NEVER UNDERESTIMATE the power of PR.
When those in the fashion and beauty business need their brands to be seen by the world, they turn to Alle Fister and her bi-coastal company, Bollare. In Italian, the word bollare means to stamp or brand and that’s exactly what Fister and her team do. You may have (or absolutely have) heard of Fister’s clients: bikini brands Mikoh and Tori Praver, iconic prep-wear clothing line Lacoste, and GHD Hair Products. Alle spoke with Lady Clever about her journey and what it takes to start and maintain a business (not to mention sanity) in one of the world’s most competitive industries.
What inspired you to start Bollare?
I was part of the early team of women’s online retailer, Shopbop.com, handling the brand’s publicity and spokesperson work. About 8.5 years ago, Shopbop was absorbed by AMAZON, and in this transition, I founded Bollare, with my former employer as my first client!
I have loved the entrepreneurial journey!
Is Bollare your first entrepreneurial endeavor?
It is! At Shopbop, it was a VERY high-growth, entrepreneurially-spirited brand; however, I was on the early team and not the principal, as I am here at Bollare… there certainly is a heightened level of pressure with being in this role.
How do you balance your creative duties with the business side of your company? Does one side tend to overtake the other?
Brainstorming and the consequent pitching of ideas generated with my team and clients is one of my favorite things – I wish that could take up all of my time! As the business has scaled (now 65 team members between LA, NYC and London), we I have been able to continuously net invest in the business and hire pros in different arenas which I am not as strong. It has been a fun challenge and journey to get to the place where I can start to focus back on what I am truly good at and enjoy!
Most of your clients are on the cutting edge of the fashion or beauty businesses, and you yourself started your journey working with fashion at Shopbop. What drew you to those industries?
Growing up, my sister Sarah (who also happens to work in the fashion industry!) and I always had an interest in fashion and beauty — from dressing up our Barbie dolls to playing dress-up in our mom’s clothes… so how wonderful is it to turn a natural interest into a career?!
You obviously have insider’s knowledge, both from experience and from your clients. What can we expect to see become trends?
Across these industries, I look forward to seeing an increased leverage within digital capabilities for hyper-personalization — from experiences to product selection, allowing consumers to put more of an individualized stamp on brands that they know, love and trust.
Do you prefer working with up-and-coming clients or established brands?
I prefer a blend, because each type of business brings different opportunities and challenges. That’s the beauty of an agency — if you’re thoughtful about it, you can layer your clients in a way that is complementary to their mutual success.
What has been your biggest challenge starting and running Bollare?
Compartmentalizing my time. As a person running a growing business, time is your biggest, yet most limited, asset. There are many times I wish that I just had a little bit more time to dedicate to certain aspects or individuals — but you must trust the leadership and mechanisms that have been put into place!
What do you consider Bollare’s biggest success to date?
Three locations! Scaling the business cross-country… and then across an ocean… makes me SO proud!
What are your goals for Bollare now?
I would love to see Bollare continue to attract top-tier talent and top-tier brand partners who can love and enjoy the Bollare process.
Have you found it difficult to balance your personal and professional lives?
Having a trusted network is incredibly important as an entrepreneur. I am very lucky.
My husband is SUCH a great fit for me! He runs a business of his own called ONE TUSCANY, so we share that entrepreneurial spirit, which has been a big bonding point for us.
When it comes to my family… my father and I work closely on the business — he’s on the Bollare Advisory Board. Being able to have the grey-hair factor of vetting opportunities and challenges has been extremely helpful! My mother, sister and brother-in-law are all trusted advisors and the biggest Bollare cheerleaders.
Do you and your husband mix business with pleasure — that is, do you help each other when things get rough at work for either one of you?
Oh man, yes! Daily. That is one of the things that really attracted me to him — we could really celebrate in each others’ success and commiserate in each others’ challenges in a very special way that I really appreciate and enjoy.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as a woman starting her own business?
The harder you work, the more lucky you will get!
What is one piece of advice you would give to women starting their own business?
Really assess what it is you’re good at and why you are exploring the path that you are. Be very realistic with yourself!
What is one piece of advice you wish you had been given as a woman starting her own business?
Enjoy the ride. There will be great days and there will be some which you wish you could have just slept through, but they will each offer you lessons you will never forget.
Have there been any gender-specific challenges you’ve faced as a woman starting a business?
You know.. no. I’m not really one to look at challenges and feel ‘bad’ for myself or that they’re ‘me-specific.’ We all face challenges, male or female, and it’s how we work through them that builds character.