Avatar for Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Hello there!
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
How are you Marika?
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Malika
Hi. I'm looking forward to chatting tomorrow!
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Tuesday, April 16th 2019

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Avatar for Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Hi Malika!
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
How are you doing?
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Malika
Hi Melissa. Hi Kate. Welcome to the C Suite! I’m excited to talk to any leader who is making life easier for working moms and women in general.🙏💖💥
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Thank you! That’s exactly what we do!
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Malika
Yes! I need to hear all about it. Because it’s all a real challenge. 😂
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Malika
Also, welcome to Goodtalk. Hope your thumbs are ready.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Ready and willing!
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Thank you for having us!
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Malika
So I want to get into leadership, but start out telling me how you started Pirouette
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Ok, it’s the typical origins story of not finding what I and a lot of other women couldn’t find anywhere: day-to-night dresses for petites.
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Malika
My favorite things have all started from a lack!
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Necessity is the mother of invention! So I was always rushing to and from work, often missing out on spontaneous invites to meet up or go out after work bc I was dressed for the office, not for going out.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
And pretty much all my adult life I’ve had a hard time finding anything nice that fits well bc I’m only 5-feet-nothing, and most clothing companies don’t make petites.
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Malika
Well I love the dresses on pirouettenyc.com
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Malika
How have you seen your own leadership grow through this endeavor?
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Oh thank you!! They’re the product of much testing and trial and error!
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
I’ve seen my leadership grow in one main way: I’m now much less deferential. I make decisions much more quickly because I have to, because too many people are waiting for a response, a payment, a shipment...
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Malika
Don’t you wish we didn’t have to grow into that. I needed those skills years ago when I hadn’t developed them!!
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Exactly! I’m always thinking, God I would’ve saved myself so much time if I had just been more confident ages ago.
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Malika
Can you speak on developing confidence?
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Malika
Your pic on the website screams confidence. I love it.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Sure. I think it’s tougher for women of my generation to feel good about coming across as confident bc we were brought up to think that it makes us look conceited.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
A good amount of acting helps with coming across confident in pics!
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Malika
I know. But here you are putting yourself out there and promoting something you believe in.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Yes, and despite everything we’ve had to overcome to get to where we are today, I always go back to that initial, seemingly enormous obstacle: putting myself out there.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
I used to be super embarrassed to even say I had a start-up!
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Malika
I talk with a lot of female leaders about “dimming their light” and times they have done that. Sounds like you can identify with that.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
But once I started doing exactly that is when a path forward started to come into view; people started offering to help or to introduce me to someone who could help, who had the expertise that I lacked.
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Malika
The help and asking for help is a key here!
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Yes exactly! We’re programmed to dim our light and defer to others even when we’re sure we know more than the others in the room.
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Malika
Are you able to catch yourself now when you are downplaying your talents?
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Asking for help is absolutely necessary. There’s a great podcast by Elayne Fluker to help women get comfortable with asking for help. It’s called Support Is Sexy.
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Malika
I’m interested to see how leaders can evolve this? And how we can accelerate that process.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Yes I do catch myself bc I tend to go for self-deprecating humor since it helps people relate to one another and I’m overly self-critical.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Especially around my kids, bc I don’t want them to adopt that way of talking about themselves.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
I forgot to mention my co-founder / COO is unable to join us right now! Sorry about that!
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Malika
Yes! There are so many dynamics of being a leader in your family and as a professional.
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Malika
I just thought she was really quiet.
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Malika
Or shy
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
She’s neither!
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
She’s actually busy swimming with dolphins and her son at the moment!
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Should we check the messages from the public now?
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Malika
Amazing. What’s they dynamic like between the two of you as you build Pirouette?
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Question from Caitlin
I'm loving your POV on supporting one another as women. My question is: What are some of your other favorite female-founded / run companies (clothing or otherwise)?
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Our dynamic is really that of friends. We share ideas freely, relate to one another as busy working moms running a massive time deficit every single day bc we still have our day jobs, and are really hands-on with raising our kids, and yet are committed to pursuing this opportunity to help women make the most of every day.
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Malika
That sounds like a lot of caffeine. ☕️
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Question from Heather
I like this idea! I think it simplifies a women's closet and takes one extra thing off my plate. I don't have to walk around the city with my 'just in case' bag. I'm wondering, how do you plan to distinguish yourself from companies like Rent the Runway who are also diving into the work wardrobes? And do you have to take that into consideration or do you really just go out and push to build what you want/ believe in?
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
To answer Caitlin’s question re other female-owned or female-run companies I admire, I’d name MM Lafleur, Cuyana, and Sarah Flint (shoes).
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
And JBett PR.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
To answer Emily’s question, yes, we definitely have to take into consideration industry game-changers like Rent The Runway, Allume, Stitch Fix, et al when we design and market our pieces.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
And the way we do that is by being hyper-focused on quality. That’s what motivates us and makes our product stand out in a sea of disposable fast-fashion that’s not built to last. We’re helping the growing group of women who want to choose well instead of often.
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Malika
Yes! That will also resonate with those of us who want sustainable fashion and to mature our approach toward consuming.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
That said, we see an enormous opportunity to reach more of our target market through partnerships with RTR and companies like that bc of the brand discovery they provide for potential customers.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Exactly. And now that “single use” is becoming a negative phrase, while the Marie Kondo craze mainstreams, Pirouette is positioned to satisfy that desire / need for trend-free, sustainably made, high-quality pieces that offer inclusive sizing, all made in the USA.
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Malika
Have you had a mentor in all of this?
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Malika
How do you approach mentorship?
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
My initial mentor was Sarah LaFleur herself (founder and CEO of MMLafleur).
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Malika
That’s amazing!
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
She used to work w/ my husband so we were friends for a while before she started MM.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
I must own at least 4 of her original dresses! Some with labels that have the original name of the company: Mémé LaFleur 😊
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
So when she was first starting out I’d help bring friends to her trunk shows and promote her brand on social. And then attend all her NYC events, so all of that taught me a lot.
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Lately I’ve approached mentorship in a non-traditional, millennial sort of way, looking to other founders I read about or listen to on podcasts as “mentors.”
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
It’s been utterly invaluable to be able to learn from other women entrepreneurs on The Glossy podcast, on GirlBoss, Support Is Sexy, Loose Threads, and Well Made.
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Malika
You have been so real and authentic today. Thank you. What final thoughts can you share with others aspiring to develop as a leader?
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
You’re welcome! For final thoughts I would just say that there’s always going to be a small mountain of obstacles in the way of starting a new business, the timing is never perfect, but try it any way. Talk to friends and strangers about it, see how it would play out in their lives and how that real-world insight helps refine your idea or thesis. And then go for it!
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Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
As you pursue your idea, your leadership skills grow and sharpen.
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Malika
I can’t wait to see these dresses everywhere.
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Malika
This is Malika Begin signing out, you can find me at begin-development.com. And you can find Melissa and Kate changing the world at pirouettenyc.com
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Avatar for Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
Thank you Malika!
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#TheCSuite

Leadership development specialist, Malika Begin texts with the CEOs of Pirouette NYC.

participants

  • Avatar for Melissa Lorenzo-Hervé
    CEO of http://PirouetteNYC.com
  • Avatar for Malika
    Owner of Begin Development where she works with executives to maximize their leadership pipeline, invest in th...
  • Avatar for Kate
    COO of http://PirouetteNYC.com
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