Season 3 Episode 6
Lauren Warkentine, CEO, fashion designer, entrepreneur

Lauren Warkentine is an Oklahoma City entrepreneur whose business acumen has led her through the worlds of pharmaceuticals, finance, and finally into custom clothing. However, the common thread linking each of her endeavors is the unwavering pursuit of finding the right solutions.

As the founder and CEO of William & Lauren Custom Clothier, Lauren helps shoppers create confidence through fashion, empowering them to take risks, push fear aside, and step into their purpose.

In today’s episode, Lauren shares what it was like to take the leap from being the president of a large pharmaceutical company to entering the world of clothing design. She reveals the key insights and strategies that propelled her to success.

Observing a major gap in the market

Chris Allen: All right. Hey, welcome to The Entrepreneur’s Studio. I’d like to welcome Lauren Warkentine. I have to say I know you by a little bit of a different name. I know your first name really well from William & Lauren, and I decided today to wear one of your masterpieces, so I'm super thrilled that you could make your way down here and have a conversation with us in The Entrepreneur’s Studio.

Lauren Warkentine: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you started off as a president of a pharmaceutical software company, but made your way into fashion and clothing design. So talk to us about how you made that leap between, I would say, two very different industries.

Lauren: That's a fair assessment. Yeah, so I started, as you said, in pharmacy software. So really how I fell into it, is that it was my family's business. So my dad started Computer-Rx in the early 1980s. So that's how I got into that space. So I spent the first 10 years of my career there, graduated from The University of Oklahoma (OU), then went to work for a software company.

And while I was there, really, the idea for William & Lauren was born. I don't think I ever thought I would do it full time, but I just wanted to see if I could solve the problem. This was probably 2015. And then in 2016, we sold to a private equity firm, and I stayed for a couple of years. And really just was like, “What's next?” So I kind of fell into it, and here we are.

Chris: Yeah, there you go.

Lauren: That's the short version.

Chris: Well, tell everybody what the business is.

Lauren: Yeah. So William & Lauren makes custom clothing for men and women. So we specialize in suiting, blazers, I'd say workwear, but it's ultimately custom clothing. So we do some casual wear shirts, tuxedos, yeah, really custom blazers and suits and work pants for men and women.

Chris: Yeah. Well, it's a pretty interesting experience. This and a couple other blazers was a gift from my boss. Basically everybody that reported to him. We got this really great experience where your team of ridiculously talented people came in and had us fitted and we got to pick out everything, including the buttons we wanted. It's a pretty interesting experience. It's a pretty great gift. Where do you acquire most of your customers?

Lauren: Yeah. So I would say most come from word of mouth, just like any business getting started. They come to us for suiting, so I said we do more than that, but it's definitely how they find us, so they're an attorney or they work in corporate or have some kind of professional role. We get a lot of scenarios in which somebody sees you in that jacket, and they’re like, “That's a really nice jacket,” and then you send them to us. So we get a lot of word of mouth, but then we get a ton of just people who Google for custom suits. It's a problem that we solve. There's definitely plenty of competition, but it's a very niche business.

So we do get a lot of searches for women, so we serve men and women. We get women all over the country. So I'd say there's less competition on the women's side. So we'll get women who wear blazers or pants and they struggle to find something that fits. So they'll start searching. They'll begin the search for a custom fit blazer and stumble upon us, so yeah.

Chris: I think there are two things I've been itching to ask you. One of them is that you have this, I would call it the spark of entrepreneurship, but then also clothes. So tell us where did the entrepreneurship bug really start for you? Where did you start to see it show up in your life? And then tell us about where the clothing intersection came in.

Lauren: Yeah, the intersection, that's a good story. So I would say the bug started pretty young. Obviously I was raised by an entrepreneur, he wouldn't call himself that, but when I really think back to how I was raised, there was very much a mindset of entrepreneurship around just little things. And so I'd say the first, probably, small things were in, maybe, high school. Probably in high school when I had started some vending machines. So it’s the same thing, you see a problem—

Chris: Tell us about this vending machine problem.

