It’s Black Friday again, and I couldn’t be more proud to highlight a beautiful, fashionable, smart, savvy woman of color and business owner whose job absolutely “werks”! I recently got a chance to interview the founder of the trend-setting vintage clothing brand The Lowry Estate, Corliss Elizabeth Williams.
In our typical Women Who Werk fashion, I asked Corliss five questions to get a bit of background information about her, and her career path in becoming a style entrepreneur. Check out her answers below, and don’t forget to support small businesses on Small Business Saturday. And if you’re looking to get involved in #blackoutblackfriday, catch the amazing sales at The Lowry Estate happening all this weekend!
What made you want to leave an “award-winning career in magazines” to pursue becoming a fashion entrepreneur? Now that you’ve made your passion your business, how do you keep up with a loving husband, an adorably chunky cat, and a busy social life?
After 10+ years in publishing, I decided to follow my dreams. I found working in magazines extremely rewarding in the beginning, but as resources and budgets dried up, and staff cuts were happening every time I would put my foot up at a place, I decided that it was time to work on my own terms. You only live once. My mother has always told me, “You need to do what makes you happy”, and so I decided that even though it was terrifying to take that leap from corporate America, this was the time to do it to get on a path of happiness. My loving husband is another force in my life who has encouraged and supported me every step of the way. If I didn’t have my family, husband, and friends pushing me, I wouldn’t be sitting in the shop today answering these questions for you! Keeping up with Pozzo (my chunky cat) and finding time for friends, family, and my husband is challenging, but I always make sure that I still see my people no matter what.
The Lowry Estate is named for your grandmother, whom you describe as quite a fashionable professional who also loved to travel. What lessons did your grandmother teach you about style? How did she become the influence for your brand and business?
I have fond memories of shopping with my mother and grandmother. I still love going to the mall when I go home, and hitting up department stores with my mom during the holidays. I remember my mother and grandmother always making sure that I looked my best, no matter what—no ill fitting clothes…leather, not pleather… if it doesn’t fit you, you shouldn’t buy it. Hearing that growing up certainly applies to me today, and is an element of style that I encourage here at Lowry. I’ll never push or have anyone walk out of the shop unless it compliments them. Lowry was my grandmother’s last name. Naming the business after her was a symbol of respect and a way to give homage to her, my mother, and the other strong women in my family.
What strategies do you employ when using your incredible vintage clothing collection to help women “own the room” and find their style?
One of the biggest challenges that I am finding is getting my clients to know that they can “own the room”. It’s hard to get some women to step out of their comfort zone of wearing all black, or every day jeans. When they slip on a pretty dress or skirt in the shop and see their reflection in the mirror and begin finding excuses as to why they can’t necessarily have something nice, or they don’t have a place to wear something a little more polished, it’s my job to remind them that when you look good, you feel good—no matter if you’re going to work or going to the corner store. You deserve to look your best and own nice pieces of clothing to integrate amongst the everyday stuff.
What has been the best part of opening your new flagship store in Bushwick, Brooklyn? What part has been the most challenging? What’s next for The Lowry Estate?
The best part is seeing people’s faces light up when they come in! I have achieved my goal of providing a unique shopping experience, where women know that they will leave with a flawless, ready-to-wear vintage piece that will last them forever. People have expressed their appreciation for stepping in to a well-curated store that doesn’t require rummaging, or disappointment when they get home to find a rip or a stain. Everything here has been hand-selected with care and precision. Next for The Lowry Estate is continuing with personal styling services for the holidays and beyond, and maintaining my Instagram store presence, which has been going really well so far!
What are your favorite three pieces of clothing to wear? When and why?
I love wearing my leather red ankle booties with all black; I love the subtle pop! I love wearing my mother’s silver ring because it will always represent the idea of passing clothes and accessories down in my family. And I love wearing my grandmother’s mink jacket in the dead of winter!
Thanks so much to Corliss for answering our questions and keeping us motivated to look good for the holidays here at Mona Jean for Every Day. Check out and follow The Lowry Estate on Instagram and at http://www.thelowryestate.com!