We first learned of Heidi Wynne's eponymous cashmere line four years ago via Heather Clawson's blog, Habitually Chic. We own Heidi's beautiful and timeless scarves and wraps in almost every color. More recently, her business has expanded beyond her original line of scarves to straw bags, hats and knits, with even more planned, including a chic line of tees inspired by those worn by Jackie Kennedy. Heidi is not only a stylish and savvy business woman, she also has become a friend and mentor who is always willing to share business insights and her love of fashion and design. Her Instagram is a must follow for our daily fashion inspiration.
What inspired you to launch Heidi Wynne?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and in some ways I was preparing for this for most of my adult life. A few years after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania I went back to campus and took a small business course at Wharton. I waited many years, however, before launching the brand and even now I feel like I have so much more to learn. The brand was inspired by white space in the market for accessible yet well made classic pieces. I created a collection that would remain relevant and wearable for years to come because as a consumer I had wasted so much money on fleeting trends and poorly made garments and accessories. Cashmere seemed to be either exorbitantly priced or of very poor quality and many straw bags would last just one season. I am still wearing and carrying pieces from my first year of business several years ago as they all have held up so well.
I hope that when somebody purchases an item from the collection that it will become a favorite and they can be assured that it will not be out of style in two years. If I had to summarize the brand in three words it would be well made classics.
We love Heidi's uptown style shown here with her own Elliott Satchel
We love your classic chic cashmere scarves and straw bags....they are timeless and the quality is excellent. You are now moving more into other knits such as your Aran knit sweaters and your new Jackie Tees. Would you like to see these lines expand further?
Thank you so much and yes- absolutely. I will offer cashmere sweaters for holiday, wool hats and dog sweaters from Ireland, and luxury cashmere travel sets. A limited collection for men is launching in a few weeks as well. There are so many more categories I would love to explore including loungewear, organic pajamas, beach cover-ups and shirtdresses. My NY factory and I have already discussed the shirtdresses and I hope to offer them this spring. I am also working on classic leather bags in addition to straw
Who have been your mentors and what have you learned from them?
My sweet, incredibly chic friend, celebrity stylist Ann Caruso has helped me immensely with my business. My image needed so much work when I first launched. I had beautiful, professional model friends to work with however I didn't yet understand how to properly plan or style a photo-shoot and the end result was an image that wasn’t in line with my vision or taste. Ann dedicated so much of her time and energy to helping me elevate my image and select the right shoe, skirt, pant, etc. to go with the collection as well as recommending a good assistant to help stay organized. I was overwhelmed with other details like production, shipping and managing my site. I'm eternally grateful for Ann’s support and she continues to offer honest feedback on my image to help me improve.
Easy Breezy....Ann Caruso with Heidi's Straw Tote
My best friend from high school Ingrid Crain, who is a VP with Kate Spade, is a financial wizard and has provided helpful business advice as well as emotional support. It is so important to have friends who will offer constructive criticism and who are truly supportive and invested in your success. Another longtime friend, Alexandra Golaszewska, has a marketing firm called Alexandra Go and she has helped me navigate the world of social media. I was initially using too many hash tags and not understanding how to reach the right audience. Alexandra taught me to relax with the hash tags and present a much cleaner, more sophisticated image and also taught me how to link accounts, target the right audience for sales and to schedule posts and emails. She’s also been a mentor in terms of self-improvement and will send inspiring motivational and business articles and podcasts.
Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic (I’ve been a fan of her blog since day one) has also been a mentor and supportive friend- she has impeccable taste and I always value her opinion. Preston Davis’s site Keep it Chic, another one of my all time favorites, always inspires me. She has posted my straw bags and having her stamp of approval was incredible. My sweet friend Permele Doyle is President of Billionaire's Boy's Club, an influencer-marketing agency, and has been amazing as well. She is such a smart woman with valuable advice and in depth knowledge of the ever-changing influencer marketing and social media world. Being a solo entrepreneur can be lonely and isolating at times however I feel so fortunate to have such smart, sophisticated women in my life who encourage and support me- and that of course includes you.