Lauren: It was quite a topic in college because I always had $1 bills. People were like, “Why do you have a stack of ones?” I was like, “I have vending machines.”

Chris: I have way more questions now.

Lauren: It was wild. So in high school at my parents' business, the staff started asking for snacks and stuff. So I got a loan for $300 from my parents and bought a tabletop vending machine and filled it with Sam's Club snacks, it was not hard.

Chris: How much was this vending machine? How much cash was it shelling out every week?

Lauren: I don't know that I can tell you on that one because I don't think I was doing the math at that point. But then probably late high school I added a couple of soda machines. So I would say that was really when it started because my parents didn't help with that one. So they gave me the loan on the first one, and I had to save and buy those soda machines. I basically searched until I found... This is so random, but I found these refurbished Pepsi machines in Shawnee, Oklahoma. This guy refurbished and sold them and he would come service them, it was great.

Chris: That's amazing.

Lauren: So I bought one machine, I think it had 10 different sodas. You could set your price and dispense 12-ounce cans. We had a non-soda, I can't remember exactly what. But we had soda and non-soda, but it had to be a can. It was a good profit, and we'd buy them for 35, 30 cents a can and sell them for, I think 75 cents or $1.

Chris: Wow.

Lauren: So I was trying not to be crazy.

Chris: Yeah, that's a deal.

Lauren: It was a deal. And I was producing lots of $1 bills and lots of quarters. I would take boxes of coins to the bank. I think they hated it when I showed up, it'd be like $1,000 in quarters and I’d say, “I'd like to deposit this.”

Chris: You're like, “I wish Coinstar was around then.”

Lauren: I know. And then I bought a second machine, so I had two of them because as the staff grew, my business grew, but it didn't go beyond that. I've always had a mind for finding holes, I just don't typically act on them, so the vending machine's an example. But I’m just always observing connections or, I don't want to say problems, but just different spots where I'll be like, “Ooh, that could be a business,” or, “Ooh, there's missing there.” I just don't typically do anything about it.

And so when I was in college, I was at The University of Oklahoma, I think it was in 2009. I studied abroad, I did a two or three-week trip through the architecture college, I was a business school kid, but it was a way to go to China. So we did, I think it was two to three weeks in China. And I was going into my, I think, senior year. While we were there, we were in Beijing, I believe, and our professor took the guys, only the guys, to this tailor shop. And anybody that's gone overseas, you've got a similar story. So this happens in Thailand or wherever you go, India. They got custom suits made in four days while we were there. They delivered them to the hotel before we flew out, for pennies.

I was in college and thought, “Holy crap, one, I want one.” Not even that I wore suits, I just knew in a year I'm going to start a big girl job. I didn't want one bad enough at the time, but in hindsight I was like, “Why was it only the guys?” So I had that thought. Then two, it was, “If they're that affordable here and that fast, why is it that it would've been $2,000 in the United States?” So I just remembered thinking, “Somebody needs to go away,” or if you could get to those people, you could mass market.

So I just had this thought at 21 or 20 years old, however old I was. I was like, “There's a business there, but I had never acted on it.” So it was just this moment of observing around me, I guess you could say. So then fast-forward to 2015, that experience happened and I'd moved on. So in 2015 I was working in a pharmacy, and I was a pretty young female. There are more female pharmacists than males that graduate pharmacy school, but there's a very low percentage in, I would say, the support side, so the Cardinals and McKessons and the big companies that surround it on the vendor side. Even in pharmacy ownership, it was like there was some crazy statistic indicating there are not many women who own the pharmacies.

So as I started to progress and was working more on the vendor side, I was in my mid-twenties. I was a very young female working with older men, primarily. I think I found myself in situations where I needed suiting more around probably 2014, 2015, and I just could not find it, I just couldn't find it. I think most women probably would agree that I was hodgepodging pieces together from all these different shops. I'd walk into a meeting or a boardroom, and the guy from head to toe has probably got $10,000 on him, and I'm thrown together at a Target like, “OK.” And I'm already young, I stand out. I felt very conscious of it.

