One of our favorite guides to chic living - Matchbook Magazine - featured our dress code chic style in their February issue! We loved getting to know Matchbook editors Katie and Jane as we chatted about everything from our first meeting to our favorite dress to our love for vintage bar carts during the shoot.
Text by Katie Armour, Photos by Carol Dronsfield
The day Dorie Golkin and Emelyn Northway met, they were wearing the same dress. It was their first week of Wharton Business School and the two instantly bonded over their shared fashion sense. Having worked in finance and consulting, both had grown frustrated by the lack of affordable professional attire on the market. Lucky for us, the two hatched a plan. This winter Dorie and Emelyn launched Of Mercer to provide women with designer quality workwear that doesn’t break the bank. The stylish and tasteful pieces have already been spotted by trendsetters such as Olivia Palermo, and after one brush with their luxury Italian wool, it’s easy to see why. We paid the girls a visit at Dorie’s colorful Manhattan apartment to get the inside scoop.
How did Wharton prepare you to start Of Mercer?
Emelyn: Wharton has a strong and growing community of entrepreneurs, making it a great place to launch a business. We were part of an incubator (the Wharton Venture Initiation Program) and were able use many of our classes to test and refine our concept. Wharton’s network of professors, students, and alumni continues to be a huge resource to us.
What was your dress code at your finance job?
Dorie: My dress code in consulting was a bit atypical because it depended entirely on the client I was working for. The goal was for us to blend in – so when my client was a bank, I wore a full suit, but when my client was a music label, I wore jeans and a t-shirt. I was always looking for versatile pieces to take me from project to project and fit a variety of dress codes.
What do you wear each day now that you're running your own business?
Dorie: We always joke that now that we’ve found the solution to our workwear woes, we don’t actually need it. We love our dresses and blazers, so when we’re out-and-about, we’re usually wearing them. But in the office, we often just wear jeans.
Have you always loved fashion?
Emelyn: Always. In 7th grade I was a fashion designer for career day at school. Using my mom's sewing machine (and no sewing lessons), I created a "visionary" line of pink and purple taffeta tube dresses. For obvious reasons, the line never reached critical acclaim outside of my immediate family, but my love for fashion has always stayed with me.
Who in your has inspired the Of Mercer style?
Dorie: The quintessential Of Mercer woman is ambitious, confident, and sees her personal style as an asset. Michelle Obama embodies these qualities - she proves that women can look feminine, fashionable, and powerful.
What was it like making the transition from a career in finance to fashion?
Emelyn: The transition was not just from finance to fashion but also from corporate to startup. In finance, I had access to tons of resources to help research and analyze every decision I made. Without those resources in a startup, we often have to make decisions with a lot less information and analysis than we’d like. That has taken some getting used to.
What makes Of Mercer's pieces different from other workwear on the market?
Emelyn: Quality for the price and style. Our quality is on par with any of the contemporary designer brands sold at department stores. We use the same fabric mills, the same factories, and I personally feel that our fit is more flattering than many of them. But because we're direct to consumer, we can sell our dresses for a fraction of the cost of those brands. Style-wise, while we do have some basics, our take on workwear is a bit edgier and more fun than a lot of the workwear that's out there. We use color, leather trimming, and other details to make our pieces stylish and unique, but always office-appropriate.
What is your favorite dress from the collection? (maybe both answer this one)
Dorie: The Thompson Dress. It has sleek lines, comes in fun colors, and the exposed zippers are great edgy details!
Emelyn: The Carnegie Dress. I've always loved Audrey Hepburn’s fit-and flare silhouettes, and I'm mildly obsessed with neoprene, so this is a no brainer for me.
What five words would you use to describe the quintessential Of Mercer woman?
Dorie: Ambitious, Feminine, Smart, Stylish, Fun.
Have you been recruiting all your old coworkers to wear Of Mercer?
Dorie: Yes! They face the same challenges we did of finding high-quality stylish workwear within their budgets, so Of Mercer is a welcome addition to their lives!
What advice do you have for fellow female entrepreneurs?
Emelyn: Make sure you have a support system. 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. Dorie and I are lucky to be friends turned co-founders, but even without a co-founder, a mentor can make your experience a whole lot easier.