Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing female business owner and NYU student Erica Coven. Coven is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Cool Is A Construct, as well as Founder of Coven Collage. Featured in Vogue, Who What Wear, and more, NY based Cool Is A Construct is successfully breaking into the fashion industry and definitely a brand to be looking out for.
Have you always been interested in working in fashion? How did you get your start in fashion and social media managing/marketing?
I actually always wanted to work in the beauty industry. While I always loved dressing up since putting on princess dresses in my costume chest at a young age, I never actually had that dream. I never thought I would end up doing fashion until I met Chloe, but honestly it was meant to be. I have enjoyed this whole process of growing and experimenting and just being creative and having fun. Art, expression, and storytelling are core to my life and who I am as a person, and I am so happy I have this experience of combining them all. I love clothes because they really allow people to bring their personal style and identity to the surface as a form of celebration. Clothes are so meaningful and important to us and it makes me really happy to create pieces that make someone feel confident in themselves.
Social media has always been my medium of choice in terms of storytelling and creativity. This summer, I am working for TikTok on the Global Marketing team as an intern. Ever since Instagram came out, I experimented with many different forms of creativity. I used to take entrepreneurship and photography classes, and I even launched other businesses before this. Social media marketing is something I have played with and worked in for years. I currently also run the TikTok of the restaurant Serafina. Being able to combine my love for people, community, communication, art, expression, and discovery is incredible. I created Erica Coven Creative to manage all of my freelance social media projects (in addition to Cool is a Construct).
How would you describe the aesthetic and mission of “Cool is A Construct”?
Cool is a Construct certainly has a colorful and exciting aesthetic focusing on fun, dynamic floral prints. I major in Gender & Sexuality studies in college. Inclusivity is core to any mission I do creatively, and our size range of XXS – 4XL is extremely important to us and our brand. I want everyone to feel confident in anything they wear, allowing for experimentation and expression without limitations. As Creative Director, I find it fundamental to bring the notion of personal expression to the surface and really highlight the energy of both ourselves and our consumers. Allowing personalities and identities to shine through style is key to our mission and aesthetic. If you’re looking for the minimal basics, I definitely don’t think our brand is the right option for you, but if you’re down to experiment with bright mixes of pinks and greens, florals, geometrics, and more, we are your girls!
What is the significance behind the name “Cool is A Construct”?
When my partner, Founder Chloe Neu started the brand, she always knew what name she wanted to use. Chloe told me she came up with “Cool is a Construct” in middle school on the school bus because she and her friends always used to discuss Tumblr names, and she thought it would be an amazing one so she wrote it down in her notes. She went to a super progressive school where they talked about everything in terms of “construct;” like race and gender and social constructs. Because this conversation was always occurring around her, she felt like the name was perfect for the brand and herself. I love our brand’s name and I’m so happy Chloe came up with it. I think it’s really important to who we are as individuals and our vision for the brand and girl culture as a whole. There is so much pressure nowadays on social media and in life for achieving the “cool girl aesthetic.” I constantly think to myself: what does it even mean to be cool? Our brand transcends the societal standards and notions of “cool” to be an individual experience of expression.
What struggles, if any, have you had as a young entrepreneur in the fashion world and how have you overcome them? What advice would you give to other women looking to launch a fashion brand?
As college students, Chloe and I definitely have to balance our time out so we can dedicate energy to grow in our brand but also keep up with our classes at FIT and NYU. It definitely helps that we are doing it together and are best friends… we have each other’s back through everything and especially this! It definitely was hard at the beginning to spread the word but thanks to TikTok and media outlets such as British Vogue, Us Weekly and Cosmopolitan along with placements like Addison Rae, Maddie Ziegler, and more, we have seen success! Teamwork is really important here and we are both so lucky that we have each other to motivate and grow our passion project of Cool is a Construct. With Chloe‘s incredible business skills and leadership and my creative direction and collaboration, we really make the dream team. I say this to all my friends and I mean it, if you have an idea just make an Instagram and TikTok and start soft-launching it. Who knows what it could become and the attention it can get! You just have to take risks and go for it. It will be so worth it in the end and you will feel so proud of yourself no matter what.
