Women of Style: Stephanie Von Watzdorf

by The Zoe Report

Stephanie von Watzdorf has a resume that will leave you with your jaw on the floor. And with her rapidly growing lifestyle brand Figue, eclectic personal style and a very inspirational life perspective, she is the true embodiment of a Woman of Style. Stephanie is always kind and a gracious leader – she is that woman who remembers your name, looks you in the eye when speaking to you and is the first to offer her help. It is such an honor to share her wisdom with you. –Mandana Dayani

Stephanie in Morocco. Photo: Courtesy

Her first job in fashion… “I had two internships that sparked my passion for this business. When I was 16, I interned with Victor Edelstein, a couture designer in London. Then I did a long internship with Yves Saint Laurent in Paris soon after. I consider those my first “jobs,” but in terms of being hired on full-time, my first was at Giorgio Armani in Milan.”

Her favorite memories from YSL… “I remember standing in a room organizing all the jewelry trays for Loulou de la Falaise as we were prepping for the spring show. Also, helping the team set up “28 Years of Creation” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs; sewing the vintage pieces and dressing the mannequins. It was the most memorable experience.”

Her typical work day… “I like to make sure to have some kind of gym time in the morning to clear my head. I keep my mornings free for any design-related meetings and brainstorming. I always like to break at lunch, and I encourage my team to do the same so that they engage in things other than work. Afternoons are for business-related issues and appointments with artisans and manufacturers.”

“As creative director and founder of this company, my job is multi-faceted and complex. I do have incredibly smart, talented and witty people working with me so it is not all on my shoulders. My mind is constantly in motion and that is part of what this job is—thinking 20 steps ahead to what is next.”

Stephanie’s career advice: “Follow your gut.” Photo: via @figuelove on Instagram.

On deciding to launch her own line… “First, I had to focus on my mission and the vision—that had to be crystal clear in my mind so that I could communicate it to others. I also knew that it was imperative to find someone with a very strong business sense and background to help me run it.”

“I wanted to create a lifestyle line that did not follow the usual fashion calendar and rules — a line that would be considered seasonless, easy and bohemian-spirited. For example, anything you buy from Figue in the spring season can be worn in the fall with layers. I wanted to have a line that simulated that modern way of thinking.”

“I also can’t imagine designing clothes without thinking about accessories, which is part of the line as well. I love the idea of celebrating artisans and their time-honored traditions. Our sweaters are made in Bolivia, we have one-of-kind accessories, unusual objets and military jackets that we’ve sourced from around the world.”

Global-inspired printed pieces, reworked military jackets and limited edition jewelry are core items in the line. Photo: via Figue.com

Her biggest career challenge… “Raising money is a very difficult endeavor. There is an art form to it, and it is not something that I knew about going in. I could not do it without my COO, Sabina Schlumberger.”

Her Figue favorites… “I always want a new military jacket because we’re making new ones all of the time. I am obsessed. Also, the Aponi Medicine Pouch and the Julia dress in Peacock Palm from our fall collection.”

A Figue military jacket spotted on Kirna Zabete’s ‘ShopGirl’ blog. Photo: via @figuelove and @kirnazabete on Instagram.

The fashion mistake she hates to see women make… “I don’t like the word “hate,” so I’ll say it disappoints me when women undervalue their power and don’t take risks.”

Her fashion role model… “I have to say Dries Van Noten is one of my all-time role models. He is one of my favorite designers. I admire his art, his creations and the way he runs his business. He always does what he loves.”

Dries Van Noten, Fall 2013. Photos: via Style.com

Her perfect job-interview outfit… “Anything in head-to-toe navy. I think that it looks chic and pulled together. For example: a fitted navy blazer with a navy t-shirt, navy skinny jeans, navy booties, an amazing piece of statement jewelry, and a fabulous tote bag with distinct personality that’s not matching. Also, wear a delicious perfume. You should always go in smelling fresh and clean. People always remember you by your smell.”

Stephanie’s perfect interview outfit, interpreted by The Zoe Report. Clockwise from top left: Figue necklace, Stella McCartney Blazer, Weekend by MaxMara jeans, Figue bracelet, Tory Burch booties.

On her personal uniform… “I always wear chunky statement jewelry, layered. I like to be comfortable and mix and match everything. I also always have a pashmina with me because I never know when I am going to be cold.”

How she balances work and personal life… “I made a rule to be out of the office by 8 o’clock for dinner so I can meet with family and friends and get a little bit of downtime. I could not do this business without the incredible support of my family and friends. I believe that if you can’t get everything done in a 5-day workweek, something needs to be eliminated. I try to find time for myself, whether it is taking a walk on the pier with my dogs or getting a massage. It is very important to achieve the balance.”

Photo: via @figuelove on Instagram.

How she recovers from a long day at work… “I have a glass of wine, and a bath with Epsom salts mixed with Tibetan musk.”

Advice she’d give her 25-year-old self… “This is not something you can do on your own. You need people who can support you and work and evolve with you, especially if you want to start your own company.”