What are your favorite aspects of running your business? What are your least favorite aspects?
My favorite aspects of the business include the creative process- becoming inspired by icons such as Jackie O and places like Ravello and coming up with new designs. Interacting with customers and followers via social media and email is also a favorite aspect of running the business. I’ve met so many wonderful people and I love hearing from them. Another favorite aspect of my business is when I spot somebody wearing one of my cashmere wraps or carrying one of my straw bags months or even years after receiving it. Elizabeth Hurley continues to wear her leopard print wrap and other cashmere scarves and it always makes my day when I spot them in her stories. Grace Atwood of The Stripe, Ann Caruso and Permele do as well. My least favorite aspect is the stress of possible production errors as well as customer returns since I offer free shipping. Fortunately I have an abnormally low return rate however my business is self funded and returns are very costly however I do understand it is part of an online business. I’ve gotten much better at managing the stress and realizing that it is all part of entrepreneurship. The positive aspects of my business definitely outweigh any negatives and I’m so grateful for my customers and for being able to create these classic collections and have them be appreciated.
Inspiration.... the Jackie tee, coming soon from Heidi Wynne. We cannot wait.
Whom do you count among your favorite style icons?
Lee Radziwill, Jackie O and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy have had a tremendous influence on my style. I also think that Lauren Santo Domingo is as chic as it gets. More favorites include Lauren Hutton, Romy Schneider, Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Candice Bergen, Sophia Coppola, Carolina Herrera, Ines de la Fressange, Margaux Hemingway, and all of the nineties supermodels. For my men’s collection Alain Delon is a huge inspiration as well as JFK and my dapper attorney, Douglas Hand, who is the most stylish man I know.
Elizabeth Hurley in Heidi Wynne Cashmere
Four Favorites....what is your favorite:
Way to spend a Saturday?
Rittenhouse Square Farmer's Market in the morning with the dogs followed by coffee at La Colombe and then brunch with friends at Parc. The afternoon is spent at the Rodin Museum or The Barnes and then dinner at The Dandelion. I moved from the Upper East Side back to Philadelphia a year and a half ago so another favorite way to spend the day is to go back to NY. I would have lunch with Ann Caruso and our friend Claudia Mason, a walk through Central Park and perhaps pop into either the The Frick or Met Breur, then dinner in Chelsea or the West Village with my friend Michael and my friend Isabelle and a late train home. I love both cities and sometimes am tempted to move back however the pace in Philadelphia is so nice and I do love where I live in Rittenhouse Square.
The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia...a must visit for inspiration.
Room of all time?
Marella Agnelli's Marrakech bedroom. No contest. It is perfect.
The Talented Mr. Ripley. I love everything about this film. A few of my other favorites include I am Love, La Piscine, A Single Man, To Catch a Thief, Orlando and Love Story. Several films as well as Jackie O inspired my latest photo shoot. The theme was Italian Socialite/Jackie O plus Ali McGraw in Love Story for the cozy sweaters. I am Love was a powerful source of inspiration and I watched The Talented Mr. Ripley several times before the shoot to for the effortless, elegant Italian style of that film.
The Talented Mr. Ripley.....iconic style for both fashion and interiors.
I enjoy Italy- Florence is beautiful and Milan is so chic. I also love Stockholm, Martha’s Vineyard, Palm Beach and the Hamptons. However my absolute favorite place to escape is the Hudson Valley. It centers me and brings me back to life when I’ve been stressed. Two of my close friends have bought country homes there and my dream is to join them soon. Rhinebeck, Millbrook, Hudson, Kingston and Olivebridge are a few of my favorite towns. Fresh air, Farmers Markets, lazy afternoons by the pool and cold nights by a fire- for me that’s the ideal way to live. I can’t wait to have a country house to fill with antiques from your shop-perhaps an old Victorian or Colonial.