream alive. I sat down and painted my first martini glass- The Cosmopolitan. I wanted the design to enhance the look and taste of the drink. Then came The Metropolitan, then more and more. I put drink recipes on the bottom of each glass to make them extra unique. I watched as each of my friends quickly picked a martini glass that fit their personality. Before I knew it, the glasses were becoming collectables and I started the hard work of manufacturing, marketing, and selling at national tradeshows.
However, success didn’t come easily, nor did it happen over night. Starting out, I painted the glasses myself in my basement and sold them to friends. I started with about 12 designs, sometimes working until 2 in the morning painting glasses over and over again. I was completely overwhelmed. The little money I made went right back into the business. It took up to 2 years to have a positive cash flow.
Accounts at small retail stores got me on my way while I was coming up with my own hand tags, pricing, wholesale sheets, order forms, and brochures. I was succeeding locally, so, I decided it was worth the investment of doing my first tradeshow in Atlanta in 2001. I broke even the first show, and for the second show I was thrilled to net $3,000. This allowed me to invest in shows in California, Dallas, and New York. This success brought me to my next task- licensing the line.
Once I became licensed in 2004, my life changed. I went from having a half a million dollar business to a million and a half dollar business in only a year. By 2008, I had sold $24 million dollars in retail sales. After getting licensed I also realized I needed some serious help when I got an order for 1,200 glasses! The first 200 were easy, but I thought to myself, “How am I going to do 1,000 more?” I now have several extremely talented artists helping me design the glasses. We are constantly coming up with new designs. It’s a very exciting, creative atmosphere.
I have realized it is a 10 second world- you have but 10 seconds to say everything about yourself and your products. I have to understand my consumer in order for my line to be successful. I still know that each design I create is as unique as the person buying it. That philosophy has worked and I take pride in knowing how unique each design is. Now my products are in over 6,000 stores in the US and 10,000 stores worldwide. I also have 5 manufacturers in 23 countries for a variety of products, so I’d say the hard work has definitely paid off! Looking back on my early story, it was not easy, but it was certainly worth it.
Humor and whimsy are reflected in each of my designs. We create each design with a certain personality in mind. I know my fans! You are my friends. And from my work, well, you know me too!
Cheers to all my wonderful fans!!