Today I’m bringing back the Wonder Woman Wednesday series where we peep in to the lives of some of the most fashionable female entrepreneurs. The petite, power-houses behind Adela Mei inspired the resurrection of the series after I fell in love with their shop, Adela Mei and the perfectly curated, petite pieces I discovered there. (See my favorite AM discoveries here and here). Read on to see what they have to say about starting your own business, wearing riding clothes to work and the best way to eat avocado toast.
You ladies started Adela Mei because the two of you needed more options for petite clothes. Can you tell us about the moment you realized AM was your destiny?
Stacy: I have always been passionate about online shopping in general. The internet made it so easy to buy technology, food, and cosmetics 24/7. It was just about finding an easier way to buy clothing that would fit. Sasha and I both loved to shop online but it was a constant guessing game on how an item would look or fit and something need to be done. (Granted if I was model height and size then it might not be such a big issue)
Sasha: I’m an online shopper through and through, I barely ever shop in stores anymore. But one of my constant sources of frustration was things not fitting. From way-taller-than-me models to a lack of information about fit, it was just not the easiest landscape to navigate. I’ve tried all the fit tech online, but I thought there had to be a simpler, almost more analog way to address the issue. One day Stacy and I were talking about it (over lunch, as usual – we love to eat!) and I realized that I wasn’t the only with the problem and we kind of went from there!
What would be some advice for women (or men) that would one day want to run their own business?
Stacy: My biggest advice to anyone is the only way to be lucky is to make opportunities for luck to happen. Nothing gets done if all you do is think about it.
Sasha: Honestly, just go for it. The biggest thing holding me back from being an entrepreneur was myself. Of course you don’t just jump into something blindly, but know that you’re not going to have every single answer and solution to everything before you start. Heck, you might even fail, but you can always get up, dust yourself off, and try again. It’s a crazy nerve-wracking guessing game half the time, but it’s a wonderful learning experience and worth every second!
Are there any other business women (or men) that you really admire?
Stacy: I come from a family of entrepreneurs and just watching my parents growing up has taught me that it takes passion, hard work, creativity, and persistence to grow a business. (Also a dash of luck to cease the right opportunities)
Sasha: I admire and respect pretty much anyone who has had the guts to start their own business, from the multi-millionaire to the small mom and pop store. I love reading about other people’s stories and their advice. Everyone’s experience and strategy is different and they all have something valuable to contribute.
Introvert or extrovert? Are you similarly minded? How do you each break up your day-to-day responsibilities to accommodate your different styles?
Stacy: I am an introvert. Most people who meet me know that I am quiet and attentive. Whether it is work or play I like to observe, listen, and process. For me, all life experiences have some form of transferable knowledge. I extract what I think makes the most sense to create elaborate plans and figure out ways for us to execute as a small business.
I love hearing from customers, online shoppers, bloggers and other small businesses. I am curious what people are thinking and why they do the things they do. I think these two traits alone explain why I focus on the nitty gritty details of the operations, marketing, sales and customer service.
Sasha: I’m an anti-social extrovert, if that makes any sense. I’m really bubbly and chatty, but it takes quite a bit of convincing for me to get up and put myself out there. I’m very content to stay in and peruse Pinterest or Fashion sites all day for inspiration. Stacy is generally the one that gives me that much-needed push, whether it’s meeting people for lunch or attending events. Our roles are divided in a way that matches our personalities. While we both give input on what the other person does, I handle most creative things whereas Stacy focuses more on behind-the-scenes operations and marketing, she’s great at communicating with customers and people we work with! If I was in charge of that you’d probably never hear from me.
What’s one thing about the fashion industry that you know now, that you wish you knew then?
Stacy: There are tons of amazing brands from all over the world but it’s surprising how challenging it is to find the right brands with the right look and the right fit.
At Adela Mei, we try and measure every piece of clothing. It’s important that we know every piece we stock. Our goal is to break the rules of petite fashion and offer a curated collection each season that accommodates various body types. This makes our curation process much longer than one would imagine but at the same time it makes our relationships stronger with the vendors and our customers.
Sasha: Striking the right balance between design, price, and fit is actually really difficult. We have a certain idea of what we want in our heads, but finding it when we want it, at a price point we think is reasonable is tougher than you’d think! It’s like having Dom Perignon taste on a Prosecco budget. We agonize over every single piece that makes it on the site – our curation process takes weeks and has multiple iterations.
Now onto fashion. What do you typically wear to work? What is your uniform on the weekend?
Stacy: I’d say I am more drawn to comfortable classic pieces that have a subtle twist or detail. I like the occasional pop of color. My work and weekend wear is the same for the most part. My current obsessions are midi skirts with either a wedge or ballet flats.
