We had the good fortune of connecting with CAREN LETTIERE and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi CAREN, what do you attribute your success to?
I consider myself to be intuitive and believe that’s an essential element to my success as a brand leader. It’s as if I have an ear to the ground and I’m a conduit, using my personal experience to understand the needs of what the consumer wants and how to interpret that through product. Because the foundation of my fashion career began in sales, I also have the ability to analyze our sales performance, interpret what that potential means on a larger scale,
and distribute it as a creative product into multiple channels of the consumer retail space. The ability to integrate gut instinct about how women feel and merge that with style accessibility, and the resonant messaging to convey it all, is a unique skill set. All these practices that I utilize in the work space are also critical to my success in life in general. I believe you have to be able to embrace what’s out there. You have to enhance what life presents to you. You want to elevate all that’s in your path. If you can’t continue to pay attention, evolve, and grow, then you’re stagnant. There’s no such thing as perfection or arriving at your destination. If we don’t improve, change, modify and adapt, the journey is over. I think that stamina, the desire and willingness to constantly self-reflect and to acquire other skill sets, has enabled me to navigate in the world with passion and purpose. These practices have enabled me to thrive as an individual, mother, wife, friend and founder of a truly unique and successful brand.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
When I launched Democracy, real women and real bodies weren’t a mainstream focus of the industry and brands only cared about the idealized 25-year-old women. Democracy Clothing was created in response to the void I identified with personally as a woman and as a representative of my peer group… women who grew up with fashion but then got busy with life. I was living in my post-baby body and I realized that once you have a kid you’re forever
living in that post-baby body. Multitasking women like myself have so much on their plate…from working to making time for exercise and eating healthy to being a present and loving wife, mother and friend. It is such a struggle to juggle all of these roles and responsibilities, without losing our identity as a person.
I was fortunate to already be working in the fashion industry when I came up with the idea and purpose for launching Democracy. At that time, I was responsible for a brand that was geared towards a young contemporary customer. I knew what all of the current fashion trends were
but couldn’t find anything that was appropriate or accessible to me, which fit both my body and my wallet. I had no prior experience in the Denim Casual Lifestyle space, but I was certain of what I wanted and needed, and was convinced that other women were feeling the same way.
I don’t believe there should be an expiration date on fashion—style is a forever thing. Women are vital and as long as they have a desire to look modern and current there should be a brand that they can trust to guide them. Democracy is the brand that sees them, identifies with them, supports them and gives them access to fashion. As a woman, I know that trying on a pair of jeans can be the most terrifying, ego deflating experience and we wanted to change that. So we
set out to create a luxurious and comfortable jean by fusing together style and technology and the “Ab” solution fit technology was born.
Most importantly, we were one of the originators in the space of size inclusivity, instilling confidence in women of all shapes and sizes with jeans and clothing designed to embrace, enhance and flatter while showcasing a woman’s natural shape. The anchor to Democracy is not only the fit technology, but also the amazing fabrics that are soft and stretchy, and fit every single type of shape. This was the greatest catalyst for the brand and once women started to
identify the difference in our jeans, it became life-changing for them. When women find Democracy they become devoted advocates for the brand. That is beyond gratifying to me, and when I hear how Democracy jeans have changed their denim struggles it is the ultimate compliment.
Eleven years ago we were the brand that stepped out and said that we want to represent inclusivity for women and we understand that it’s more than just the size. To me it is about acceptance and feeling relevant. This is the most validating feeling. Inclusivity can’t just be a new tagline or marketing slogan. It is about caring about the challenges ALL women have. We all have different types of body shapes and we all need to be empowered and have confidence. My goal is that Democracy continues to be the go to brand that women trust to
introduce them to fashion that empowers them to feel good while looking good..
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Los Angeles. I grew up here and I appreciate the lifestyle, diversity, culture and sheer size. We are so fortunate to live in a place where you can literally visit the desert, the mountains and
the ocean all in one day. I never take for granted everything that is accessible to us and I try to
explore whenever possible. When thinking about this question, I realized that I could never sum
it up in just a few places, so I would probably recommend someone take the week off and go to
all these places with me!
● Brentwood Farmers Market every Sunday
● Santa Monica Farmers Market on Saturday for Harrie’s Berry’s
● Malibu Cross Creek for Lunch at Malibu Farm
● Wine tasting at Malibu Wines
● Getty Villa Museum
● Palisades Village
● Shopping on Abbott Kinney and Montana Avenue
● Santa Monica Pier
● Getty Museum
● Broad Museum
● Grand Central Market
● DTLA Art’s District
● Hiking at Will Rodgers State Park
● Strolling around Beverly Hills
● Polo Lounge for the McCarthy Salad
● Sprinkles Cupcakes
● Show and picnic at Hollywood Bowl
● Dodger Game
● Day trip to Laguna Beach
● Train ride for a day in Santa Barbara
● Rent a wheel and make pottery at Still Life Ceramics
● Mama Shelter Roof Top Bar in Hollywood
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a shout out to the entire Democracy team who are integral to the success and evolution of the brand. There is risk involved, when you start with something that’s so small, that’s such a seed from your own soul, and invite people in. When I took my idea and put it out
there, so many incredible people joined alongside me, to shape and mold it and to contribute toward it. To watch this brand vision start from within me, and to witness so many people touch the process along the way, adding so much value and love to it, without changing it’s desired intent, has been extraordinary. As we’ve launched the e-commerce site and are expanding our reach, I’m often the person who steps into the forefront as the brand founder.
I’m appreciative of this opportunity to shine a light on my whole team and acknowledge the devoted members who work tirelessly to make such a difference in people’s lives through our clothing.