Molly Howard isn’t into doing the trendy thing, so it makes sense that she launched a women’s apparel brand dedicated to a classic motif: the stripe.
Howard — along with former Vogue editors Meredith Melling and Valerie Macaulay — started La Ligne, French for “the line,” in 2016, after spending three years as head of business development at Rag & Bone. Prior to that, she worked as an investment banker at Credit Suisse in the Financial Sponsors Group.
Howard has helped chart a unique path for La Ligne, which has included recruiting inspiring celeb types (think sustainable accessories designer Aurora James and model and body inclusivity advocate Candice Huffine) for a portrait series in lieu of paying Instagram stars to post about styles; and employing a flexible, direct-to-consumer model. Net-a-Porter has been a wholesale partner from the outset, and another retail partner will be announced in the near future.
“Our wholesale business is about marketing and brand adjacencies and opening up the brand to people who wouldn’t otherwise see it,” she said. “We cut our margin in half by selling wholesale; [unlike other brands,] we don’t mark up twice.”
Next up, La Ligne plans to expand to other product categories and establish a physical retail presence.
Howard walked Glossy through a typical day in her life, which included meeting with a potential investor, planning an upcoming collaboration and having dinner with friends.
8 a.m.: Alarm goes off. A morning person I am not, but I persevere. In the last week, I have started leaving my phone in the hallway outside of my bedroom — it forces me to get out of bed and actually wake up. I check Instagram — La Ligne’s account and then mine — and quickly skim The New York Times.
8:15 a.m.: I brush my teeth, wash my face and put my contacts in. My beauty routine is pretty simple: I use a serum and oil by Tulura, and I always apply eyeliner and Cle de Peau concealer under my eyes. I have eyelash extensions — that’s my ultimate beauty trick. I’ve been getting them every month for four years.
8:30 a.m.: I find getting dressed every day a challenge, which seems strange since I own a clothing brand. I am a creature of comfort. And by comfort, I mean comfortable clothes. And by comfortable clothes, I mean sweats — hence the name of our cashmere sweatsuit pieces, the Molly hoodie and Molly jogger, which I choose as my look of the day.
9 a.m.: I put my headphones in and head out for work. I would like to note that, in my building, there is a gym located directly next to my apartment door. If my door and the gym door were opened at the same time, they would touch. I put my head down and pretend I don’t see it. I promise you, I’ll be more impressive later in the day.
9:02 a.m.: I walk to work – only a five-minute walk (or 1.5 songs) — and grab a matcha latte, which I basically finish by the time I walk through the door. I daydream about a day when my inbox will be to zero, but then start working through whatever is most urgent.
10 a.m.: It’s a Tuesday, which means we’re adding new product to the site. I call our warehouse – they received the goods last night, but are still in the process of checking the items in. Valerie is working on product descriptions for said products, while Meredith is putting the final touches on the email blast about to go out. We all take a final look at the email. I add a rap lyric to the end of the email and set it to go out at noon. Hopefully the product is checked in by then!
11 a.m.: Our team of nine sits around the conference table to look at sketches for a very exciting collaboration we have coming up. We agonize over stripe placement and width, and color combinations, and I talk through target retail price, margin and quantity. Then we give the sign-off for production on the first samples for this partnership. I get frustrated thinking about how long I will have to wait for this to exist in the world — I want it now.
12 p.m.: Email goes out. A small typo is immediately flagged, but we like to think that gives us a little bit of a homegrown touch. Denial.
12:05 p.m.: Meredith and Valerie are about to leave to shoot our upcoming campaign with Xiao Wen and Matthew Sprout. This is the first shoot I will miss since we launched and I am pretty devastated about it, but I have an important meeting with a potential new investor that I don’t want to move. We load up two racks of clothing, pack two suitcases of shoes and smoke bombs (once you see the campaign that will make sense), grab the prop kit and steamer and call a car, and I send them off.
