Current/Elliott’s Founders Talk About Their 15-Year Business And Friendship — And Learning When To Walk Away

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It all started in a sociology class at UCLA. That’s where Current/Elliott founders Emily Current And Meritt Elliott first met. “We both wore vintage Levi’s … and discovered we grew up not too far from each other,” says Current. The rest, as they say, is fashion (and denim) history. Some 15 years and several successful brands later, the two are still as close as they were back then. These days, however, Current and Elliott are bonding over the launch of their latest brainchild: another namesake brand, Emily + Meritt.

“Our friendship is the inspiration behind it,” says Elliott. “Our careers have taken a lot of turns and twists, yet there’s always been this friendship. So we wanted to to create a brand that celebrated female empowerment, our love of fashion, and the connections with people we’ve met along the way.”

This lighthearted message is absolutely evident in the new lifestyle line, which features whimsical and colorful comfy apparel, paper goods, and accessories. From the soft, striped sweatshirts to the easy vintage-washed tees, each piece is marked with some sort of "friendly message," whether it be the word "mate" embroidered on the corner of a top or a sweet rainbow graphic at the waist of a pair of sweatpants.

Indeed, it’s been quite the journey for the two women. After that fateful course, the two were coincidentally seated next to each other at their college graduation ceremony. There, they proceeded to “talk the whole time and promised to do something together,” says Current. They started partnering on styling projects and eventually launched their first clothing company — the now iconic denim brand Current/Elliott — in 2008. The line became widespread for pioneering the, worn, vintage-looking “boyfriend jean” and quickly became a household name.

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Five years after launching the brand, Current and Elliott collectively left their namesake label in 2012, and have always kept mum about their exact reasonings for walking away. “When something is negative or unhealthy, don’t spend so much time on it,” Elliott says of the lessons she’s learned as an entrepreneur. “Move on. There are so many doors and so many opportunities to explore.”

The women wasted no time throwing open those doors and seizing said opportunities. They quickly readjusted their design hats and dove into collaborations with huge names like Kate Spade and Pottery Barn under the Emily + Meritt brand name. “We just started flexing our muscles and putting our own spin on lots of different industries,” says Current. They also launched another vintage-inspired apparel brand, the Great., which features effortless yet chic silhouettes and, of course, denim.

The beauty of their creative approach is that it’s equal parts Current and Elliott — and that has never wavered. "We don’t have this clear split in talents or ways of thinking,” says Current. “We both use our left and right brains similarly and work collectively on business challenges. If someone has on off day, then the other one steps up.” Elliott agrees, saying the two have always had a shared vision. “I’ve seen a lot of friendships amongst business partners not work out because of competition and conflict … for us, our friendship always comes first.”

Even their individual styles align and have molded even more over the years as the women spent more and more time together. While Elliott says she’s a bit more “tomboyish and casual” and Current more inclined to feminine touches like lace or a bright red lip, the two agree to having very similar sartorial sensibilities — too similar, at times. “We’ll text each other in the morning and say, ‘I’m wearing the floral pajama shirt today, don’t wear it,’” says Current.

In interacting with them, this harmonious and symbiotic relationship rings incredibly true as one can’t help but notice how encouraging and complimentary the two women are of each other. After some 15 years of working together, you’d think they’d tire of one another occasionally or at the very least have some sarcastic anecdotes to add. Nope. “Anything you’re able to do with a friend is just more fun, even if you’re working all day,” says Elliott. “If they bring out the best in you, that’s the person you should spend your days with.” Current concurs, saying: “During the highs, we high-five each other, and during the lows, we make sure to talk everything through.”

Well, it seems the women are definitely riding those highs at the moment as they usher in the new Emily + Meritt brand and continue to grow the increasingly popular the Great. When it comes to this dynamic duo, you honestly can’t help but think the sky’s the limit, and Current and Elliott would agree. According to Elliott: “I chose a really good work wife.”

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