by Olivia White | Featured Contributor
Shortly after graduating from college, I found an outlet for my untapped creative talents in the form of 41 Winks, a fashion-forward bedding brand for young women.
It was inspired by my own experience. For many college freshmen (myself included), college is the first opportunity to express personal style in the form of bedroom décor. I envisioned unique bedding that was as individual as I was. Since it is a blank canvas for self-expression in a small space, bedding was the single biggest decision my friends and I made when it came to outfitting our dorm rooms. This makes it incredibly rewarding to design.
It’s been two years since I dove into a leadership role as the Creative Director at 41 Winks, taking on a full-force rebrand. I ventured to New York City and immersed myself into an industry I knew very little about. I had no prior experience managing a brand, yet found myself running the company. I secured an office space, built a team, and— step-by-step— created a company culture from scratch.
Looking at the business through the eyes of a young woman, I set out to mold a culture that engaged and inspired our employees and customers.
Here’s my recipe for creating a culture from scratch:
Be Your Brand: Your tone of voice and actions should align with your brand. Practicing what you preach is critical for any company culture – especially when you’re building a new company from the ground up. It’s important to have confidence in who you are and what your brand represents. I regularly ask “is this on brand for 41 Winks?” with every decision, big or small.
Encourage (Work) Day Dreaming: Innovation often starts with a single passionate idea. Create an environment free of limits and packed with creativity and imagination. At 41 Winks, we embrace conversations about new ideas and individual visions for the company. I love watching the team’s dreams turn into reality.
We all come from different backgrounds, experiences and cities, and each have our own unique take on style. This is our secret weapon to success. Together, we’ve created a brand with universal appeal to a large demographic. We offer a wide range of styles, which empowers our customers to express their personal style.
Make the Office Your Own: It’s hard to feel inspired in an uninspiring space. No matter the size of your space or budget, you can create a space where you want to work. Integrating design and culture will optimize productivity and promote innovation.
At 41 Winks, we get small space design. From your desk to your Post-Its, everything you put in a tiny office matters. Every piece of furniture or tool can be both functional and speak to your culture.
Our stapler is metallic, our many colors of Sharpies are on display, and we have a neon 41 Winks sign on our front window. Don’t forget to keep your space organized. You will then become proud of that space and want to bring others into it, into your brand, and into your company.
Team Bonding: Choose a venue and activity that aligns with your brand and will be enjoyed by your team. There is no rule that limits bonding to evening hours, or that outings must be held at your go-to bar around the corner.
Plan events that are original, compelling and beneficial for the individual employee and team culture. From a trip to The Whitney, to a day of service with a local philanthropy, to an afternoon outing to capture new Instagram imagery, 41 Winks proves group activities keep work fresh and collaborative. The possibilities are endless 😉
Observe how your team interacts in different environments. We’ve generated our best ideas over a great power-lunch at Little Prince (one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants) and morning avocado toast. Team bonding will certainly help leverage your brand’s next big step.
Be Transparent: Educate your employees on the values and goals of your brand. Outwardly communicate expectations and reinforce behaviors that align. Don’t limit these conversations to orientation. Treat them as open-ended dialogues.
Tap Into an Existing Network: If you have limited resources, don’t be afraid to tap an existing network. Whether it’s establishing a workspace in a shared office space, or encouraging your employees to join a likeminded professional organization, there are many ways to build a sense of community.
Ever since we secured an office out of a WeWork building, our team and business has grown. Our fellow WeWork members constantly offer the support, innovative ideas and opportunities that enable brand growth and visibility in today’s competitive marketplace.
Olivia White is the CEO and Creative Director of 41 Winks, a fashion bedding company for women who think outside the white duvet. 😉
Her vision is to design expressive, statement decor for students and young professionals. As a 2013 University of Southern California grad, Olivia clearly recalls the experiences of shopping for both a college dorm and her first apartment, and understands the brand’s target demographic. Since moving to New York where she leads 41 Winks, Olivia and her team have developed new collections, including the Fall 2015 Line, which is inspired by and manufactured in NYC.
Olivia is a proud Texan turned Brooklynite. She loves her beagle George, Spanish music, and anything that could be considered a “New York Moment.” Most days she can be found in her SoHo office, surrounded by mini disco balls, and getting down right creative with her 41 Winks team.