Backstage

  • Aubrie Pagano of Bow & Drape
  • Aubrie's latest favorite customer designs for Bow & Drape
  • 'Big hair, don't care' by Bow & Drape
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Apr 7, 2015

Aubrie Pagano

When Aubrie Pagano was choosing what to wear to attend a wedding with her then-boyfriend’s entire family, she couldn’t seem to find the right. “I asked myself, ‘Why isn’t there an option or way for women to express themselves without having to go to a tailor or designer,” said Pagano. “I started doing the research to figure out a solution for the mass market. First, we offered office-friendly apparel and then noticed our customers wanted basics with a lot of personality.” In 2012, Pagano’s e-commerce business, titled Bow & Drape, offered dresses in timeless silhouettes and customers would pick-and-choose colors, materials, lengths and trim details. Today, Harvard-alum Pagano is considered a Forbes 30-under-30 member and her business has transformed into a service for those looking to customize cozy basics and accessories with funny puns and cheeky embellishments.

We spoke with Pagano about her favorite customer-designed creations, what’s inspiring her right now and how she would design a sweatshirt or accessory for the hair-obsessed.


You were working in finance before starting Bow & Drape. Did you always have an interest in fashion?

I always tinkered with clothes and was always voted for best-dressed awards and silly things like that. But I never took it seriously or pursued it as a passion career-wise until I started my own business.

There are so many funny puns and trending phrases on Bow & Drape. What are some of your all-time favorites?

Definitely “You Had Me at Merlot.” I love dinosaurs and recently on our Instagram, we posted an applique of a dinosaur with the phrase “Wineosaur.” People always come up with new and fun stuff. It’s great to see how things culturally change over time. You have your finger on the pulse of what's happening. Now, everyone is talking about “on point” or “on fleek,” and six months ago it was all about the hashtag.

Who do you look up to?

As far as design, Jeremy Scott does a fantastic job infusing street and pop culture into high fashion. On a more personal level, I just had a dinner with Malia Mills and she was really incredible. She’s been in the industry for more than 20 years and was one of the first people to use images of women—real women—in her advertising. Now so many brands are incorporating that ethos, but I think she’s really stayed true to herself from the beginning. I really look up to her for that.

What's the creative process behind your collections each season?

It's a little bit of art and science. The nice thing about being online is we have a sense of how people are engaging with our products in real time. It's a merchandising view towards designing. But there’s also a very creative side to it where we look into personal things that surround and inspire me. I always try to come up with things that are relevant to our customers.

What are some tips for someone customizing with Bow & Drape for the first time?

Customers who visit our website either have a specific idea and they start creating it right away, or they browse our page of inspiration, which we curate ourselves. It’s a springboard for ideas that customers can riff on into something that’s unique and their own.

What’s your favorite customer-designed creation?

We just launched some fun new emoji embellishments, so it's been fun to see how our customers make sentences without using words and just using emojis. We also have a ’90s vibe going on. I love all of the references to Clueless that everyone is doing.

Tell us how social media plays a big role in your company.

Social media is one of our big avenues for discovery. Instagram is the new PR to reaching people, and it helps us to engage with customers by featuring their designs.

What's your hair care routine?

I recently dyed pieces of my hair. My bangs are half my natural color and half baby blue. I like to use paraben-free shampoo and conditioner. I try not to wash my hair every day and instead will use dry shampoo, depending on how I wake up and how crazy my bangs get. I also try to avoid heat to my hair whenever I can.

What are some trends for spring that you're excited about?

I’m excited that pastels are always in for spring. I also love the idea of bringing casual style to the workplace, like wearing short-sleeve sweatshirts and flats or sneakers. I think it's great that women can be comfortable in their own fashion choices for once.

Do you have any advice for those looking to start their own business or company?

I always say that you have to keep going at it. Don’t stop. When I first started my own business, people would tell me I’m crazy and that it wouldn’t work—it’s hard to ignore that. If I listened to the naysayers early on, or hit a roadblock and forgot about my goals, I definitely wouldn't be here talking to you! Dreams don't come true overnight. You have to work at them.

What sayings would you put on a Drape & Bow piece for a hairstylist?

Definitely a shirt or tote bag with the phrases “Big hair, don’t care,” “Trust me, I’m a hairstylist,” or “Love is in the hair.” I also think it would be hilarious to use one of our sequined troll dolls with the phrase “Hair on fleek.”
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