We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Farmer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I think the most important factor behind the success of our brand is to know your customer and have the ability to be fluid and quickly pivot to meet their needs. We have always prided ourselves on excellent customer service and I believe this is one of the reasons our business is succeeding in such challenging times. We manufacture our collection in the USA in our own factory in West Palm Beach FL. This gives us the flexibility to quickly change what we are making to meet customer demand. We do not have to commit in advance to huge production orders and we are able to create what our customers want when they ask for it , instead of just following seasonal trends. When times get tough it forces you to look at what you are doing, figure what needs to change and do it better. When COVID 19 hit we asked ourselves, what can we do to make our business better? What do our customer’s need? Where are they going? How can we help? We immediately implemented safety protocols, increased our bespoke department, switched our production to pieces that could be worn more casually and changed our selling platform to service our customers needs through virtual styling and shopping and added the ability to shop our collection through instagram and the web.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am proud of the fact that we are succeeding in a time when our industry is experiencing great difficulties and challenges. We created a format where our pieces are made in USA locally . Our designs are for the most part made of silk, linen and beautiful cottons and exclusive to our boutiques. We have kept our brand elevated and unique by not flooding the market with an over saturation of product and it has paid off in a time of surplus and world wide mass consumption. We also present in our stores a number of fabulous emerging designers from across the globe making the shopping experience in our stores exciting, fresh and unique., We are always super excited to introduce new brands that would not normally have a platform to present in great resort locations the USA. I got to where I am today from hard work , and the belief in myself that I can do anything if I put my mind to it and the promise to keep my word. . I am self taught as a clothing and jewelry designer and learned the hard way through trial and error. I started the company when I persuaded my husband to rent me his investment property in Palm Beach for three months to do a ‘pop up” . I had a been in the fine jewelry business for the last 14 years and wanted a brick and mortar space in Palm Beach. After much negotiating he finally agreed . I had two weeks to renovate and open since season was upon us and I had no idea what to put in a 3000 square foot space. I had no budget to buy product and no idea how to make clothing. I cold called a number of emerging fashion brands and asked them to consign their pieces. Everyone wanted to be in Palm Beach and said yes! As one woman show in the beginning, I was extremely careful to always keep my word and come hell or high water our designers were always paid on time. I was selling my jewelry in the boutique and then started to dabble in my clothing line by hand dying and draping garments. During this time I was always exhausted working day and night but I was loving every moment of it . Eventually I started to take sewing and pattern making classes and then hired a full time seamstress and worked along with a pattern maker to expand on my collection. Because I was working in the store I was able to hear customer feed back and find out what our customers wanted. 6 months after opening my first store we opened our first Hamptons location. Three months later the Dorado Beach Resort a Ritz Carlton Reserve approached us to open in their Peurto Rico location.. Within one year we were able to open three stores, followed by Greenwich Ct, Southampton Ny and the Boca Resort. In 2016 we built our own 2500 square foot atelier in West Palm Beach and now employ a number of amazing seamstresses and pattern makers. We now create about 70% of what we sell in our stores and have a thriving bespoke department. We now have Stores in Palm Beach, Southampton, the Boca Resort and the Boca Resort Beach club and have plans to further expand our stores in 2021 into a number of amazing new resort locations on the West Coast.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We entertain quite a bit at the house and I prefer to spend most of my time with smaller groups of very close friends We always love Cocktails on the porch with friends watching the boats go by followed by a glam biking to dinner at Sant Ambroeus or Kitchen. Of course you can’t miss a day at the beach or walking the lake trail with our English Springer Spaniels. I always suggest to friends a work out with Jacqueline at Le Barre, or private classes with Rhonda Ashkettle fitness. For dinner we love to pop in for diner at Pizza Al fresco, Cucina, Imotto or Pistache and of course our favorite breakfast spot City Diner.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to thank My parents , My dad taught me to toughen up, fight through challenges and to be your word. My mom taught me to believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough. (My moms words to live by: “you only get what you are willing to accept in life . Another favorite of hers was and “Speak it, and make it happen”. My husband Peter who loved me enough to take a chance on me following a dream to create something out of nothing . (He thought I was only doing a three month Pop up LOL. (8 years and 6 stores later he is my business partner and CFO). Our amazing team of brilliant and talented individuals that have believed in our business and have made it the success that it is today.
Linkedin: MichelleFarmer https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-farmer-1416156/
Head shot Nick Mele Store shot by mirror Chelsea Horton Rory McCabe
Ingrid Cramer for the atelier shots