And I think growing up in the business with my parents, I never lacked confidence. I knew it, I knew the business, I worked hard, I was always just very confident. In the pharmacy world, I started to become very much like, “Ooh, I don't belong here.” I started to let it affect me. I remember specifically, when we were in Atlanta, there was one dinner where we were trying to close this big deal with a nutrition company, and I was so uncomfortable in the suit I had because I really didn't have to wear suits a lot, but when I did, it was miserable.

The whole dinner, the guys were, all the men there were wonderful men, but it was the experience of the moment the business started, they shifted to my male co-worker who reported to me, and I just sat there and let it happen. And I'd never done that. And they did nothing wrong, it was the first time I had correlated my clothing with my confidence, and ultimately my performance, I guess you could say. So I got to the airport and I looked at my male co-worker and said, “I never want to feel like that ever again.” It was just that feeling of… I just was so uncomfortable I couldn't be present in the meeting.

Chris: Almost invisible.

Lauren: And it wasn't them. Hindsight looking back, they did nothing. I think it was how I was portraying myself, how I was coming forward. It was all in my head. And it was interesting because he said, “I feel the same way when I have to wear a suit.” Of course I'm like, “Oh, you're a man, it's a dime a dozen.” But he was an offensive lineman in college, he's a box, in his words. That was the moment. I remember we got on that airplane, I put my headphones in, and it retriggered that moment in college, and that was basically it.

So from that point forward, I don't want to say it consumed me, like I said, I never thought I would do it full time, the plan was to stay with the family business, life has funny plans. But I couldn't let that one go. And maybe it's because I needed it I think because I wanted the end product, but I just always thought, “I can solve this problem.” I don't know what I thought I was going to do with it when I solved it, but I just couldn't let go of that one.

Chris: Yeah. So it seems like the business was born out of not only a problem, but a personal issue where you were like, “I wonder if other people feel this way,” and sort of wanted to give them a confidence boost through how they looked in some of the clothing.

Lauren: Yeah.

Learning a new industry through research, trial, and error

Chris: That's awesome. Well, talk to us about how'd you get to day one?

Lauren: So I started it, like I said, it was really a moment of, “Can I solve the problem?” So I just basically would spend my evenings researching, thinking through what any entrepreneur would like, “Is there a profit in this? And what would I sell it at? And what would the process be?” So just thinking through, “What else is on the market?” So just really doing that research and formulating answers to questions like, “Could this be something?”

I would say it was trial and error. So the main thing was, “Can I find someone to produce?” So I worked through that process, and lost some money in the deal. You have to test some people, some of them are scams, but most of them aren't. And then, I think afterwards I thought, “OK, I could do this.” And then it went into, “Let's come up with a name and create a brand.” And I was naive to think I could just create a website and if it worked, I would go full time. So I created a website, and just kind of did it incrementally. And I would say it didn't go... Obviously, I think any entrepreneur would agree that if you don't put full energy into it, it's not going to probably go anywhere. So I sold clothes to friends and family, dabbling in it for a couple of years. And then—

Chris: And you're doing the custom clothing somewhere at this point?

Lauren: Yeah.

Chris: OK.

Lauren: Yeah. I wasn’t sewing it myself. We had clothes everywhere. I had to learn to sew. I think that's a misperception. I didn't grow up with textiles. It was truly just that I wanted to solve a problem and just had to incrementally learn what I needed to learn, I guess.

Chris: So you went and found suppliers?

Lauren: Yeah, I went and found suppliers to build out a pricing model. The supplier was, everything hinged on learned measurements, learned tailoring. So I learned enough of the pattern sewing and tailoring world to know what to look for, and to know fit. It doesn't mean I can necessarily do it, but I know enough to quality check and take care of clients. Then I just started... It was really just an iteration from there. I fit my brother and my dad and I had some friends' husbands who were clients... because we didn't have women yet, it was only men to start, women took a long time. So it was only men for a while. It just was about trying it out and seeing they come in and do they fit and just testing it out.

