Bonjour, cuties! I’m feeling very French after just getting home from a wonderful vacation in France with my children! Though it was oh-so-sad to say au revoir to the chic streets of Paris, Brittany, and Honfleur (be on the lookout for a travel recap post shortly), I’m thrilled to be back on the East end because we have some can’t-miss in-store events and happenings coming up at Kathy Kuo Home Southampton. First up? I have news to share about one of my favorite handbag brands, Neely & Chloe!
Launched by sisters Neely Burch and Chloe Burch (and yes, that’s “Burch” as in their aunt Tory) in 2016, Neely & Chloe is an effortlessly chic line of handbags and accessories with quality and craftsmanship at its core. All the premium leathers used in their products are from in Spain and Portugal, and every silhouette is truly timeless. Starting this summer, KKH Southampton will become the exclusive Hamptons retailer of Neely & Chloe’s new collection, a very special collaboration with Ariel Okin (one of my fave interior designers in the game!) and we’re thrilled to be hosting a Q&A panel with Neely and Chloe in-store (30 Jobs Lane) on August 10, 2021, from 4:30-6pm.
The panel will touch on how the sisters built their business, the joys and challenges of being female founders, how they design their bags, and the launch of their newest collection…and of course we’ll be hosting a cocktail hour as well (#RoséAllDay).
Anyone who knows me knows that after interior design and home furnishings, two of my biggest passions are fashion and supporting fellow female entrepreneurs, so this partnership is a match made in handbag heaven. To give you more insight into the Neely & Chloe brand and to give you a sneak peek at what you can expect to see in-store this summer, my team and I caught up with the style-savvy sisters. Read on to learn more!
Shop Our Ariel Okin x N&C Favorites
For any of our readers who aren’t yet familiar with the brand, could you tell me a bit about how Neely & Chloe came to be–what are some of the touch-points that brought the company to where it is today?
Neely: For those who don’t know, we’re sisters! And now, business partners. In our house, we always (I mean always) talked a lot about fashion and about entrepreneurship. Ideas and building things with your own two hands were not only welcome, but (usually to our teenage dismay!) required. I began my career in the art world while Chloe was a merchant J.Crew. in 2014, I broke out on my own and after a little convincing, Chloe jumped ship in the fall of 2015. We began work on Neely & Chloe and launched one year later.
The brand really emerged from personal experiences… we were 22 and 23, trying to make it work in New York City in creative fields… Why couldn’t we find beautiful bags we could afford! We wanted to create something that felt aspirational, yet attainable. We wanted to build a product at a price point that felt accessible, that could be folded into your lifestyle more than once in a blue moon. We knew it was important to create a story and, in turn, a brand that our customers could connect with. In September of 2016, we launched Neely & Chloe on our core pillars of quality, timeless style, and transparency, which are still an integral part of our brand today.
What’s it like being co-founders together and also sisters? What do you each individually bring to the business?
Chloe: For us it’s hard to imagine having it any other way. Not only do we know each other incredibly well, but our life long relationship leaves little room for concern about overstepping or feather ruffling. We’re able to lay all our ideas, thoughts and opinions on the table without a second thought.
Another key reason our partnership has been so seamless is our complementary strengths and weaknesses. Neely and I are sisters and friends, but we’re also very different in terms of our core personalities and how those translate into our skill sets as business owners. I’m definitely more detail-oriented and make sure we’re staying on track. I manage our wholesale business, production and development and most things that require constant communication.
Neely is much better at thinking of the bigger picture– where we’re going to be in one, two or five years. She’s good at handling the broader scope of the business and what we should be focusing on down the line. The combination of the two is really important and something that, luckily, came very naturally for the both of us.
Neely: At one point we were sisters, co-founders, and roommates! Our relationship style is very off the cuff, leave it all on the table. When something bothers us, we can talk all about it, and there might be a spat, but then we’ll move on and say: “I love you, you love me, but we’ve got a meeting to go to, so let’s put this behind us.” That’s really helped us–being completely transparent with one another, there’s never anything brewing under the surface.
The brand is full of very classic silhouettes, but there’s also a lot of whimsy with the customization options and the hand-paining. What was your process like in deciding how your core assortment of designs would look?
Chloe: It took some time! When we launched we started with 12 silhouettes of handbags and accessories and there are a few key pieces from that very first season that are still with us today: The Small Tote, the Mini Lady Bag, and the Cosmetic Case. We’re proud of those early stars because they remind us that those core N&C ideals still ring true nearly five years later. But don’t let us fool you–there were definitely some dogs! It was a learning process.
