Brenau Women’s College - B.A. in Business Administration
[Editor's Note: Emmie's interview is the first in a series celebrating Southern Proper this week. Check back all week long to learn what it's like to work for the Southern fashion powerhouse.]
Emilie Howard and her sorority sister shared two common passions among college-aged women: Southern men and fashion. Their uncommon pursuit of that passion? Starting their own men’s clothing brand.
Southern Proper, haberdashery for the Southern gentleman, is a tribute to the southern preppy style—just check out the brand’s bowties or neckties. As a founder, Emilie, who goes by “Emmie,” wears several hats; from flying to meet with manufacturers around the world to taking customer orders or working on the latest season’s collection. “Some say that clothes should relate to who you are … and I feel the exact same way about my career,” Emmie says. “My upbringing, family values and style are reflected in Southern Proper’s Culture and products.”
Business is in the details, so yes—do sweat the small stuff!
How did you discover your current job?
In 2005, one of my sorority sisters and I decided to combine our passion for Southern men and fashion (in that order!) by creating Southern Proper. Southern Proper, haberdashery for the Southern gentleman, has quickly become one of the most renowned regional clothing brands this side of the Mississippi.
What responsibilities do you have in your role?
Every day’s an adventure! When you’re an entrepreneur, you wear a lot of hats to get things done. From flying to visit our manufacturers around the world to taking customer orders or creating our latest seasonal collection, we strive to make hard work seem effortless.
What was it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
Some say that clothes should relate to who you are … and I feel the exact same way about my career. My upbringing, family values and style are reflected in Southern Proper’s Culture and products.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
In business, you can’t be afraid to take risks. But that doesn’t mean that those risks don’t keep me up every night. My mind is always in a constant state of “brainstorming” things like: “Will this product be a hit and sell or will we have excess inventory? How are our customers feeling about us? And how can we be better?”
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Women in business should always strive to be two things: resilient and resourceful. Like most female leaders, balance is always a tricky trail. Family runs deep in my heart and I always want to make sure I give as much to my personal life as I do my professional one.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
I love to travel! Some of my most gratifying moments are times when complete strangers in airports, hotels, cities etc., are wearing Southern Proper product and I either politely compliment them on their clothing or just sit back and think to myself, “We can do this!”
What are some of the rules you live by?
The main rule I live by is: “It’s better to be polite than always right.” A few others that I practice and preach are:
To eat well is to live well.
A bar with lots of glasses means lots of friends!
There is so much power in a “thank you” or “I’m sorry.”
It’s never too late to write a thank you note.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
They should be persistent, optimistic, hospitable, eager to learn, resourceful and creative.
What are your favorite restaurants?
I’m a foodie and breakfast, lunch and dinner are my favorite pastimes. I believe that my Grandmother was right when she said, “Food is love!”
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Work even harder! Business is in the details, so yes—do sweat the small stuff!