If you haven’t heard of Of Mercer yet, you’ve been missing out. As explained on the website, Of Mercer is all about bettering one’s profession and evoking a sense of belonging to something bigger – and of course, not sacrificing quality for price or style when trying to work with an office dress code. The ladies behind this amazing brand, Dorie and Emelyn, are both beauty and brains. I mean, they did meet at Wharton Business School. My Q&A with these brilliant girl bosses is below – they’re sharing business advice & so much more so make sure to check it out!
Now let’s talk about the Mott dress. I immediately fell in love when I put it on. The quality of the fabric is impeccable and the price point is just right. It’s such an easy dress to throw on when you need to look good but don’t have time to look good – aka me at least once a week. Oh, and did I mention it has pockets?! Yep, love at first sight.
Black bag (on this post)
Q: What were you doing before you started Of Mercer?
Dorie: Both of us came from conservative business backgrounds – I worked in strategy consulting at Deloitte and Emelyn was in investment banking at Merrill Lynch and private equity at Liberty Partners. We met during our first week at Wharton Business School…wearing exactly the same dress.
Q: Why did you decide to start Of Mercer?
Emelyn: While telling people we met while wearing the dress is a funny story now, the fact that we had the same “go-to” dress showed how limited our options were for stylish workwear. As professional women we knew we were an underserved segment of the market. High-end brands didn’t understand what we needed for our 9-to-5 lives (no, we cannot wear a floral printed short suit to our board meeting). And we were tired of the low-quality, ill-fitting mass-market brands. So we decided to do something about it with Of Mercer! We use the highest quality fabrics (Italian wool and Japanese specialty fabrics), produce all of our clothes locally in NYC, and most importantly, we truly understand the working woman.
Q: Why’d you originally go to Wharton?
Dorie: Both of us knew that we wanted to transition from our corporate jobs to something more entrepreneurial, and while we didn’t know exactly what that was at first, we knew Wharton had a strong start-up community with many successful e-commerce graduates (e.g., Warby Parker and Harry’s). With 800 professional women, it was the perfect place for us to test and refine the concept for Of Mercer.
Q: Have you always been interested in fashion?
Emelyn: Yes! In middle school I was a fashion designer for career day. Using my mom’s sewing machine (and no sewing lessons), I created a “visionary” line of pink and purple taffeta tube dresses. While I have handed over the design reigns to our designer Aja Singer (to everyone’s relief), I’m glad to have found my spot in the fashion world.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you received when starting Of Mercer?
Dorie: “Your network is your net worth.” We couldn’t have achieved what we have without all the people who have supported us along the way. Surround yourself with positive influences, ask for help when you need it, and most importantly, pay it forward.
Emelyn: “Solve a personal problem.” If you’re solving a problem that you personally have faced, you’ll understand the customer and have the passion and drive to keep going even when the road is bumpy.
Q: What advice would you give to other women looking to start their own businesses?
Dorie: Find a support network. Entrepreneurship is really exciting but is filled with highs and lows. It’s really helpful to have someone to turn to for advice (because there are days where you need a lot of it!) and help you through the lows. Also make sure you celebrate the highs. It’s easy to overlook your successes because there are always so many places to grow and improve. But it’s important to pause and have a glass of champagne to celebrate big milestones. Our team opened a few bottles of Moet when we got a big New York Times story!
Quick fire questions:
Q: Favorite Of Mercer piece.
Dorie: The Sutton Wrap Dress – I’ve been wearing this since we put it out! Unlike the traditional wrap dress, this one wraps above the bust so you don’t have to wear a camisole (or show your coworkers a little too much skin). The fuchsia color is probably my favorite!
Emelyn: The Mott Dress – I absolutely love its mod 60s silhouette and gorgeous tweed fabric. It’s an easy “throw on and go” dress that can stand on its own. It also looks great when layered over a button-down shirt or turtleneck.
Q: Go-to work outfit.
Dorie: To me nothing says confident more than the color red, so when I need to look powerful, I wear our Red Greenwich Dress (added bonus, it twirls!).
Emelyn: Now that we work at a startup, our dresscode is much more lenient, so I love throwing on jeans, a t-shirt, and a statement blazer like The Wythe.
Q: Most influential person/role model.
Dorie: My grandmother. She was the most positive and forward-looking woman I’ve ever met. She gave me the confidence to embrace my personal style from a very young age.
Emelyn: My mother. She is smart, compassionate and probably the strongest woman I know. She has always instilled in me the importance of being independent and being yourself. She really give me the courage to take a risk in starting Of Mercer.
Q: Favorite food.
Dorie: Buffalo wings and sushi (but not together)
Emelyn: Labneh. It’s a Middle Eastern cheese/yogurt spread. Lucky for me, there is a Lebanese restaurant right next to the store!
Q: Favorite TV show.
Dorie: I’m currently very into The People v. O.J. Simpson.
Emelyn: I love dramas and documentaries – Narcos, The Wire, Vice, The Jinx.
Q: Favorite book.
Dorie: I love all detective novels by Michael Connelly – I’ve probably read 20!
Emelyn: Anything non-fiction. The Boys in the Boat is my most recent favorite.
Q: Favorite actor/actress.
Dorie: I’m totally really into Alicia Vikander… me and the rest of the world.
Emelyn: Sandra Bullock – I love her in The Blindside.
Q: Favorite singer.
Dorie: Ben Folds
Q: Favorite song of the moment.
Dorie: Water Under The Bridge by Adele.
Emelyn: Justin Bieber’s I’m Sorry. And I’m not sorry about it.
Q: Favorite color.
Emelyn: Deep Turquoise
Q: Biggest pet peeve.
Dorie: When people mix up “I” and “me”. The contestants on the bachelor are the worst – ex: “It was such an amazing date for Ben and I.”
Emelyn: When people walk three in a row on the sidewalk, and you can’t get past them – I’m always late and in a hurry!
Q: One fun fact we don’t know!
Dorie: Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was one of the best experiences of my life – I think everyone should do it!
Emelyn: I once spent 24 hours at Officer Candidate School in Quantico training with marines.