Today, we have around 10 silhouettes that are best-sellers, known as our “core” product offering. Historically, we have interspersed this with seasonal newness developed internally. But in 2021, we decided to mix things up! This past March, we launched our first collaborative print with Julia Berolzheimer. It was a dream to work in collaboration with another female creative. I think we were all blown away by the success of the partnership. We have just launched our second with the very stylish Ariel Okin! Now if only we could convince her to whip our houses into shape!
Neely: We’ve worked very hard over our first five years to perfect these core, best-selling silhouettes but we’ve alway been a little scared of pattern work. There are so many talented women out there who it comes to so naturally… why not work together to create an even more alluring product full of newness and novelty? To partner with other women like Ariel or Julia, who integrate pattern and color into their lives so effortlessly, has been such fun. To see our product serving as a jumping off point, or the blank canvas feels like so much is coming full circle…it’s like a large-scale iteration of the customization that has become so synonymous with N&C.
We had hoped for women to be able to put their very own personal touch on our product so when you unwrapped that box, you really felt like it was crafted just for you. For us, fashion is all about core basics with a touch of flare–as our oh so chic mama taught us. You take these building blocks that are beautiful and timeless and can be used over and over and iterated on in so many different ways, then you find a way to put a twist on it–whether that’s adding an accessory to a crisp white button down and jeans (as our Mom taught us to do) or adding personalization onto your Neely & Chloe bag.
Shop Our Fave Classic Neely & Chloe Looks:
Tell us about your partnership with Ariel Okin. What should shoppers know about this new collaboration?
Neely: Ariel is an incredibly talented interior designer, whom we’ve gotten to know through the New York entrepreneurship gang. Also, a fellow Philadelphian, another fun connection. She has done some amazing interior design projects– so worth browsing if you’re not familiar! We’ve been such a fan of Ariel’s work for a long time, so when conversations started developing, it felt like a very organic and like-minded partnership.
We worked in partnership with Ariel and Larsen McDowell, another talent!, to develop three prints in really fun, beautiful colors for the summer that will really translate seamlessly into the fall. They’re whimsical and full of life, but also very thoughtful and functional. We recreated the outside of our canvas products in a coated material so that they’re more durable and you can beat them up and all those pesky stains will roll right off! We really wanted to create a collection together that channeled Ariel’s interior sensibility in a way that felt approachable and fun for everyone!
We are so excited to be the exclusive Hamptons retailer of Neely & Chloe’s new collection at our Southampton store. At KKH we love working with female-founded brands, especially others in creative fields, so working with you and your brand made perfect sense. On your end, what made KKH a good fit for you as a retail partner?
Chloe: First and foremost, we love working with female-founded brands. Any beyond that, after working with Ariel and dipping our toe into the interiors world, this felt like such a natural extension! The aesthetic and level of subtle, approachable sophistication that Kathy Kuo Home brings to the table in the interior design world made it feel like the perfect home base for Ariel Okin x Neely & Chloe. This is our first foray into the interior space but we’re already feeling the positive energy from our consumers, it’s already starting to feel like home.
Neely: And on that note…this has been a very unique year and a half for all of us. It has so many thinking, “Wow, my house has to serve as such a bigger force in my life than it has previously.” Our core customers–women in their mid to late 20s to their late 40s– are diving head first into the world of home interiors. It’s something we feel organically in our own lives… I’m moving into my first house, Chloe’s got her first grown up apartment in the city with her husband (Ikea furniture no more!). The more we share this part of our lives with our customers, the more they want to know. So, partnering with an interior designer and working with Kathy Kuo Home–a home brand that serves as such a guiding light for so many women–just all feels very fitting.
Chloe and I have been trying to be better at sharing a little bit from a tastemaker perspective and we get so much engagement and enthusiasm when we’re willing to share that part of our lives with our followers. So, partnering with an interior designer and working with Kathy Kuo Home–an amazing home brand that serves as such a guiding light for so many women–just all feels very organic.
Shop Our Ariel Okin x N&C Favorites
We’re thrilled to be hosting a Q&A event with you in-store on August 10. Any sneak peek info you could share about what attendees can expect from the panel discussion?
Chloe: We’re really excited about the event! I think it’s so special to have us as founders and then Kathy there to talk through everything from starting a business and running a business to what the future has in store! I know Kathy Kuo Home will have products in-store, and we’ll be bringing some additional product. I’ve heard there will be a little vino too– what else do we need for a good time!
Neely: It will be one of our very first events in the past year and a half! And boy are we ready! As always, we’re excited to give people the opportunity to touch and feel our products, and to particularly get a first look at this new line with Ariel Okin. There’s always so much fun to be had when you throw a few creative women together and chat! We cant wait!