Jessica Gold Newman: Co-founder of Dobbin, a new e-commerce womenswear business,
Gold Newman met her future business partner, Catherine Doyle, when they were both working at Liz Lange Maternity where they headed the company’s marketing and fashion design, respectively. Both headed off in different directions, but then came together to create a line that would fulfill all their clothing needs, as well as what every other woman they had talked to wanted. And thus, their startup Dobbin was born and is going strong. Their mission statement, “To start a simple idea: a line of fashionable staples, tailored to fit and flatter, using the best Italian fabrics, and manufactured here in the USA…(with) prices under $200 without sacrificing quality.”
How did you come up with the idea for Dobbin? What is your goal with this company?
Dobbin is an brand founded by myself and my partner, Catherine Doyle a year and a half ago. After meeting at Liz Lange Maternity, where she was the Design Director and I was the Marketing Director, we knew we wanted to start our own company. At the time we started putting together an informal business plan, we both felt frustrated by the prevalence of fast-fashion retailers who emphasized trend over quality fabrics, tailored, comfortable silhouettes that really fit, and who produced their goods overseas under uncertain ethical conditions.
At the same time, we watched as prices on our favorite European and American designer brands, who used luxury fabrics and who typically produced locally, rose exponentially. It became hard to find a beautiful jacket in tropical wool (and not polyester) for less than $350. We felt we could create a line, using the internet, that made it possible for us to offer those high-end fabrics and local manufacturing at an affordable price point. By selling online only, we’re able to cut out the middle man and to sell directly to consumers. We price all of our items under $200 while working with top European mills, we work tirelessly on fit and sell sizes 00-16 (with hopes to extend the range over time) and produce everything here in NYC.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for women when it comes to dressing professionally?
So many women we speak to want to look polished, but feel comfortable. You can do that without looking sloppy. It’s all about the fit. Even if you’re buying something inexpensive, know what works for your body and have it tailored if necessary. You don’t need to squeeze into something that won’t take you from morning to night. The other challenge we see women face is that they must stick to office dressing rules and sometimes feel confined by them. There are creative
ways to look professional but on-trend at the same time. Basic pieces or accessories in fashion colors or subtle prints can add excitement to any classic wardrobe.
Who are your style and business icons?
We find inspiration in all kinds of women, working or not. Style, to us, is about personality and confidence as much as it is about sartorial choices. We find women like our First Lady, Tina Fey and Marissa Mayer as important to watch as true fashionistas like Ines de la Fressange, Sofia Coppola and Giovanna Battaglia. In business, we’re inspired by Spanx’s Sara Blakely, Neiman Marcus’ Karen Katz, Stella and Dot’s Jessica Herrin, Xerox’s Ursula Burns and small business entrepreneurs like Belle Chevre’s Tasia Malakasis and Rifle Paper Co.’s Anna Bond.
What pieces of technology do you always carry? iPhone, tablet, laptop?
I always carry an iPhone and my Kindle. Catherine and I are both big readers and love to catch up on what new fiction we’ve read. The iPhone keeps us in constant contact throughout the day as we divide and conquer in the Garment District.
What shoes do you wear for meetings or presentations?
Like everything, I prefer quality to quantity so tend to depend on a reliable pair of Louboutin Simple pumps or black Miu Miu flats I’ve had for years. They’re both comfortable , and I’ve had both resoled many times.
What shoes do you actually wear to get to the meeting?
Probably the aforementioned black pumps, but I also recently bought a fun pair of leopard pumps that pair perfectly with our dresses and pants.
What do you usually eat for lunch or for a healthy snack?
Lunch and afternoon snacks are all about refueling for me; I tend to like a turkey sandwich for protein with some veggies on the side, and probably a cookie or something as a dessert. Catherine recently suggested Trader Joe’s for snacks,
which I’ve been loving.
What’s in your junk food drawer?
I’m not a huge junk food eater, but I do love a sweet at the end of a meal. I always have a little candy (right now it’s Halloween stuff like candy corn) around and for a special occasion, I pick up the gourmet Rice Krispie treats at Treathouse NY, which are divine.
Drink at happy hour?
A glass of Sancerre or a vodka tonic.
Favorite power-item piece of clothing or jewelry and where is it from?
An Iradj Moini necklace my husband bought me for our second anniversary. It’s a statement piece for sure, but looks great with any open neckline. Our Sabrina Combo Stretch Ponte Dress. Our ponte is from Italy and is substantial and easy to wear. I love that the combo allows me to dress it down with a cool jacket or sweater or up at night with strappy shoes and vintage earrings.
What items do you always keep under your desk or in your bag?
Comfortable shoes or sneakers can look chic. I stick to grey or black Innov-8s or New Balance pairs for versatility. I keep basic makeup items like Too Faced BB Cream, Maybelline Big Lash mascara (it’s a classic for a reason!), a small brush and Rosebud salve on me for quick touchups for night.
Exercise of choice?
Running or walking in Central Park with our company mascot, my Havanese puppy, Gemelli. Catherine’s trying to get me to try SoulCycle, but I’m scared! My husband owns Crossfit NYC so he also trains me from time to time at the gym.
Blogs or sites you read on breaks at work?
I’m always looking at the NY Times, CNN and HuffPo for news; I like to keep up on current events. For fashion, I like the blogs Keep it Chic, I Love Your Style, Garance Doré and my friend Eva Chen’s new vision for Lucky Magazine. At Dobbin, we’re also huge interior design fans and read blogs like This is Glamorous, Good Bones Great Pieces and Mark D. Sikes. I’m also so excited that Domino is back and looking fantastic under Michelle Adams. Of course we also catch up on business and entrepreneurship news on sites like Levo League and the Wall Street Journal!
Your go-to work bag?
I try to wear as much that’s made in the US as possible and for the past six months have been carrying a bag from Lotuff Leather like us, they source the best materials and then manufacture the bags in the US, in their case in Connecticut. Their bags are investment pieces with timeless appeal.
Apps you use on a daily basis that you find to be helpful?
Anything social media related in order to keep up with our pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Forecast,io helps me plan what to wear everyday. Style.com’s app is excellent for catching up on fashion news and trends.
What is your go-to caffeinated drink and where do you get it? Or do you have a caffeine alternative?
Coffee in the morning, and another in the afternoon. My Nespresso machine has been key to working the long hours that starting a business requires.
Ask Levo Mentor Alyssa Loh, Deputy Editor at The American Reader, what essentials she relies on to get through the day!