I did that for a few years. I don't know if I ever thought it'd be a real business, but I think it was more of the idea like, “I had an inner itch to solve a problem.” And I think to be honest, working for my parents, there were a lot of deep-rooted ideas that I'm only here because of my last name. I think that served as a way for me to prove, “No, you're capable.” Even though in hindsight I didn't realize that's what I was doing, that's ultimately what it was. I don't know that I probably had that vision, it was just more I think that I needed that project.

Then we sold to private equity a year later, and they keep you busy. So I didn't have much time to do—

Chris: You've got to hit those growth numbers.

Lauren: There was not much capacity beyond what we were doing with them. So I didn't do much with it until I left. And it was within about two and a half years and I gave it a run. So in 2019, I went full time, yeah.

Chris: Wow.

Lauren: And that's when it really started to grow, obviously, once I gave it daily energy.

Growing a business via the power of community

Chris: That's good. Well, one of the ways we met you, obviously was being a customer and that you have a shop down the street, but when Jabee was here, he was like, “You guys, you've got to talk with Lauren.” And I think one of the things that's been really awesome about the work that he's done is that he brings a lot of awareness to things going on in the community. So I'd want to maybe have you unpack for a second just how you think about your business in the community and some of the work you do or the ways you have intersections with people who are supporting the community. How do you connect with people and network and be a part of this greater OKC community?

Lauren: Yeah, that was a great question. Jabee, yeah, truly, he's incredible. It's interesting because I think it's happened very organically, and it's one of those things that I've sworn, and I would add to this, we're looking to open a store in Tulsa early next year. So I've really been unpacking this question of what has worked in Oklahoma City?

And our team feels very strongly that the community piece is a lot of it. So how do we replicate that authentically to that community? So I've been trying to answer this question. I’m still working on it, but I think it's happened very organically. I think for me, I think it's probably rooted just in my philosophy of business is relationships. Then I think where I've seen it the most is that what we're about is giving people confidence.

The business came from my need, but the life that it's taken on… even I couldn't have imagined it. And ultimately, I think it's about how to empower someone to not have to think about or be sidetracked by how they feel or how they look so they can just go fully do what they're doing. So the good work Jabee is doing, how do I make him feel comfortable and confident and in his own skin, not like he’s in a costume? Or if he's got to go to something that he's maybe dressing differently than he would on a daily basis? How do you help him not let that be a barrier or a distraction?

I think that's ultimately how it's organically happened — because of those relationships. I would even add Jabee or just since this one is recent, it's on my mind, but Chef Andrew Black at Grey Sweater. He came to us and we helped him with his James Beard Award outfit. I think he was a great example of somebody who's super confident and is a master at his skill. He came to us and was like, “I don't want to wear a suit.” So it's this thing that has this connotation of being stuffy and being uncomfortable, and people don't want to wear it.

How do you let them flex their personality and give them confidence to show up and do the work they're doing so then they can do it? So I think that's ultimately where it's come from. Then I'm in the community, so I'm passionate about giving back where we can, and unintentionally did that in the process. I would have to say it was not a strategy, it just was just Oklahoma City.

Overcoming imposter syndrome

Chris: Yeah. I think you've been very obviously, righteously, opportunistic. You see a problem, you try to solve it, and whether that's an individual who needs help and you step up, or you start a whole business. What were the unexpected challenges? What got in the way of you doing this at the level you believe would be your best?

Lauren: Yeah, that's such a good question. I think there's stuff all along the way in there. I know there's stuff waiting for me I haven't hit yet. I'd say when I started, obviously a lot of it came back to the fact that I didn’t have the knowledge or the skills. I did not have the inherent knowledge of sewing and clothing and the traditional fashion industry. I came from pharmacy, just like you said, so I was very much an outsider. Obviously, I think that's an advantage in a lot of ways, but it's also very intimidating because I think it took a lot longer to get some things accomplished just because I didn't even know what questions to ask, in a lot of cases. I didn't know what companies to go to for help or what to ask. You're kind of just flailing around trying to figure it out.