How has social media made an impact on your brand?
We really owe a lot of our success to our TikTok growth and active audience. Speaking directly to our followers and really engaging with who they are as individuals and what they like to wear and want to see is how we have been able to make clothing that they love and buy. We want our followers to be involved every step of the way and social media has been a big part of that. We aren’t afraid to get a little bit more casual, communicative, and curious when using our social media platforms to ask our followers questions. We are so lucky that our TikToks have caught the attention of muses like Addison Rae and more. It is so amazing that we used and continue to use social media to not only spread the word of our brand but bring people together and express authentic creativity – that’s why I love and work in social media!
“Cool is A Construct” and Coven Collage are both unique and visually appealing. What are different ways you get inspired and are there any brands/people you look up to? What is your creative process?
I really started taking my art seriously when I spent my first two years of college at Washington University in St. Louis. I was going through the darkest period of my life, I needed a creative outlet to help me find happiness and creativity. I would sit in my dorm room and apartment and take words, phrases, colors, language, and vintage comics and whip them up into collages. I have loved collaging since I was little. For my art, I am inspired by the lives and stories of myself and those around me. One time my friend got broken up with and I was like … wow I have a great idea how to turn that story into art! I do that all the time. It’s almost become a joke with my friends.
For Cool is a Construct, we love to listen to our followers and audience when looking for design inspiration because at the end of the day it’s for them and we want to include them in every step of the process that we can. This manifests through TikTok videos asking our followers questions such as “Do you like this print? What styles are you loving lately?… etc” in addition we love to stalk Pinterest and constantly refresh through unique new design inspiration.
I know sustainability is an important aspect of “Cool is A Construct”. How have you committed to sustainability?
Sustainability is core to our brand. While most brands produce an inventory with thousands of pieces of all sizes, we are strictly made-to-order. What that means in terms of sustainability is that we never have any extra clothing to go to waste. Through adopting this system, we are able to limit textile waste, contributing to a larger mission of sustainability in the fashion industry. All of our fabrics and clothing are made in New York and LA. Sourcing locally is so fundamental in sustainable and ethical fashion practices, eliminating themes of worker exploitation, pollution, and more. The pollution and waste caused by the fashion industry are hard to digest mentally. Even though we are two girls with a small business, we like to know that we are making somewhat of a difference environmentally.
Do you have plans or hopes for “Cool is A Construct” and Coven Collage for 2022 and 2023?
For Cool is a Construct, we definitely want to expand our exposure and sell on websites instead of just from our site! And we always get so excited to see our placements on celebrities and influencers. We really hope to get some of our favorite ladies. In the near future we really hope to produce a lot of creative collections that we are proud of, take our social media and website content to the next level, and start wholesaling on some of our favorite sites like Revolve and Lisa Says Gah. We are so excited to see where we end up next year and at the rate we are growing we know we will be proud of wherever we are.
I have many exciting new ideas and projects coming up for Coven Collage and I’m so excited to launch them. I already sell on Society6, but I want to start making my own merchandise too; I really want to work to turn my personal passion into art that I can share with everyone in personal, physical, and emotional ways… stay tuned!
IN CLOSING WE ALWAYS ASK “THE THREE Y’S” QUESTIONS WHICH ARE:
– Why You Care?
I care because I’m so proud of where I have come and I want to encourage other girls and young women to express their creativity and take risks.
– Why You Share?
I share because before Chloe and I really started Cool is a Construct it would’ve been really nice to read a first-hand experience from a college student entrepreneur and I want to foster a supportive environment in which girls support girls and we encourage each other to start businesses and express our voices.
– Why You Acknowledge That You Wear Your Values Every Day?
I acknowledge that I wear my values every day because in a world where everyone is trying to fit a societal standard of “cool”, I wear my clothes knowing that they bring out my personality and express myself authentically and as our name literally says, Cool is just a construct.