Robin Harris is a fashion model represented by Ford Models with an MBA in International Business. She has been in the fashion industry for over 10 years, working as a professional model, designer, merchandiser, and creative director.
She created MODEL ATELIER to fill the void and frustration that tall women have when it comes to finding stylish clothes that’s the perfect fit and length.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I started my business because I couldn’t find clothes to fit my body type. I’m 6 feet tall, and when I wanted to shop for trendy and staple fashion pieces, but they just weren’t available.
After doing plenty of research, I found I wasn’t the only one facing this problem. There was an entire untapped market of women who struggled with the same problem. So I created MODEL ATELIER.
Tell us about your business.
MODEL ATELIER is a luxury design house exclusively for the tall, strong, and confident woman. We offer finely crafted made-to-order collections tailored for women 5’7”and taller. MODEL ATELIER was created by me, a Ford model-turned-designer. I work together with an in-house design team to produce the finest clothing, content, and style for tall women.
- I was a professional fashion model represented by Ford Models and have earned an MBA in International Business.
- I’ve been in the fashion industry for over 15 years, working as a professional model, designer, merchandiser, and creative director.
- I mentor young girls on self-esteem and modeling.
- I also help fund education of youth who may not be able to afford college tuition.
Where is your business based?
My business is based in Chicago, IL, run out of our production facility. However, we’re sold primarily online with product in retail specialty stores, department stores, and hotels.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The first few steps I took to getting my business up and running were plenty of research as to if this was a good idea, how much it would cost me, and filing the legal paperwork to make it official.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
The most effective way of raising awareness for my business was through social media and word of mouth.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Biggest challenges so far would be to balancing running a business and being a mom.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I ask for help and try to manage my time wisely.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I think of the “Why”?
Why I started, why I’m doing this, and knowing that there are others looking up to me such as my daughter. Once I focus on the “why,” I know it’s bigger than the current feeling of challenges or difficulty.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
One way I distinguish myself from my competitors is through design and offering timeless quality products over quantity or fast fashion. As a boutique brand I want our customers to know that they are getting a product not only well crafted but a product they can wear many years to come.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The best advice I’ve received recently was to think generationally or with a legacy mentality. As a designer in fashion, the industry is cut throat; you’re in one day and then you’re out. Taking the advice of thinking generationally affects my decision making and design approach.
MODEL ATELIER will be a household name. Nine times out of ten if you’ve purchased from our store, you may have children or siblings that may be tall or on their way, so thinking generationally we will be starting a children’s line, and a men’s line, very soon.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
To stay focused on the why, be passionate, and think bigger!
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
I love Canva! They have great templates for presentations and social media designs.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
A good article I read recently was about a clothing brand opening a pop-up cafe in Paris. It was a good article because not only was that designer from Chicago, but it showed me to continue to think outside the box.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I’m currently learning about how to raise capital to expand into global markets.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Some goals I have in the next few months include amplifying the launch of our pop-up shop in a hotel. I am striving to achieve this by collaborating with other brands that will be able to help us as we also help them.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
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