Meet entrepreneur, author and fashion historian Nancy Flaherty. Using her couture fashion knowledge she recently presented her book French style: 10 essential items for the style and history that makes them so iconic. Flaherty presents ten key pieces that women should have in their wardrobe from the little black dress to the ideal scarf to the fitted blazer.
As the founder and CEO of Hidden Gems with Grace, Flaherty curates shopping and fashion experiences in Paris and other cities that offer Parisian panache. Also, just last month, Flaherty was named Atlanta Regional Director of Fashion Group International (FGI). With a mission to support women in the fashion industry, FGI offers timely information on national and global fashion trends.
Flaherty had been fixated on fashion and style all her life. When she was in junior high she learned to sew and make clothes. “One of the first pieces of clothing I made was a denim wrap skirt with red and white trim. I wore it forever, “he recalls. In high school acting class he always witnessed the costumes of school plays and musicals. In the beginning one of his style icons was Princess Diana.” I wore ruffled shirts, complete with stockings and matching hats. If I couldn’t find them in the shop or if it was out of my budget, I made it. ”
As much as she loved fashion, she didn’t embrace it as a career until she started working with a French luxury lifestyle magazine after her youngest son started college. “I had a completely different path in my years of study. I studied math and science, “he shares.” But I always shopped for that perfect set I saw on someone else and worked in a retail store while in college. ”
Her parents wanted her to find reliable, well-paid work. “But I wish someone had suggested the fashion industry to me when I was planning my future,” says Flaherty. “Fortunately I had the opportunity to recreate myself during this second chapter of my life. I like to call it the next chapter or a new beginning.”
Jeryl Brunner: How did you get into the fashion industry?
Nancy Flaherty: My first job was writing and editing for, [the French publication], Captivity magazine. I’ve covered things in the US that my French publisher thought would be interesting. I wrote in English and they translated for our print magazine. We also had an online English version of the publication. I have always enjoyed following Paris Fashion Week, especially Fashion Week in January or July.
Brunner: What prompted you to launch your company.
gorgeous: My Parisian publisher of Captendance and I really loved following and writing about small businesses in the fashion industry that needed to be promoted. We wanted to start an online magazine that talks about shopping in Paris from an insider’s perspective and highlights the nice shops and shop owners that aren’t on tourist maps or guides.
As I began to discover new places and kept writing about them, they were constantly asking me for advice on Paris: where to sleep, where to eat and above all where to shop. I started a tour company that takes people shopping for five days in Paris, exploring the city I love and living like a Parisian, shopping in all my favorite boutiques. I wrote my book, French flair 10 essential items for the style and history that make them so iconic, when I was unable to travel to Paris in the first quarter of 2021.
Brunner: Can you tell us about your passion for Paris and what you offer your customers?
gorgeous: I’ve always loved the romance of Paris – the busy city lifestyle and the iconic landmarks of the City of Light. I fell in love with Paris and the more I learned about the city and the history of fashion that resides there. When I travel I love to hunt for special purchases that stand out. My rule is that if I can get it at home I don’t buy it. When I take my clients to Paris, I show them the neighborhoods and introduce them to the boutique owners who have become my friends over the years. My customers, in turn, are treated like friends in the stores we visit together.
Brunner: What do you hope readers get from your book?
gorgeous: Since I started my career as a journalist, I have been continually asked to write articles on indispensable items or on more ways to style a piece of clothing. I knew there were essential pieces in the Parisian woman’s wardrobe and had kept a notebook on what I thought were the perfect items. In my book, I delve into the story behind each iconic piece and why it is so necessary for anyone’s wardrobe looking to exude Parisian style. Each chapter explores an iconic object and the story behind the piece. For example, I have a chapter all about the trench coat: writing about the trench coat, modeling it, finding low-priced, high-priced versions, and then explaining the history of the trench are all in my book.
Brunner: A lot of people have a passion and want to create their own business, but they don’t have the confidence, the courage or the resources. What would I recommend?
gorgeous: Seek the advice of an established business coach or mentor who can answer questions and help you make decisions. I’ve made some bad choices along the way, but I’ve always learned from them. You need to have a passion to keep working even on days when you don’t feel 100% safe. It also helps to have friends to call to encourage your every step and talk to you about tough decisions.