Joanna Lovering, Founder + CEO of Copper + Rise
Fashion is a form of self-expression. Joanna is the Founder and CEO of Copper + Rise, a styling coach business based in New York City. How Joanna started her business is unique, personal, and authentic, very much how she conducts her coaching with her clients. Learn more about her and how Copper + Rise took off in today’s spotlight.
Joanna, how did a life-changing moment propelled you to launch Copper + Rise?
My mother, who I was extremely close with, passed away suddenly on Mother's Day 2007 (yup, you read that right). Through both fantastic and poor career choices, weight gains and losses, and relationships come and gone, I've spent the past 12 years on a path of self-discovery, acceptance, and thoughtful inquiry. I’ve done some tough reflection (with the help of an amazing therapist), and have now landed in a place that truly feels like the right fit: as a femmentrepreneur with a business that sparks my passions and also gives me the chance to honor my mom's legacy.
What’s amazing is that I started my business in the exact same way my mom started her interior design business as she edged closer to retirement. Whereas I was going shopping with my friends, my mom was decorating her friends’ homes and thinking to herself, “you know, I could get paid for this.” She loved facilitating joy in people’s lives and helping people feel more comfortable in their homes. My business is founded around the same principle, but with clothing.
Now, not only do I find joy in coaching others through my business, but over the years, the pain of my mother's memory has turned into the joy of remembrance.
When it comes to clothing, do you think it is part of self-identity and expression?
Yes, one hundred percent. Whether conscious or subconscious, what you wear on your body is an expression of where you are and where you want to be. What you wear is a choice, and sometimes people choose very consciously. Sometimes, they choose not to care. And everything in between.
What makes Copper + Rise different than what is out there in the market?
What makes Copper + Rise different is that we’re a coaching firm first, a fashion styling firm second. While I have extensive style experience, I also have a masters degree in organizational psychology and leadership development, plus ten years of experience working at companies where I facilitated personal and professional growth. I use wardrobe as a catalyst for change, a channel for empowerment--but it’s not the be-all-end-all. I could care less about what’s on the runway or trends of the moment. I care more about your unique personal style and taking that to the next level, because that’s how we grow into more confidence.
When you coach your clients, how do you remain unbiased in brands, and any personal ethos (ie: sustainable fashion)?
I’m not sure I do! My biggest priority is authenticity and transparency. That, coupled with the fact that no good coach is a thoughtless robot, means that there’s really no way to remain completely unbiased. But that’s part of why people hire me: I have a clear point of view. While being a good coach means being able to flex towards lots of different personality types and styles, it doesn’t mean that I can (or should) abandon my values.
In developing your business, what has been a challenge? And a reward?
This was the first winter in my professional career where I didn’t walk into an office every day. I didn’t have coworkers to shoot the shit with. There were no quick lunches at our favorite cafe to debrief meetings or pep talks after a rough day. That was a huge change for me! Working from home, without the energy or rapport of coworkers around me, I sometimes felt lonely and tired.
I’m not the only small business owner who has gone through this, and there is a silver lining: co-working spaces have continued to grow and thrive, especially in NYC. Last month, I spent many hours touring these places and found exactly what I was looking for: like-minded, enthusiastic, insightful, and incredibly smart people that I would be excited to call my friends and colleagues.
I have to admit that I’m continually surprised by the genuine support of my fellow entrepreneurs. Running my own business has been a more solitary journey than I expected. But fortunately, I’ve found a community that’s welcomed me with open arms. That’s been a really rewarding and unexpected part of this experience so far.
What is the next milestone you’re looking forward to?
In the next six months, I’d like to have a lineup of workshops under my belt. I spent a decade of my professional career facilitating management courses, and to be honest, I thought that part of my career was long over. But I’ve now realized there’s no reason why I can’t tap into my expertise to enhance my business. While I’m definitely embracing my new role as founder + CEO, it will be energizing to tread in familiar waters, at least a little bit. I know it’s a smart move for my business, too.
I’m also looking forward to when I am making enough money to hire people to help me with the administrative needs of running a business. Down the line, I’d love to hire a social media manager and administrative assistant. I’m excited to build a team.
Interviewed by Chary