Since Towne & Reese announced its very first line, Co-Founders, Christi Pack (CP) and Jessica Stanfield (JS) are often asked how they went from a dream idea of offering affordable and stylish jewelry to the full-time reality of creating and distributing their line to retailers nationwide. Since there were a few questions even those of us in the office didn’t know the answers to, we decided to put their answers down in a top ten list we could share with the world.
When did you start Towne & Reese?
(CP) I was a sales rep for a handful of lines and called on gift boutiques. I saw firsthand the need for trendy but affordable jewelry. Not to mention, I personally shopped for statement necklaces and earrings and felt like I was spending a small fortune for the pieces I wanted. Jessica and I had previously worked together as Account Executives at an ad agency, and I knew she had the drive and smarts to help get a business like this off the ground and a personality that would make it fun!
(JS) I was still working in advertising but knew I was ready for a change. Christi called me on September 25, 2009 on my way home from getting Reese’s first hair cut and told me about her idea. I thought it was brilliant because I love jewelry but hated spending so much money on trends that would only last one season. I always admired Christi’s impeccable taste, so I knew anything she designed would be fabulous! She asked if I was up for seeing if we could make it work as a business and without hesitation, I said “yes!”
How did you come up with the name?
(CP) Jessica came up with the name and it was perfect!
(JS) During one of our midnight work sessions, we realized we needed a name for the company. We threw out a couple of ideas that were worthless and said we’d think about it more the next day when we were fresh. The next morning it hit me: we should use the girls’ names. I called Christi and suggested “Towne & Reese” and that was that.
What past experiences have helped you make Towne & Reese successful?
(JS) Since high school when I interned for a neighbor’s small PR firm, I’ve always had an interest and passion for marketing, business and entrepreneurship. After college, and several years of experience in larger advertising agencies, I accepted a job as the second employee of a start-up ad agency. Over nine years I helped them grow from a small business with a handful of employees into mid-sized, national agency. As a part of the management team, I saw all of the ups and downs of running a company. I loved it—but it made me want to do it on my own and be the person making the final decisions. I think both Christi and I’s backgrounds in marketing have been invaluable in helping us creating our brand.
(CP) I have always needed a creative outlet and have been interested in fashion and interior design since I can remember. But that was always a hobby for me. My schooling was in marketing and management. When I graduated from college, I pursued a career in advertising and learned the importance of building a brand. I knew that I ultimately wanted to do my own thing and always dreamed of what that would turn into one day. Towne & Reese has given me the opportunity to combine all of my interests and has been an amazing journey that I’m so thankful for.
How would you describe your partnership as Co-Founders and Co-Owners?
(JS) Christi and I have worked really hard for all that we have and we’ve also had some lucky breaks along the way. What I think we knew at some level—but didn’t fully realize the importance of when we began the business—is that we have a mutual work ethic and respect for the other one’s talent. We are both incredibility driven and are always thinking, working on an idea, but on our own schedules. We also have very clear lines drawn for our responsibilities based on our talents and we really respect those. We never waste time trying to do the other one’s job. Of course, we both give input on the other one’s decisions, but we trust each implicitly and never question each other’s judgment. I believe this is the key to our success.
(CP) We have a wonderful partnership that we’re both so grateful for. When we first started we were friends but now we (and our families) are best friends. We have different strengths that honestly work out perfectly for the partnership and make the division of roles and responsibilities pretty easy. We respect each other’s strengths 100% and make a great team!
What question are you asked the most about Towne & Reese?
(CP) I get asked about my day a lot. Do I go into the office very much? Do I work from home?, etc. The answer to that is: we are in the office every day going 100 mph. We have to-do lists that multiply as soon as one thing is checked off. There is so much that is fun about what we do – I mean, we work with jewelry in an office full of fun girls, what more could a woman ask for? But we work really hard and spend a lot of hours on our computers in the office and after the kids go to sleep to make it all happen.
(JS) Since Emily Maynard has been wearing so much our jewelry on this season’s The Bachelorette, lately I get the most questions about her. I will say, we have met with Emily on a few occasions. She is incredibly down-to-earth, gracious and beautiful. However, I can assure you we do not have the inside scoop on the show or who she will choose! We also get asked about balancing our work life and family life. I wish we had the perfect answer to that question but it is a constant struggle and balancing act. I think we are both extremely fortunate to have a career we love, children we adore and very supportive spouses and support systems but it is never easy. I always say that the “perfect balance” is the one that drives you the least crazy and makes you the happiest but it will never be perfect!
Where do you find inspiration for creating new lines?
(CP) I look at everything differently now. I’m constantly on the hunt for inspiration. I definitely check out all the fashion and celebrity magazines and blogs, walk the jewelry counter in every store I visit and of course, study the season trends. Jessica and I also go to flea markets throughout the year where we find inspiration from everything vintage. I also pay attention to what other people wear and how they express themselves. There are ideas everywhere.
(JS) Yes, everywhere! We get a lot of inspiration from watching the seasonal trends, fashion magazines and clothing designers we admire, but we also get inspiration from personal pieces we love. We designed a bracelet two seasons ago that was inspired by a bracelet my mother-in-law received from her grandmother. Christi is the guru of all design and aesthetics for Towne & Reese, so that is really her area of expertise. But when I do give my input, I think I bring a slightly different perspective. I LOVE color – turquoise, coral, green, yellow, etc. and am probably a bit more traditional and less edgy than she is. We are a good balance.
What’s the process you go through to name your jewelry?
(CP) We name all of our pieces for our friends’ daughters. We compile all of the new names each season, think about the personality and style of the child and the mother, and pick out a name for each piece.
(JS) It has been great fun to honor our friends in this way and they love being able to wear a piece of jewelry named just for their daughter. Although we will probably need to make some new pregnant friends as we continue the business!
Do you have plans to expand to other markets or open a storefront?
(JS) We have always been dedicated to growing in a smart way and not too quickly. Our retailers are the reason for our success so we will continue to look for like-minded retailers to help continue our growth. We are lucky to have many great retailers here in Charlotte that have large, beautiful Towne & Reese displays, so we have never seen a need for that.
(CP) We would love to continue to grow the brand but through our retailers. We don’t have any plans to open a storefront. Our retailers have been so supportive and have helped us get to where we are today.
When you wear jewelry, is it always Towne & Reese or do you have any other favorites?
(JS) After six seasons, my closet is so packed with Towne & Reese jewelry I don’t think I could fit anything else in there! Since we started, we have created so many different kinds of pieces, I don’t really think about wearing anything other than our jewelry. Of course, I mix in sentimental pieces of jewelry like the earrings my husband gave me when Robert was born and the necklace from Reese’s birth.
(CP) With two releases a year, we have lots of jewelry to choose from that always feel new and different, so I only wear Towne & Reese; with the exception of two bracelets I wear every day—one has a “T” charm for my daughter, Towne, and the other has a “W” charm for my son, Weston.
Where do you see Towne & Reese in 5 years?
(CP) Wow, that’s a tough question. I didn’t think we would be here 3 years ago. I do know that we will stay true to the brand and ourselves and continue to offer trendy but affordable accessories. We love what we do and will continue to work hard to keep it fresh and to deliver what customers want – and we’ll see where that takes us in five years.
(JS) I don’t know where we will be in five years but hopefully continuing our expansion with retailers who appreciate what we have to offer. One thing I do know is that we’ll keep doing this as long as we are having fun, running a viable business and providing trendy but affordable jewelry. If we can’t do those three things, we’d probably stop but I don’t see that happening!
Do you have a question for Christi and Jessica? If so, leave it in the comments section below and we'll do our best to answer it as soon as we can.