Meet Sisters Annie Cochran and Page Wick, Co-Founders of The Proper Peony
Tell us about The Proper Peony.
The Proper Peony is a children’s clothing and accessory line, sold online and in fine retail boutiques. Our brand is known for its hand-embroidery! We love that our vision to bring a fresh, hand-embroidered look to children’s wear has really taken off!
How did you and your sister get started?
In 2013, we found a darling dress that our very stylish grandmother had saved for her grandchildren to wear! The dress had the most precious hand-sewn strawberries on the front, all hand-embroidered in amazingly delicate detail. As new mothers ourselves, we had not seen anything on the market quite like this! We decided to try to recreate this hand-embroidered look with a more modern cut and fresh colors… and The Proper Peony was born! Now we design all of our styles and have a team of seamstresses who work diligently to produce two large retail collections a year for us, plus some online exclusive styles! We have grown and expanded, but our love of hand-embroidery with a fresh look has remained a constant!
Are you and your sister similar or different? How does that help your business?
We are a little bit of both! Page brings the marketing angle to her thought-process. With her background in corporate, large brand marketing, she really brings a refined ability to be strategic when communicating our brand image to customers. Annie sees things a bit more linearly and focuses on our operations. She maintains a running list of priority items to accomplish daily or weekly in order to keep our business on track. We have different operational strengths, but thankfully we have a lot more in common, and that keeps us headed in the same direction! We work together to design our clothing and accessories every season, and we are constantly talking through ideas. The creative work is the most enjoyable, yet challenging, part of our daily business! From marketing, to manufacturing and design, we work on every aspect of our business every day!
What’s your funniest story in working with your sister?
When we first started out, we wore many hats! Thank goodness we have more help now with marketing, bookkeeping, inventory and just the various details of running a growing business. However, when we first started the company, we always got a kick out answering the phone with someone asking for our “accounting” or “marketing” department. We would pause for a second, and then put on our accounting or marketing hat (and “voice”) – little did the caller know that we did it all! 🙂
What is your favorite thing about your business?
The flexibility it provides! Our families are our priorities, and as our children have gotten older, our lives have gotten busier! We are thankful that we can make our own hours and even work in the car as we drive to Target or cafeteria duty! We are known to “talk” all day and never see each other – we truly work on the go a lot!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your business to date?
Customer service. Our motto is to always go above and beyond to treat the customer with the best service and graciousness as possible! Our customers are so important to us – they put us on the map, so we do all that we can to listen to them and take care of them. We’ve run to FedEx to overnight a dress to someone’s beach house because they had pictures the next day, and we recently replaced a dress because a customer’s dog ate through her package. While good customer service often means taking short term monetary losses, we think we’ve gained our customers’ trust and have earned a reputation as a brand that will stand behind its product no matter what. That’s worth a lot to us because we’ve built trusting and long-lasting customer relationships!
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur who is just starting out?
The most important thing we’d say to an entrepreneur is to just get started with something! You can’t wait until all your ducks are in a row, because they likely never will be! From the very beginning, we had some ideas that were great and others that didn’t work, so we were always pivoting when necessary. However, it’s this challenge that kept us moving and innovating and, we think, headed in the right direction. We’ve found you have to just try things and always be willing to adapt and change!
Favorite spot to hang out with your sister? Antique stores!
Favorite product? Coffee, tennis rackets, and cell phones!
Favorite road trip? To the mountains – North Carolina (where our girls go to summer camp) or Colorado (Crested Butte is a long-time family favorite).
Favorite podcast? How I Built This – love a good business story!
Website URL: http://www.theproperpeony.com
Instagram Handle: @theproperpeony