I think ultimately it's just that unwavering pursuit of the solution that kept... And I would say this for any business, I wasn't afraid to ask dumb questions. I looked so dumb so many times and I just didn't care, or I would try to ask it in a way that I didn't look totally dumb, but in my mind I was like, “I have no idea what I'm asking.” Now I just am like, “I don't know if I'm going to ask you dumb questions.” But I think I wasn't afraid to seek out answers in every form. Everything is at your fingertips, Google, you can call people and ask them, you can find what you need to find.

And I just incrementally learned. So I mentioned we started with men. I would say there were not a ton of hurdles with men because it's an existing model. And I tell our team that all the time, we're not doing anything revolutionary. We just need to do it better and take care of people. I think ultimately the service side is the difference, and obviously I think we have a great quality product at a price, but ultimately, they can go somewhere else. But with women at the time, there are more people doing it now, but at the time, there really wasn't, so that was the biggest hurdle, that took a couple of years of just... basically, we had to develop it.

I had no idea how to develop a clothing line, so I just had to learn. And I think there were a lot of doubters along the way of, “Oh, there's no market. Why would...” Some of that just getting in your head was definitely part of it. But really I think it was that I just incrementally, whenever I would hit a wall, I would ask myself, “What information do you need?” Then I'd go solve it. And then I would typically hit another wall. Then I'd look back and be like, “Dang, I know quite a bit about patterns.”

I definitely hired companies to build things and lost money, or I did things with slow weights, because I didn't know any better. So I would say probably getting women's to market was the hardest. Then there are the normal business challenges of when to hire, etc.

Taking a client-centric approach and making a difference

Chris: Well, when it comes to building a company, you're trying to build a brand and you have a promise. And if you deliver on that promise, you tend to get repeat business or referrals. What has been the thing you would say has been the hardest to do? Or maybe it is the most unexpected benefit of the brand work you've done, kind of taking William & Lauren from a name to actually meaning something?

Lauren: Yeah, that's an interesting question. I think you're dead on about what it is. I think maybe the most, I don't want to say the rewarding part, but when I started, I would say, I really have it inherently from my parents, but I've always tried to have the philosophy of take the very best care of the person in front of you and don't worry about the rest of it. Obviously, there's a lot to worry about, but as far as taking really good care of that one client and the rest of it will fall into place.

And I think I try to instill that in my team too. I want to empower them if somebody's had to come back a couple of times or maybe the process hasn't been to the level that we hold ourselves to, how do you take the best care of their situation? Or you know they have their daughter's wedding and we're cutting it close to the timeframe, do we deliver to them so they have one less stress on their plate? Things like that. So I think doing that on a very micro level, I knew that in my gut that would pay off as far as establishing the brand. But seeing that happen over four years, I think it’s so rewarding to see that it has actually worked and that it's made people, I would say, raving fans, not just... We don't want to just be a transaction. You can go buy a suit anywhere.

I think the surprising part of that is how we have become a part of people's lives. I think it's more that they welcome us in. I am like that with most people, but I can think of stories of clients who've called and said, “Hey, I quit my job, and I have a job interview and I'm making this big career change.” I'm like, “Why are you calling to tell me this? But this is great. I'm super excited to be part of it.” But I think that's been the unexpected part, how the energy is reciprocated. They just want to come hang out on our couch.

Then I think probably the other piece I would say as a business owner — this is going in a different direction, but I maybe had to be reminded of how precious that is and how important it is to protect it. And I think not taking that lightly as we scale and as we hire, that's probably the single most important thing I can do in training. What's my non-negotiable? I think about how fast that can be taken away. That's probably the unexpected part. That's the hard part.

Chris: Man, it's a real thing. Well, what made you pick this go-to market? If you think about it, they are selling to individuals, but then they're selling through individuals and getting access to a corporate gift. How did you get that started and start to create those kinds of inroads?

