Heather Hubbard always had an eye for design and a love for the fashion industry, so it is really no surprise that in 2014 she launched her very own line. Hubbard first got her foot in the door by landing an internship at Ingénue Magazine and sure enough moved her way up to fashion editor. From there, Hubbard ventured into the retail side of the industry working as a planner for one of L.A.’s trendiest boutiques. In 2006 though, Hubbard left L.A. behind to begin a new chapter of her career as an in-house stylist for Vera Wang in New York City.
With vast fashion experience under her belt, Hubbard decided to design her own line called MR. handbags. The concept behind the brand is attainable luxury goods that are still focused on providing a good quality product with expert craftsmanship and design- what could be better? And only a year after its launch, Hubbard was given the 'Emerging Designer of the Year Award' by the Accessories Council in November of 2015. Here, Hubbard gives us a behind the scenes look into her career in fashion and her best advice for Making it in Manhattan.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?
I knew instinctively from a young age, I feel lucky in that way. From childhood fashion was just a part of who I was.
2. What college did you attend and what did you study?
I studied at the Art Institute of Seattle where I earned a BA in Fashion Marketing & Business. I have always been a creative at heart but I felt it was important to understand the business side of fashion before diving in as a Designer.
3. When did you land your first internship and where was it?
My first internship was for a small L.A. based publication called Ingénue magazine. It was a very creative and entrepreneurial atmosphere where I was able to gain experience that would not have been offered to me with large company. In my first week I was working with the industries top photographers, stylists, and creative teams on a daily basis. This is where I fell in love with the creative teams that conceptualize an idea and then turn it into something real.
4. What was the most valuable thing you learned from your first internship?
I learned to trust my instincts and pay attention to the details, however small.
5. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone about to begin a summer internship?
An internship should be an experience that helps you get to that next level of your career. That was definitely the case for me. Be willing to work hard, pay attention to detail, and try to exceed in every task given. I always recognize someone who going above and beyond and will give them opportunities to become more involved and grow.
6. Who have been your biggest mentors in this industry and what is the best advice they have ever given you?
I have not had a singular mentor. Its more of a trusted group of colleagues and friends that I have gained throughout my experience. Fashion can be a sink or swim environment which is what I was presented. So I swam and came across some amazing opportunities and friends along the way.
7. What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?
Not having a mentor. It’s so important to have someone to guide you in the early stages of your career vs. figuring it out as you go which is what I did.
8. What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?
After my internship ended with Ingénue magazine, I was hired on as an Associate Fashion Editor. A year later I was promoted to the Sitting’s Editor. Simultaneously I took a position with a small L.A. boutique chain as the Retail Planner/Manager.
9. What did you wear to your first interview?
I’m going to jump ahead to one of my all time favorite interviews. It was my first interview in NYC with Vera Wang. I wore a vintage black and white stripe blouse with an oversized 70’s style tied bow at the neck and a black YSL pencil skirt and pumps. 10 years later, that outfit still makes me smile.
10. What is one thing you look for when interviewing a potential candidate to work for you?
Confidence, personal style, and intelligence.
11. If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
Be more punctual! Maybe then I wouldn’t always be 15 minutes late now. It’s a terrible quality.
12. The fashion industry has changed so much in the past few years, what’s the best advice you would give for staying ahead of the curve?
For MR., relationships, quality, and an attainable price point have helped us secure a place in this new world of fashion. It’s so important to know your audience. Our customer is much more educated on quality and less frivolous in spending money on material things. Which is why our brand concept is Attainable Luxury.
13. Tell us what inspired you to start MR. Handbags and what makes it different from other bag companies out there?
My intention with MR. was to create a product that matched the quality of luxury brands in material and craftsmanship, while manufacturing in NYC, and maintaining a price point that women could actually afford. Hence our concept of Attainable Luxury. These elements make us completing unique in very saturated market.
14. What is your favorite part of running your own company? What is the biggest challenge you face running your own company?
There is nothing greater than being your own boss and doing what you love. However, my biggest challenge is time management. There are never enough hours in the day and I am often working late hours. When it’s yours, it’s hard to find a separation of work/life balance.
15. What advice would you give to some hoping to start their own company?
Make sure you have the proper investments/partners in place and do what you love because there is no shutting off when the business is your own and you will have to make a lot of personal sacrifices to succeed. If I did not love what I do, I would be exhausted all of the time. What keeps me going is knowing that I get to wake up every day and do what I love.