Sasha: For every day work where the only person I’m seeing is Stacy, I’m very dressed down. Many times she has to suffer through me wearing my horseback riding gear after a ride, or a dog hair covered workout outfit – really cute. But on days where I’ve got to be presentable, I love dressing up and put on something fun from our AM assortment mixed in with the designer pieces from my closet.
What about the items that you wear the most, that you’ve gotten the best “cost per wear” out of?
Stacy: That would be my navy burberry trench. It’s the rain trench with a hood so not the super classic one. I love it because it matches mostly everything and has survived a decade of wear.
In terms of from our AM collection, it would be the Shades of Grey Mesh Trim Tank (similar here). It’s incredibly soft and the racerback shape is very flattering on me. I love to layer it with different tanks or layers. No joke, I have worn it at least once a week if not more for the past year. I love it so much that I have two which doesn’t sound too crazy but one is a S and one is a M to give me maximum flexibility on how I want to layer it.
Sasha: Recently, the MLM Ziggy dress that we stocked in Fall has gotten the most wear out of everything I own. Ever since we’ve gotten it, I wear it at least once a week regardless of where I am. For example, I wore it in Brazil as a beach dress, and layered over leather leggings in New York over winter. It is quite honestly the best thing ever and I might have to get it in black if someone doesn’t beat me to it.
Okay time to play favorites. What piece from your s/s collection are you loving the most?
Stacy: I love this skirt, the fit and flare flatters my pear-shaped body. The midi length makes move around comfortably and still maintain a posed feminine look. Please note: this skirt also has pockets!!
Sasha: Our Kimono dress from 7115 is my hands down favorite of the season. The material is incredibly soft and the pleats and drapes are so dramatic, the dress never feels boring! I envision myself wearing it every day this spring and summer!
Name one item every woman should have in her closet…
Stacy: A piece of clothing that makes you feel 110%. That means excellent fit and quality. The more of these types of pieces the better! For me, it is a semi-fitted short black cashmere cardigan with gold buttons. It is warm, comfortable, and flattering. Cardigans are not for everyone so please don’t run off to get one just because it’s my prized piece. Finding a few piece that fits your body well and make you feel good is better than a walk-in-closet filled with mediocre fitting pieces.
Here is my tip on finding the 110% piece, if you look in the mirror and think “man, I look good and I could wear this everyday” then it’s worth purchasing. If you wear it out and someone (who is not the sales lady) gives you a compliment then you got yourself a keeper.
Sasha: Just one? Eeks, did I mention I’m indecisive? Well, aside from a fab LBD and that statement piece that makes you feel like a million bucks, a pair of great jeans is probably the number one thing a woman should have in her closet. For me, it’s Rag & Bone skinny jeans. When I’m having one of those days when nothing is working, or I just need to jet, I can pull them on and not have to worry and feel great at the same time.
I wish I purchased the…
Stacy: The Givenchy Pandora Bag- which I bought and then later returned because I couldn’t justify the purchase. To this day even my husband questions why I returned the bag. It is the bag I compare to all my other bag purchases. The distressed camel-ish color is no longer available so now whenever I visit the stores and see the bag, I still can’t help going over and touch the collection.
Sasha: Omg, there are so many. But I’m still mourning the loss of a grey v-neck Dries Van Noten sweater that I found at Nordstrom Rack. It was pricey, but it fit so well and was the perfect oversized sweater. I’ve since tried to replicate its greatness to no avail. I’ve also gone back to that Rack in the hopes it’ll magically appear one of these days. No luck yet, but I’m not giving up hope.
I’m thinking about food a lot since I’m in my second trimester. What’s the one thing you can’t stop eating or drinking right now?
Stacy: I would say something healthy but then I’d be lying to myself and the audience. Currently, I can’t get enough of super sour gummies from Marks & Spencers. They have just enough tart to make your lips pucker. I make my friends bring them back from London and Hong Kong. My husband and I are currently on our last bag (that’s right! for the record I am a generous gal because I share them with my man). I’ll be going Hong Kong soon so I’ll probably come back with a suitcase full.
Sasha: Avocado toast and Green Mangoes with shrimp paste – although not together! I’m an avocado toast fiend, I have it a few times a week and make it at home on Acme bread with a splash of lemon and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. I also recently found out that some of the Asian groceries (yay for being in the Bay Area) stock green mangoes, which are usually hard to find and one of my favorite foods from back home (the Philippines!). The tangy sourness from the mangoes paired with the sweet-salty from the shrimp paste is delightful, although an acquired taste to most. So yummy!
Happy 1st Birthday, Adela Mei!