Harriette Cole, Life Stylist

It’s not everyday that you get to meet someone who has inspired you through their writing.  So I was excited to meet lifestyle expert and author, Harriette Cole, at the Blogalicious conference in Las Vegas.  She is a best-selling author, coach, life stylist, and now, fashion designer.  Cole was gracious enough to sit down for an interview and discuss her career, reinvention, and the importance of relationships.

RDD: You have such an eclectic mix of expertise.  Many people have several talents and aren’t sure how to harness those passions into a career.  Do you have any advice for them?

HC:  I was always interested in fashion and writing.  My dream was to figure out how to turn those two things into something that I would actually do.   I moved to New York to be a fashion writer and actually got a job as a lifestyle editor with Essence magazine.  Usually things don’t happen when you want them to.  You have to have patience. Often, you might have to do something that is not exactly what you want to do at first, but you can’t lose sight of your goal.

Having been a model as a teenager, I knew a lot about makeup, hair and styling.  So whenever I had the chance to interview people, I would style them.  I never gave up my passion for style.

RDD: How have you charted your career?

HC: I believe in dreaming.  I had a dream that I had a business.  In my dream I worked with magazines, had a column, hosted a radio show, and had written a number of books. I encourage people to dream and write it down.  If you have to have an awake dream that’s OK, too.  It was seven years after I’d started working at Essence that Susan Taylor invited me to run fashion.  So [it takes] patience.

There was a publisher that wanted to publish a wedding book for African-American couples.  She had researched me because I had done wedding stories for Essence that were afrocentric.  That was a dream and I was ready.  So my first book was Jumping The Broom, The African-American Wedding Planner.  It became a best-seller.   As a result of that I began to have my own personal brand identity separate from Essence. You have to establish your brand identity to do anything.

When I was on tour with Jumping The Broom, people would ask me questions on how to do things.  That’s when I saw a need for an etiquette guide.  I was able to get a book deal for How To Be: Contemporary Etiquette For African Americans.  That book helped position me as a lifestyle expert.  It really broadened my base.  What I learned at Essence I was able to bring to the next moment.  Now I write a column called Sense and Sensitivity that is syndicated across the country.

RDD:  There are a lot of people who have had to deal with naysayers.  Maybe they’ve been labeled as a jack of all trades. Have you had to deal with that?

HC:  Even some of my friends would ask, “What do you do?”  Or they’d say, “You do everything.”  No, I don’t do everything.  But I do a lot of things in the lifestyle space. I am a life stylist, a motivational speaker, presentation coach, leadership coach, advice columnist, editor, author, mother, and wife.  It is so important to brand yourself.  It took me years to figure out what the brand of me was.  When I wrote How To Be that’s when I figured it out.  People can come to me to learn to be their best.

When you’re networking and people ask you what you do, say one thing.  Or say what you want to do.  Once I attended a cocktail party and Andre Harrell of Uptown Records asked what I was doing.  How To Be was in its infantile stage, but I told him about the book.  He asked if I could help his clients with learning how to be.  So some of my first clients were Mary J. Blige, Carl Thomas, and Erykah Badu.

It’s all about relationships.  People get to see you.  They trust you.  It builds upon itself.  It’s constant reinvention.

RDD:  Speaking of reinvention, you are now a fashion designer.  Your line 108 Stitches launched on Fashion’s Night Out.  Tell me more about that.

HC:  Initially I was teaching my daughter how to crochet.  Crocheting had been a childhood passion of mine.  In those moments with my daughter I knew I was on to something.  Last year I launched a line of of hand-crocheted accessories called, 108 Stitches.  Now I’m on the other side of fashion.  It’s fun. I never imagined that I’d be designing and selling merchandise.

Misty Copeland for 108 Stitches

RDD: The name 108 Stitches.  How did that come about?

HC:  My husband and I have been practicing meditation since we met.  There are 108 beads on a meditation necklace.  I treat the creation of the pieces as a meditation.  So there is a spiritual component that lives in this collection.  Not every piece is 108 stitches wide, but many of them are.

RDD: Crocheting seems to have had this resurgence.  What do you think about that?

HC: I’m part of a trend.  I have learned over the years that when the economy is down, there’s a surge in home-related activities. Embroidery, knitting, and crocheting are very popular.  My take on it is very modern.  It’s not your grandmother’s crochet. Ballerina, Misty Copeland, modeled the pieces.  The pictures are breathtaking!

Crocheted Necklace, 108 Stitches

108 Stitches, Silk Twine Scarf

RDD: Where do you get your design inspiration?

HC: I love going to yarn stores.  Who knew [laughs]?  There are so many fibers that are amazing.  It’s really about the touch.  I’ve always wrapped myself in something.  I think about what someone would want to caress their body.

To see more of the 108 Stitches collection, visit here.  You are invited to the 108 Stitches Trunk Show in Scarsdale, NY on October 11. Please RSVP to HCC@HarrietteCole.com.

108 Stitches Trunk Show

Source: 108Stitches.biz

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One Response to “Harriette Cole Discusses Reinvention—”108 Stitches” At A Time!”

  1. 1

    toni — October 10, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

    great interview. this is the first that I am hearing that she has her own line. i will def check it out!