Create & Cultivate 100: Fashion: Olivia Palermo

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You may have been introduced to her on The City back in the day, but Olivia Palermo has since established herself as a fashion powerhouse.

The fashion mogul, who worked for Diane von Furstenberg and later in the accessories department at Elle on the hit MTV show, has spent the past decade solidifying herself as a creative director, stylist, and influential voice in the industry. She’s graced the pages of all the major mags, and she’s collaborated with a number of your favorite sophisticated brands—from Stuart Weitzman to Banana Republic. Given her clout and aspirational #OOTD styling, it’s no surprise Olivia has gone on to create a vast fashion-obsessed community built around her editorial work, curated shopping, and brand collaborations.

It’s not hard to get lost scrolling through her Instagram grid—and with almost 6 million followers, it’s also not difficult to see why her stamp of approval is worth its weight in gold to a brand. Her entrepreneurship, consistency, and bespoke style are just a few reasons to celebrate Olivia’s career—and a testament to why her name won’t be going away anytime soon.

You’re a street style icon. What goes into you picking an outfit for the day?

I pick my outfits based on my mood. Of course, particular environments call for particular styles of dress—you’re not going to wear denim to a black-tie function, after all—but even then, I really dress for what makes me feel confident and comfortable, first and foremost.

You work with a small team, but you’re doing big things. What do you look for in your team members in order to keep building your empire?

I like to think we’re small but mighty! And since we are quite small, having a “team player” mentality is crucial. When identifying new talent, I look for people with positive personalities that are forward-thinking and open-minded. I appreciate people that are caring, loving, and loyal, but at the end of the day, are really just good at their jobs and want to continue to grow and be successful both personally and professionally.

You were well-known in the fashion world before social media was as big as it is today. How has it impacted your career and brand in more recent years?

It is hard to believe but it has been 10 years since I first truly established myself in the fashion world. I am incredibly fortunate that the evolution of my career happened to coincide with the evolution of social media—it has certainly been an instrumental tool to grow my brand and has allowed me to only further amplify my other professional verticals. What initially began as sharing my thoughts and perspectives on fashion and style within my own network, social media gave me the opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge on an international scale. The more I would post—whether about fashion shows, Mr. Butler, or just things that spoke to me in a particular moment—the more I saw my audience grow and continue to engage. At some point along the way, I realized I had a platform to not only share about my life but to help inspire people to be the best version of themselves.

What about your career makes you feel the most fulfilled?

What I find most fulfilling at this stage of my career is developing a really wonderful team that, together, will build the next chapter of the Olivia Palermo brand. Seeing this element of the business evolve over just the past year has not only been rewarding professionally, but personally as well.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

It’s hard to really pinpoint one specific piece of advice that has resonated with me over the years as I have had the extremely good fortune of working with so many incredibly wise and talented people. I’m like a sponge! I love to learn and absorb from my peers in all facets of the industry.

What’s been the biggest highlight of your career to date?

The wonderful clients I have had the pleasure of collaborating with has definitely been a highlight of my career. The experience is different every time but equally rewarding, and I have certainly carried learning moments from each opportunity to the next. And of course, given my love for beautiful visuals, it is icing on the cake to have worked with so many incredible photographers.

Where does your passion/drive come from?

It’s a cliché, I know, but when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. And that is certainly the case for myself. I wake up each morning motivated at the prospect of this brand living up to its fullest potential.

Whose career really inspires you?

There are various different people whose careers I have admired over the years and have received much inspiration from:

Carolina Herrera, the epitome of grace and elegance who has gifted the world with timeless designs

Diane von Furstenberg, an icon who has paved a path for women in what is an industry very much dominated by men

Maria Grazia Chiuri, a trailblazer as the first female head designer for a heritage house like Dior

Victoria Beckham, a fighter who has defied misperceptions and stereotypes (a battle I can certainly relate to)

“I want inclusivity to be more prevalent—for genuine reasons and not just commercial ones.“

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Whose style do you love?

Besides the women I previously mentioned, I really love to take style inspiration from eclectic sources: everyday girls on the street that I observe in my travels and can incorporate elements of their style in my own, and the mature women of the Upper East Side of Manhattan who have a certain air of sophistication I have always admired.

What has been your biggest opportunity or challenge to date?

Misperceptions. Like anyone in the public eye, there are countless misunderstandings about what kind of person I am and confusion as to what it is that I actually do. I look forward to the year ahead and the exciting new ventures we have coming down the pipeline that will make things clearer.

What would you change about the fashion industry if you could?

While certainly a topic dujour, I think the fashion industry’s hesitance towards inclusivity is something I would hope to change. I want inclusivity to be more prevalent; however, for genuine reasons and not just commercial ones.

When you hit a bump or hurdle in your career, how do you find a new road + switch gears to find success?

By keeping a positive attitude and finding a learning moment in every difficult situation. It’s not always easy!

What’s next for you? What are you most excited for in 2019?

A lot! 2018 was a year of transition for myself, my team, and the brand. 2019 will see the launch of a completely revamped website that will offer the Olivia Palermo community a destination to help them be the best versions of themselves along with some really exciting collaborations with partners big and small I can’t wait to debut.