Lauren: Yeah, so on the corporate side or the gifting side, of which we do a lot of, I would say experiences… So exactly what you said, we do it with wedding parties, client gifts if you want to treat your top clients, something unique, obviously staff, etc. So we do a lot of that more than probably we talk about, but it's happened very organically. So it really ultimately was our client. Somebody comes in, it's probably how everything works, and they buy suits for themselves. Then they say, “Hey, we'd really like to have you do our sales incentive program.” And you're like, “Oh, I didn't think about that.”

So it's been very client-driven as far as creating awareness for those options. Then I would say the model has also shifted because, like I said, I started thinking it would be all online. If anybody's familiar with Indochino, they were the big name at the time I started, and I'd say I was modeling after them. But I quickly learned that the people I was dealing with wanted the personal touch and they wanted to be measured personally and so I shifted.

So I would say it's been just about responding. I try not to be too reactive, but I think it's been really important to listen. And I still try to do this, but I definitely did those first few years of like, OK, yes, there's this product. I knew I needed the product, but ultimately I was really trying to listen to the things people were saying. Why are they sending people here? What is it that's sticking with them? And that's how I built it. So even our space, the space we're in now, was a converted condo. If I would've opened my doors with a retail space, I would not have done a condo.

But we started in a co-working space because that's all I could afford. I started small and I think I did the reverse. I'm going to try to do this in other cities, but here it was more... I was fitting people in parking lots. And I remember being like, “OK, there's got to be something that they're coming for to be willing to have me measure them in a parking lot,” when I was early, before I had a space because I didn't have a retail space.

Then we went into the co-working space and it was just constantly adapting. What was making people feel welcome and comfortable and let their walls down? Because in a way it's kind of, not all of it, but some of it can get very... We hear some stories, it's almost like you're the hairdresser with your therapy for, “I'm going through a divorce,” or just all these situations. There are deeper things they're coming to us for. So that's led us to create more of almost like a living room, comfortable feeling. So again, I would've never started there, but now that's the model we're taking. So just listening, I would say, is probably the biggest thing.

Successfully managing teams

Chris: Well, what's the one thing that as you have operated your business, what's one of the things you would do differently today knowing what you know now?

Lauren: I think me getting myself out of the way is probably... Not meaning not being present, but yeah, I think I probably am the biggest, I would say, throttle on the business. So I don't know if that's like... I think some of that is about trusting others. I have a great team around me and I think they've helped push those off. But sometimes I get so worried about putting work on other people that I actually don't give them a chance to step up.

Chris: Yeah. Well, maybe as a leader, what have you discovered as your superpower?

Lauren: I think that's a good question. I think probably really getting to know people and asking deeper questions, and maybe not even have to ask, obviously it has to benefit the business, but how do I put people in the right spot that lights them up every day? I think I have a very good, I don't want to say read on people, but I think I know when to ask questions, or I think I ask good, probing questions to really get to the depth of, "What motivates you?”, etc.

So I think the relationship side of it, of where do they want to be in five, 10 years? What's their career? And what days are they struggling, and how can I help them when they're struggling? So I think that piece, probably the emotional intelligence is probably, I'd say, my superpower. I think I'm very good with people.

Encouraging entrepreneurs to leap into the unknown

Chris: Well, we learn a lot as entrepreneurs going through the process. What would you say to entrepreneurs who want to step into a new industry or business, but they're not sure how to make the leap?

Lauren: You can do it.

Chris: Yeah.

Lauren: No, I would say I don't think I intended to go down this path, but I think my story of coming from pharmacy to fashion and clothing, sometimes I don't even think of myself as being in fashion. I actually went to speak at Oklahoma State, which has a fashion program, and I was like, “Why are they having me come speak? I'm not in fashion.” I was like, “No, I guess I do own a clothing business.” So I think there’s some of that imposter syndrome, but making that jump from pharmacy to clothing, I always encourage people, if you really want to learn something, you can learn it. It's not like I was born in pharmacy, I had to learn that industry just as much as I have to learn this one. So I think there’s that fear of, “Well, I don't know it.”

