Stella Accessories Interview

Alexia Panza, Danielle Zuckerman, Taylor Sugrue & Samantha Vigorito present Stella Accessories. It’s an hair accessories line for the fashion forward. Visit their blog and see who’s wearing what.

Remember I told you I would try to get a Q & A in the future? Here’s what you’ve been waiting for.

Stella Accessories

What are your ages and where are you all from?

There are four of us who are co-owners of Stella Accessories.  Me (Danielle Zuckerman), Taylor Sugrue, Alexia Panza and Samantha Vigorito.  We are each 21 years old.  Taylor and I are long-time friends from Manalapan, NJ.  Alexia is from Fort Lauderdale, FL and Samantha is from Monroe, CT.

Could you tell me how this really came about? Maybe mention something that’s not in your “About Us”.

 We are all students at fashion schools in NYC.  I go to FIT and the other three girls go to Laboratory Institute of Merchandising.  We moved in together June 2008 and clicked right away.  Two months later we were just looking for something to do on a rainy, summer day.  Someone suggested making headbands. 

We went to the garment district and bought some stuff and then just started designing headbands for the fun of it.  We started wearing them to school all the time and got really positive feedback from our classmates.  Peers started asking us if we could make them one and they would buy it from us. 

We were sitting there and someone literally said “imagine if we started a business doing this,” and then we did.  It really helped that we all have such ambitious attitudes.  We started off small with flea markets around the city and at our schools, and then slowly but surely we built up a website and started pitching to different publications.  Before we knew it, Stella Accessories was a well-known hair accessory brand.

What do you plan to do in the future with the accessories?

In the future, we plan to venture out to different accessories.  We would love to start designing jewelry and we also want to make a children’s line for the headbands.

What inspires your ideas?

In terms of our inspiration, we really get it EVERYWHERE.  In the beginning, we used a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces of our grandmothers’ and mothers’ vintage jewelry.  We still try to incorporate those things into whatever designs we can because not only are they important to us, but they are so much cooler than a lot of the jewelry out there today. 

We also get inspiration from just living in the city and seeing all of the diverse people around us.  Everyone in NYC really has their own styles and we definitely take that into account when designing our pieces.  The four of us are also very different in terms of our personal styles; by taking little pieces of each of our personal styles, we come up with designs that incorporate so many different looks.  That’s what is so much fun about having four people design one piece.

What do you say to students pursuing fashion?

The one piece of advice we always give is to DO IT.  We never thought we would be in this position today.  When I say we created this brand on a whim, we did.  One day we just took an idea and some ambition and went with it, and look where it got us. 

One thing I’ve learned from this experience, as cliche as it may sound, is that you really can do anything.  Of course it took countless all-nighters and a lot of stress at times, but seeing your design in Teen Vogue or on Jessica Alba’s hair makes it worth it.  If there are any students out there reading this that are trying to pursue something like this, you should definitely go for it.  It may seem impossible, but that’s what we thought in the beginning also.
What were your original plans for career ideas?

It’s funny because none of us had an accessory brand in our plans for careers.  I am really interested in advertising copywriting, Alexia is all about public relations, Samantha wants to work in the fashion industry and Taylor is going to go to graduate school for economics.  As you can probably see, we all had different plans for our future but this all just took us by surprise and we couldn’t be happier about it.

What was the journey like to get this far?

I will not lie, the journey was definitely hard, but definitely worth it.  As I said earlier, we pulled a bunch of all-nighters to complete things on time.  With each of us working or having internships, being in school full-time and owning our own brand, it got stressful.  It was a huge help throughout this whole experience that we had each other.  When one of us would be stressing out, we had the other three girls to calm us down. 

The four of us do balance each other out very well and that is how we got through some of the stress of starting our own business.  At times, we just needed to remind each other and ourselves that the outcome is worth every second spent working hard.  So with a little help from each other and a lot of Red Bull, we got to where we are.  When you have such a strong passion for something, nothing can stop you; I think that’s how we all felt about it.

I couldn’t agree more, what was your reaction to getting so much attention with celebrities wearing you work?

When we see our designs in a magazine or on a celebrity, we still freak out!  We call each other screaming and all run home with the magazine or the picture so we can get excited together.  We were so excited the first time we saw Jessica Alba wearing one of our headbands; it was unreal.  We were flipping through the channels one day and saw our headband on Gossip Girl. 

It is really hard to explain the feeling you get when you see your designs in an environment outside of where you made it.  I still get so excited if I see someone at school wearing one of our pieces, let alone the celebrities.  It’s almost surreal; sometimes we have to stop for a minute and say “wait a minute, that is OUR headband!”  Seeing our pieces on celebrities and in such well-known magazines and newspapers has probably been one of the best feelings we have ever had.

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