Fashion / Style

The New Designing Woman: This Entrepreneur Built One of Fashion’s Hottest Brands With No Experience — and Now She’s Eyeing Dallas & Houston

BY // 01.21.16

Alice + Olivia CEO and creative director Stacey Bendet is the poster girl for “no experience needed.” Before founding A+O, she was a student at the University of Pennsylvania, where she fed her appetite for creativity by designing flash websites. Bendet began graphics work for a number of companies in PR and fashion, and soon developed an itch to transfer her design expertise to garments.

With no prior training in fashion design, she purchased a roll of splashy fabric and created a pair of striped pants, an action that led to the launch of one of today’s hottest contemporary brands.

Alice + Oliva (which is named after Bendet’s mother) is on the road to a sizable store expansion that will result in 75 namesake boutiques by 2018 (50 international, 25 in the U.S.). The whimsical designer recently shared with PaperCity the sources of her inspiration, her plans for Texas and more.

PaperCity: When you started, you had no design training or fashion industry experience. How did you make all of this happen?
Stacey Bendet: I always wanted to design, I have always loved making things. It was definitely a dream from early on. After studying in Paris, I knew this was what I wanted to do. 

What type of woman seeks the Alice + Olivia brand?
I envision every woman in Alice + Olivia. Our clothing is about making a woman smile when she sees it, touches it and wears it.

You just opened an Alice + Olivia location in Dallas. Can Houston expect a store anytime soon?
We are so excited about our Houston store, which is opening in May 2016; it’s going to offer our customers an intimate and whimsical shopping experience.

What drew you to the Texas market?
Well, they say everything is bigger in Texas, so why not open two stores? Dallas and Houston are both cool in their own right, and we knew that the brand would be the perfect fit.

Where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration changes every day. I spend two hours of my day, every day, working on the fit of our clothing. As a woman designing for other women, it is so important to me that our clothing has a perfect fit.

What’s next for A+O?
We are really focused on opening stores around the world. We are excited for our clothing to be accessible to beautiful women everywhere.

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