Rivolt Accessories is an a-typical jewelry and accessories brand based out of Chicago. “Chicago is a city of dreamers,” says Ashley Kolln, co-designer of Rivolt Accessories. Their pieces reflect just that, dream like and free spirited. We discovered Rivolt right when they were starting out and started following them closely on, you guessed it, Instagram. They were brand new, which was awesome because that’s what The Not Found is about; discovery, inspiration, and exposing emerging designers. Since then they’ve already grown to be featured on a major album cover shoot, and a billboard in Chi-Town, which is to a lot to accomplish in just a year. The designers of Rivolt Accessories, Ashley Kolln and Michelle Finney, talked to us about their come up and what advice they would give to fellow emerging designers.
Rivolt is based out of Chicago, not a typical fashion capital, what kind of opportunities and outlets does this city offer emerging fashion businesses?
Chicago is one of the largest cities in america, and labeled the city of dreamers. Being a creative, driven city, people are always excited to hear about new business and what they will have to offer. Many people have hidden artistic talents and are always willing to help each other get on their feet. Networking and collaborations are a huge part of expanding our business in Chicago, and we are very excited about future partnerships with some of our talented co-workers. Networking is a huge part of our lives, and it has helped us land great opportunities including being featured in a celebrity album cover shoot and a major billboard in downtown Chicago.
You both mention in your bio’s that you currently work for major retail chains, what have these brands and companies taught you that you’ve brought to Rivolt?
When working for a major retailer we were able to see a multi-million dollar company in action. We learned a lot about the demographic and what the target market is looking for. We received a lot of feedback from customers, what they were looking for or what we were missing. Overall, not only what the customers were buying in store, but a great perspective on the operational side of inventory, distribution channels, and product pricing – what a company has to encounter to be successful.
Who is the Rivolt girl or boy? What is your target consumer/market? Where does your inspiration come from?
Our Rivolt girl is a free spirit, bold, daring in her fashion and how she adorns herself. She is a passionate dreamer who seizes the day by engaging in social activities and events. She values art, culture, and traveling. Her unique outlook on fashion draws her to purchase and wear unique pieces that she knows no one else has. Our consumer market is aimed at females, between the ages of 20-35, who lives in an urban environment, and works in a creative driven field. We find inspiration in the little things, whether it comes from traveling (specifically Asia & India), artwork, photography, or simply a tiny bead found at a hole in the wall store.
How much time do you devote to each part of your business? Trend research, production, social media, sourcing, etc? Which would you say is the toughest to keep up with and why?
We are constantly working on improving each part of this business. We are living in a world that is heavily impacted with social media, so we are constantly learning and helping to motivate each other with this. The toughest part of this business is the fact that we are currently living in two different cities in two different states. Michelle is a full time student and works as a Stylist on Michigan Ave. Ashley is a full time sales woman living out of Milwaukee, WI. Even with our hectic schedules, we always find time to develop our passion for our jewelry company.
What are your plans for Rivolt, where do you see your brand in the next year?
Our plans for Rivolt started out small with our idea to create custom, one of a kind, wearable artwork. Now we have plans to create a successful eCommerce business, with potential to expand into small boutiques throughout the country. Within the next year, we would like to have our website fully launched, with the option to request and purchase custom pieces at the click of your fingertips.
Do you plan on offering collections each season while maintaining your custom piece design or will Rivolt be more custom piece based? Although our main focus is creating custom pieces, we also plan on offering seasonal creations that we design ourselves. This gives our customers an idea of what our latest twist is on current market trends.
We love that Rivolt does not stick to just bracelets and necklaces but its more about ornamenting the body, what inspired you to stray away from the typical jewelry fashions?
We wanted to give the customer something unique that they cannot find at an everyday retailer. We wanted to woman that jewelry can go beyond the basics and can be worn to highlight different areas of the body. Jewelry is more than just a basic accessory, it can be an expression of style/personality.
What has been your toughest issue with starting your own brand?
Trying to find people who can help maximize your brand at little or no cost, when they are not yet familiar with your talents. We have had several occasions where people have not followed through when help was needed, so we have had to problem solve when it comes to areas of photography and videography. (both are areas that we are not familiar with)
What is some advice you would give newcomers, that maybe you wouldn’t receive in school, about starting your own brand from your own experience?
It is very important to stay inspired, stay current, and always make time to stay focused. There can be a lot of distractions, life can get hectic, but you need to really love the brand in order to have the discipline to keep moving forward in an ever changing market place. You will only get out, what you put in, and it is very hard work to achieve your own business.
We always ask our designers one question unrelated, what is your favorite hobby outside of fashion that you both do?
We both are big foodies and love to try new things, we love to learn about different cultures through tasting foods and exploring around different parts of the city we haven’t seen before. We also find it inspiring to meet people and find out about their hidden talents, you never know what somebody is capable of until you take the time to get to know them.
The ladies of Rivolt are clearly making a name for themselves, and have the drive to do so. With their a-typical, individualistic pieces they are creating a brand that is both memorable and will set them apart from the rest. We will be continuing to follow their rise as designers and can’t wait to see what else they create.