Catherine Doyle and Jessica Gold Newman met 11 years ago when they both worked at Liz Lange Maternity. They bonded over their mutual love of Paris, ’60s sportswear designers, books — and a desire to someday start their own fashion company. Eventually, Catherine became director of design and Jessica, director of marketing, and when Liz Lange sold the company in 2007, the two considered realizing their dream.
They had a few vague ideas about what they’d like to do, but ultimately decided they weren’t yet ready to go out on their own. Instead, they opted to learn more about the fashion industry, make additional connections and figure out exactly how their fashion company should be positioned. Catherine helped start an accessories company for a large retail designer, while Jessica did freelance consulting for small designers and retailers.
Finally, in 2011, they felt they had gained enough knowledge to clearly articulate what their business should be. They had observed that fashion had separated into either poor fitting, poor quality “fast fashion” or extremely marked-up designer goods. So they started raising money among family and friends, and in 2012, launched Dobbin Clothing. The name is based on an old English word for workhorse, based on the idea that they would sell wardrobe workhorses that would last their customers for years. The website sells women’s clothing for a wider range of sizes and builds (00 to 16), for less than $200, but made from the same quality fabrics, in the same factories, that high-end designers use.
Dobbin Clothing has doubled its revenue every season and has been profitable since the second season. We talked to Catherine and Jessica about what it takes to launch a fashion retail company.
Photo: Jessica Gold Newman and Catherine Doyle