The Laurent and Altieri story began with founder, Genevieve Laurent, who fell in love with a handbag when she was a child. The fur and leather details sparked her interest in fashion and she began to collect handbags from a variety of designers who inspired her. All the while, dreaming of having her very own collection someday. Genevieve is currently a Pharmacist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. While pursuing this demanding career, she noticed a void in the fashion industry – practical handbags for professional women. Combining her passion for leather goods and love of design, she made it her mission to solve the problem.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
My grandfather immigrated to the USA in hopes of making a better life for his family and succeeded by becoming an entrepreneur in the grocery business. After his tragic death, my father took over the business and worked very hard every single day to grow the business. As a result, they became my inspiration to follow in their footsteps of entrepreneurship. My father instilled in me great work ethics by having me work alongside him as a child until I became a young woman. I was taught to work hard, stay positive and to believe in myself. Soon after my father’s illness and passing, I decided to pursue my passion and love for fashion. Life is too short not to.
Tell us about your business.
It all started when I began importing genuine Italian leather handbags, which I felt would be practical for the everyday woman on the go. I had no knowledge of importing and exporting/U.S. Customs and Border Protection so I had to educate myself and reach out to companies that did. As a result, one thing led to another and finally, I found what I was searching for to start the business.
The company is now about a year old and the response for these genuine handmade Italian leather bags has been great. Those who purchased were happy to have a great fashionable bag for all occasions. The leather is highly sought after for its durability, quality, authenticity and classic design. Finished with simple but traditional Italian craftsmanship.
Today, we continue to grow as we collaborate with other Italian artisans who believe in us and want the world to see their art. These masterpieces would make anyone very happy to own.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
On our website, we are currently running a 10% off coupon once you subscribe to our newsletter. Occasionally, on Instagram and Facebook, we have giveaways and raffles to those who help spread the word about us.
I have a doctorates degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences and a Master’s degree in Information System. I am also certified in Emergency Medicine and fluent in three languages.
Where is your business based?
The business is based in New York City and Milan but being an e-commerce business, we are hoping to go global.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Initially, the first step was to obtain inventory and legalize the business as an LLC. Thereafter, creating a website and executing sales. I also started networking and attending seminars to educate myself and meet other entrepreneurs in the world of fashion, business and networking, especially with lady bosses.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
The most effective way of raising awareness of the business has been word of mouth and social media. Pop-up events have also been another channel for promotions and sales. In addition, the production of videos and photo-shoots of our bags with great models and influencers has helped as well.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Some of my biggest challenges are marketing, SEO, branding and sales. But the most challenging one has been prioritizing my projects and deciphering where to spend my time that brings the most value.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Perseverance! Never give up no matter what happens. It sustains me to continue the hard work.
I have also created a to-do list of goals that helped me plan and manage my time better. It helps me get things done in a timely fashion.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I pray, I exercise, and I remind myself continuously why I started. Stay focused and be consistent.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
By being myself and selling products that become part of its owner’s everyday life. The key is to engender a culture of honesty, trust and respect, which results in a positive impact on customer loyalty.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Do the work. There are no shortcuts.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Love the journey, put in the time and don’t look back. Stay Focused!
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
Dropbox, Networking events, Facebook and Instagram.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I stay current by reading various pharmaceutical related articles and attend seminars to continue my professional education. I also spend time reading posts from people that inspire me who I consider mentors such as Gary Vaynerchuk and others.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am learning that you can’t do everything on your own. Building a team is essential because there are only so many hours a person can devote to a business. So looking for a team that can help me write newsletters, emails, and assist with social media, etc. but can also carry on when I am not around.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Some of my goals are to improve my marketing plans in order to run a profitable operation; to increase my email list; to participate in more vendor events and ultimately to increase sales. Currently using Mailchimp to send better emails and continuous networking.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @genevieve_laurent, @laurentaltieri
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