1 p.m.: I change into something a bit more investor-appropriate, our Top Stitch dress, and head uptown. On the way, I realize we haven’t posted an Instagram today, so I go through our Dropbox and find my favorite shot of one of the products just released: our new Bonne Nuit pajamas. I craft a few captions and take a screenshot, and send it Meredith and Valerie for review. They pick their favorite, and I post.
1:40 p.m.: I arrive 20 minutes early to the meeting, which is next door to a very lovely looking pizza place. I go in, get a personal pie and go through emails on my phone while devouring it.
2 p.m.: I’m staring out the window from the 59th floor, looking over Central Park and thinking about how beautiful New York City is, something that basically never crosses my mind even though I have lived here all my life. My meeting starts, and I get into the groove. I have started to really enjoy these meetings. It’s an entirely different feeling when the concern is never, “What if I can’t answer that?” — something I used to always worry about. We talk through every aspect of the brand, the business, the team, the dream, the numbers — and I feel great.
3 p.m.: I’m headed back downtown to our office, and Valerie sends me photos from the shoot. I am always amazed by the content my partners create. I send the screenshots to my mom and dad — I want to share them with someone but don’t trust anyone else enough! Then I ask my Uber driver if I can play my own music, and I sit back and take a beat. I’ve always been a big hip-hop fan — Childish Gambino makes me calm.
3:30 p.m.: I see an email come in: Our portrait photographers, [Julian] Ungano and [Tommy] Agriodimas, sent us the first wide edit of the latest portraits for our In Line series. We invite a group of incredible women in to select their favorite piece and style it in a way that feels authentically them. We feature two a week in emails and on the website. Last week, we shot 50 separate women in two days. It was the most exhausting, overwhelming, exhilarating experience, and I loved it.
Nicole Richie for La Ligne
4 p.m.: I’m back in the office now, looking at the images on my computer screen, with a few other members from our team crowding around to look with me. Every single person at La Ligne has fully embraced the “wear many hats” role of being part of a startup, so they most likely were a part of the process.
4:30 p.m.: I have a call with the owner of our warehouse, Boxzooka, to talk about international shipping, which we are planning to offer. We finish, and I’m excited — this has been a big priority for us, and it’s finally happening. When we hang up, I call our developer, Adam, and walk him through the changes that are happening.
5:15 p.m.: Time to get our Net-a-Porter order ready to ship. I log in to their internal dashboard and request the shipment, with maybe the most focus of anything I’ve done all day. I provide our warehouse with a detailed list of all items by size, by SKU and by Net region, and provide any other possible information they would need to make sure it’s exactly perfect. Net took a chance on us in our first season, and we’ve been with them ever since. We don’t want to disappoint!
7:15 p.m.: I go to therapy, 15 minutes late. I can’t tell you what we talked about.
8 p.m.: I FaceTime with my boyfriend, who lives in London and is about to go to bed. He makes me smile. We talk through each of our days and the countdown of when I’ll see him next: three days.
9 p.m.: I meet my friends — Tracy Dubb, Cleo Wade, Kate Greer and Dianna Agron (two of the four are wearing La Ligne, which thrills me) — for dinner at Il Buco. Three courses, three hours and three bottles of wine in, I can’t think of a topic we didn’t cover. We laugh, someone cries, and we are pretty sure we’ve come up with a solid plan to solve the world’s problems. We all share an Uber home, even though it makes no sense directionally.
12:15 a.m.: I get home and get ready for bed. (Cue those Bonne Nuit pajamas I mentioned earlier.) I put on a Kova sleep patch, my newest obsession, which usually takes about one or two hours to kick in — perfect; I’m not caught up on “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I leave my phone in the hallway and dive in. I remember a few last-minute emails I need to send and immediately regret the hallway/phone decision. I finally fall asleep somewhere in the middle of the fourth episode — not ideal for nightmare likelihood, but what can you do? C’est la vie.