La Fille Colette
We’re always on the lookout for inspiring women who take risks in both personal life and work. When you look around, it’s pretty amazing to see how many companies are popping up with women at the helm.
I was recently introduced to Colette Chretien who designs fun, versatile dresses that are ethically made in the USA for her line La Fille Colette. You’ll find a mix of short, casual dresses and longer occasional gowns. Personally, I am drawn to the fun colors and silhouettes.
We caught up with Colette to learn more about her business, what a typical day looks like, and her favorite spots in town.
Tell us a little bit about La Fille Colette. How did you start? What is your background?
La Fille Colette is a collection of dresses that is ethically and locally-made in Massachusetts. I started the company after deciding to pursue my basically life-long dream of being a fashion designer. Specifically, I wanted to make dresses that are versatile, really easy to wear, but not basic or boring. Our dresses are fun, attention-grabbers, but they’re also really comfortable, so that balance was very important to me.
My background is in fine art. I’ve studied painting, drawing, and art history throughout my education, and believe that all the visual arts can inform and play off each other in interesting ways. Fashion has always been a love of mine and started as a hobby. When I was 16 I started designing and making my own dresses for all the major events I had coming up, and I just fell in love with the process.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My most fun days are those spent designing, at fittings, visiting stores, at photo shoots, or fashion shows, but typically, I’m on my computer the majority of the time. I wear a lot of the hats when it comes to running the business, so I’m constantly switching gears between emails, spreadsheets, research, social media, etc.
We love that your dresses are made in the USA. How important was that to you?
Once I got serious about starting La Fille Colette, and researching the fashion industry in general, it became apparent to me just how harmful the industry is to the people behind it as well as the planet. The US certainly isn’t perfect when it comes to labor and environmental practices, but I made the decision that I wanted our apparel production to happen as locally and ethically as possible. Manufacturing an hour and a half away from where I live means that I can visit our production facility often, communicate with them easily, and really see for myself how things are run. It’s also important to me to contribute to the revitalization and re-shoring of the garment industry in America, which at one point was a huge source of employment.
When you have a day off, what do you do?
If I’m taking a day off, it’s usually because I’m traveling. In the past few months, I was lucky enough to visit Hawaii for the first time and go skiing in Utah. When I visit new places, La Fille Colette is always top of mind and I make a point to explore the local shops in search of new retail partnerships. I love discovering cute boutiques in other cities that I otherwise would never have known about.
What other Boston women and business owners do you admire?
Kathryn Hilderbrand, who oversees all of our production on Cape Cod, is a huge source of inspiration to me. Not only is she an accomplished business woman, but she is paving the way for sustainable apparel manufacturing in Massachusetts. It’s incredible what she’s accomplished already and what she has her sights set on for the future of this industry.
What’s next for La Fille Colette?
And a few quick questions about favorites in Boston:
Restaurant: The Beehive (we actually had our most recent photo shoot there!)
Neighborhood: South End
Cafe: Sound Bites in Somerville, a holdover from my Tufts days.
Clothing store: Too many! I love the vibe of the boutiques on Charles Street, and also anywhere that has unexpected vintage finds.
Place to walk: Anywhere along the Charles
To grab a drink with a friend: Saloon in Davis Square
For a special night out: Cuchi Cuchi in Cambridge – it’s the best place for a girls night!
Images courtesy of La Fille Colette.