Texas Christian University, B.A. in Art History
Tulane University, M.A. in Art History
Hattie Collins is a big believer in life décor—the sum of outfitting yourself, your home and your life. With her total approach to personal style, Hattie established her very own boutique and lifestyle brand in 2012, and now Hattie Sparks New Orleans is a one-stop shop for filling your closet, adorning your walls or finding the perfect gift.
Filling the world with a personal brand of style is an enviable job, but it’s the end result of a whole lot of hard work. “There’s not much I don’t do when it comes to the business,” admits Hattie. Keeping herself more than busy with buying, merchandising, finance, marketing and operations, Hattie’s involved in every aspect of her business. Saying she thrives in a bit of chaos, she also credits her continued success to the support of a dynamite team and learning that sometimes, you just have to say “No.”
Focus on your work and what makes it unique; don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
What responsibilities do you have in your role?
I handle all of the buying, merchandising, scheduling, finances, social media, event planning, shipping and operations at Hattie Sparks. There's not much I don't do when it comes to the business. Thankfully, I have great sales associates working for me, and we've added a few people to our extended team to handle PR and web design, which eases my workload a bit.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
I love interacting with and meeting new people. Working in the boutique retail world allows for so much of that. Getting to be creative in my business decisions is also very rewarding because even though it's "business," the end result of it is usually something that will make a customer really happy or enhance their shopping experience.
I've always been a curious person and discovering new things is what makes my wheels turn. These great products and designers I find and get to share with other people is probably the best part of my job.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
Making sure that everything has been taken care of: bills paid, emails responded to, tasks accomplished. I'm admittedly not the most organized person—I thrive in a bit of chaos—so I can be forgetful at times. When I lie in bed at night, I'm usually going over a mental checklist of the things I've forgotten to do.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Work/life balance is always a challenge, particularly in the age of social media when you can feel pressured to respond to requests right away. I also have a habit of popping into the store on my day off to take care of one little thing, then end up staying for hours. I've found that taking a day off in the middle of the week really helps me get things accomplished in my personal life, so I'm not battling it out with everyone else on a Saturday or Sunday.
Also learning to say "no" to certain things definitely helps keep things balanced and a bit more sane. For a while, I felt like I had no time for myself amidst all these things I'd committed to and realized that I had the power to decline from time to time—and that it was, in fact, totally okay.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
I can't say there has really been one big moment in particular. As a store, we’re still relatively young and growing. There have, however, been a collection of wonderful things that have happened that have encouraged me to keep going and validated the path that I'm traveling on. It's my hope that I'll have several moments of thinking "I made it!”— I think the minute you settle upon the notion you've "arrived" is when you get complacent. There's always another mountain in the distance waiting to be conquered.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Be the first to say hello. Take time for yourself. Focus on your work and what makes it unique; don't worry about what everyone else is doing. Be genuine and nice to people.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
A positive disposition, the ability to talk to lots of different kinds of people, patience, thinking objectively and a willingness to multitask and wear lots of hats.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Keep persevering and keep your eyes ahead, but enjoy where you are in life while you're there. If you look too far ahead, you'll miss out on being fully present and experiencing life as it's happening.
What's your favorite way to unwind?
I've recently become very into arranging flowers—big ones with many types of blooms and greenery—while listening to music and enjoying a good glass of Pinot Noir.