It's been a minute! Goddess Directory went on a little break while adult responsibilities took priority (boo!), but we're back and more ready to share some kick-ass business owners than ever! It just happens that we get to restart this series with an incredible story and brand that has just enough pep to get me excited to do this again - Julie Mollo.
One look at the cheerful photos below and it's clear why Julie Mollo is enough to get me pumped about featuring her and restarting this series. In a time that feels so scary and bleak, Julie's products are a burst of energy and joy. I remember following along with her years ago while she was making reversible retro clothing (her Retroversible line) and thinking she was so smart to create such versatile products. I had no idea at the time just HOW smart of a businesswoman Julie was or that she was responsible for the fruit-themed costumes Katy Perry famously wore on tour that I had drooled over. That, of course, is an incredible story on its own.
In the years since I saved her clothing items on Pinterest, Julie has gone on turn her unexpected best-selling pieces into a line of their own, and she now is designing the most fun vinyl clutches you've ever seen. Not only are they a fun bit of personality to add to any outfit, they're also affordable, making them accessible to aspiring Katy Perry's everywhere. Her clutches on their own are impressive, but how her career journey has taken shape and how she's navigating the pandemic are even more so. Read on to see what I mean.
Q: Let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of starting your business? What made you want to do this and how did you turn your idea into a reality?
A: I had no intention of starting a business. I was a 20-year-old fashion design major at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 2008, back home for the summer in Grafton, MA between my sophomore and junior years of college. I was working 3 jobs and also designing and making a collection of clothing when my business started for me. I reached out to Katy Perry’s team over Myspace, sending them my website and letting them know who I was. I had never made clothing for anyone besides myself and my professors, but I had this weird feeling that Katy would love my clothing. She had just hit the scene with ‘I Kissed A Girl’ and was totally my style. After sending that email, her stylist emailed me that night and Katy emailed me the day after. I sent them a box of clothes for her to wear on the Vans Warped Tour and met with them a week later to design the iconic, fruit-inspired ensembles she would wear on the VMAs, Today Show, Leno, and so many more event, carpets and stages. Now, nearly 12 years later, I’ve taken those same shapes that I put all over Katy's (and other’s) frocks, sewn them on glittery clutches and sold them, affordably, all over the world. Almost 4 years and about 35,000 clutches later, here I am.
Q: Was there a moment when you felt like this was something that was going to take off and become a success for you?
A: There were a few moments- one for each stage of my business. The first obviously being when Katy wore my clothing, the second being when I had the idea for Retroversible, my retro-inspired reversible line of clothing I designed for 5 seasons between 2014-2016 (whole other story there). The third, and most lucrative, was at my first pop up shops when I was unable to keep my clutches in stock (like, made them all night, sold out of them the next day, lather rinse repeat for 6 months). They began as an add-on item I designed to go along with my clothing- I never intended on going into accessories- my customers chose that path for me, and looking at the full picture, I’m so glad I did. Accessories make perfect sense for me, my story, and my business!
Q: What were your friends and family’s reactions to you starting this as a career or a business? Were you nervous to share it?
A: Because my journey was so untraditional, m