And I think the other thing too is the mentality of, “Well, why isn't somebody else doing it?” Which I ask the same question of, “Well, if there's such a market, why isn't somebody else doing it?” I ask that question a lot. But I think you can still carve out space and do something different or do it better. So I think that would be my other piece.

And then really, I would say it's harder than you think it's going to be, and it's more rewarding than you think it's going to be, so I would say, I think there's a lot of people who say, “I want to be an entrepreneur, but do you really have the stomach for it?” Like, “Really, are you going to commit? Are you going to grind day in and day out to get there? And if you are...” It's not like every day is a grind, but you know what I'm saying, “Are you going to do the work to learn?” Because it's very learnable. Like I said, the joke is you can Google anything, you can find courses, you can read books, you can ask.

So I just don't think that that fear of, “Well, I've always been in oil and gas,” or, “I've always been in banking,” makes sense. Like, “Go learn it. Why not? You bring something unique to the table.” I think my experience in pharmacy… is it directly related? No, but I also think there are a lot of tangible skills that I can look back on and so many things from that period of my career. And at the end of the day, it's still business, and we were helping small businesses —I was helping independent pharmacies. So yes, there was a very niche clinical piece to it, but it's not that different. So I think just encouraging people to take the leap and if they're willing to put the commitment in, “Go and do it, you can learn it.”

And it's fun. I think it's fun to learn something new. It's like going back to the idea that it doesn't scare me anymore. I hope I do William & Lauren for the rest of my life, but I am not worried about “what if” anymore because I've pivoted once. I could do it again if I needed to, I could learn something else.

Rapid-fire questions

Chris: That's good. Well, I have some rapid-fire questions for you now.

Lauren: OK.

Chris: Who is William?

Lauren: I did have an early co-founder, so I've got to give a shout-out to the William.

Chris: There you go.

Lauren: The Will. His name's Will though, so that's where the name came from. Early co-founder, he's not involved in the business anymore, we're still good friends.

Chris: What's the most unexpected place you've drawn fashion inspiration from?

Lauren: Most unexpected place? I would say sports, probably.

Chris: If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Lauren: What I'm in right now, a blazer and a pair of jeans.

Chris: All right, there you go.

Lauren: That's comfortable.

Chris: Same.

Lauren: Yeah.

Chris: What's the number one fashion mistake you see men making?

Lauren: Their clothes are too big.

Chris: Oh, yeah. What about women?

Lauren: Probably the same. The saggy bottoms and the long... I'm not saying it has to be tight, but yeah, I think it's the mentality of, “If I wear my clothes bigger, I'll look smaller,” but that's not the case.

Chris: What is your favorite travel destination and have you ever drawn some clothing designs from there?

Lauren: Yes, absolutely. I just got back from London recently, so I'm going to pick London. We had a wonderful time. And yes, I think travel is the easy inspiration for fashion, what are people wearing elsewhere.

Chris: All right, well since you love beer, from what I hear, according to your Instagram page, do you have a favorite beer and maybe a food-pairing recommendation?

Lauren: Type of beer is probably Hefeweizen, I'm probably saying that wrong for all the actual beer people. Food pairing? We just had the Holt my Beer at Stonecloud, so shout out to Mayor Holt with the Fair-Weather Friends burger, that was a great pairing.

Chris: There you go.

Lauren: So a burger and a beer is hard to beat.

Chris: Yeah, that's good. Well, who's another entrepreneur who's inspired you that should be on the podcast?

Lauren: Oh, well if you can get her, I'd love to meet her, but Sara Blakely with Spanx is definitely I would say my biggest... obviously very direct comparison, so if you have her, let me know.

Chris: Yeah, it'd be amazing to have her. Well, what's next for you?

Lauren: Yeah, I think growth. I think growing William & Lauren. So we're at the stage of really scaling now, so opening some more locations. And I'd say going from being a one-location business to multiple locations, so scaling is the next challenge.

Chris: That's the next great adventure. Well, hey, Lauren, thanks so much for coming to the studio, appreciate you a lot, and it's great to get to know you.

Lauren: Awesome. Thanks for having me.


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