Something Navy aka Arielle Charnas, amongst young United States fashion lovers, is on the way to becoming somewhat of a household name. Starting out blogging about ten years ago, Charnas has been consistent in keeping up with her then ‘hobby’ several times a week. Charnas started out Something Navy by her own admission for, “All the wrong reasons, to get over an ex-boyfriend” However is now a symbolism of all the right things.
A young woman, now mother, creating her own platform to showcase her love of fashion, going on to hire a team of five women, working on multiple collaborations, before beginning a collaboration with Treasure & Bond x Something Navy last year. The success of the collection, selling out most of the pieces it would appear almost within the first day and reportedly netting over 1 million U.S dollars for Nordstrom has now led to Charnas having her own stand alone collaboration with Nordstrom. It goes Monday, 24th September 2018 at 9am EST time and her followers could not be more excited. The collection will be available online, in over 50 stores in the U.S and available in Canada with another collection due out in November which will include some leather and cashmere pieces.
Charnas has a following of over one million, but it’s not even the number of followers the entrepreneur has that is the most impressive, it’s the pure genuineness of Charnas and the interaction she has with her followers and as a result the love they have for her that is the most impressive. The comments flood in whenever she posts a picture, and people genuinely feel an affinity for not just her, but her husband, her beautiful daughters and heck, even her mother in law gets some love.
I was in New York for New York Fashion week, and a highlight on my agenda for the week was to meet with Charnas and her team to preview the upcoming Something Navy collection. Her followers on the daily have been begging Charnas to preview more of the 50 piece collection, which she has been slowly giving sneak peaks of to her eager fans. A knit sweater, a cardigan, the suits, and the teddy coat everyone’s been going wild over.
I walk into the stunning office, which all her followers will have seen on Instagram. The pink wallpaper, beautiful soft pink sofa, and then something we haven’t seen online, the rack of Something Navy collection for Nordstrom behind the computer work station which houses the full collection.
Nikki Weisman, the brand manager is there to greet me and later, Anna Chudnovsky head of Social Media and photographer joins.
Nikki walks me through the entire collection and I have to say, it’s gorgeous. Charnas has prided herself on creating elevated basics, a term coined that actually might have previously been seen as a negative term, Charnas has made chic, accessible, wearable and adds a fashion forward twist to the regular pieces in your wardrobe.
Stacy Fan with Brand Manager, Nikki Weisman
Stacy Fan with Something Navy Social Media Coordinator / photographer Anna Chudnoovsky
You see this is the thing about Charnas, she knows her followers. She has invaluable market research and crowd sourcing right at her finger tips because she’s able to simply ask them what they want and she gets an instant response, so this collection is really for them, but equally has Charnas’s stamp all over it.
The collection is all under $200 USD and suitable for both mother and daughter to wear whilst the pieces are all designed to be styled multiple ways. Learning from the previous collection of what was the most popular, Charnas has brought back the sweaters, but as Weisman tells me, “Everything is super soft, it was really important for Arielle to have everything really soft and wearable. She hates itchy knits.”
Charnas and the Nordstrom team have certainly achieved this, everything from the sweaters, blouses, and knits are all amazingly soft, as in you could quite happily sleep in them, soft.
The Something Navy brand is quickly becoming a recognizable collection, something every designer hopes for, creating pieces that are so Arielle that it’s not hard to see why her fans want a piece of them. We’ve got the cardigan, that Charnas is trying to single handedly revive, in its two tone detailing, styled with a belt, she might achieve it, right the way through to the shoulder detailing she’s created on many of her pieces. The suits are another knock out, stunning in their cut, and bang on trend for the coming season, they're work to play, and come in black, pink and ice blue. There’s also a stand out pleated blouse that has a collar detail that stays up, and a couple of pairs of jeans at just the right mid-rise fit are even in there.
Charnas knows that her followers don’t love color as much as she does, but she’s woven it into the collection, as she feels just because it’s fall, doesn’t mean we need to be shrouded in dark tones. Splashes of color come in the form of an orange soft knit, the bib detailing shirt in pink, a gorgeous orange shirt, with a square neck and shoulder detail and a floral fabric on another gorgeous shirt.
Some of the real hero pieces I predict will be a sell out are the two teddy coats that are even softer than her previous designs, available in ice blue and beige. A menswear inspired coat in navy and white houndstooth, and then there’s the striking silk deep blue dress, that almost looks like it could be a vintage piece and of course the suits. Another special piece is the white pants that Charnas admits she was worried about creating as some people are afraid of white, but she went ahead and made them anyway, and we’re all going to be glad she did. Perfectly cut, can be worn with the entire collection, and not see-through makes them a winner. Charnas has worn them a number of times herself already, including the brand launch dinner with Nordstrom. She later tells me, “I wanted to give an alternative option of how to style a lot of the tops in the collection. So we went for it. Nordstrom said it was really big for their customers, so we decided to take the chance and it wound up being one of my favorite pieces because I love how it looks with everything.”
Even the t-shirts have some special details on them, with mock neck shirts, that aren’t tight, but the perfect bagginess, and then there’s the everyday skirts, that will take you from office to bar.
Accessories haven’t been left out either with some scarves that can be worn as a belt, in your hair or simply tied around your neck. Statement necklaces and earrings, under $50 USD and all compliment the pieces within the collection, as do the beautiful shoes included, with pops of color as well as neutrals and all sitting under $150.
After I've finished reviewing the collection, Charnas is stuck in traffic, coming from a couple of shows that morning it looks like we can’t meet to interview. I head out of the office ready to send over my questions via email, say goodbye to both Nikki and Anna and head out.
Several minutes later I’m just outside the building and I get a call from Nikki, Charnas rushed back and is in the office. I head back upstairs and as I do, Charnas is in the conference room, standing next to a mound of McDonalds bags, wearing skinny jeans, pumps, a white t-shirt and Balmain Blazer, her uniform of late, and has a fry in her mouth. She turns to me, “I am so sorry I was late.” as she extends her hand out to give me a warm handshake. I tell her no worries at all, I know fashion week is nuts. “Yes, it was my last show, fashion week for me is over! Can I get you a water?” Charnas heads over to the fridge, hands me the water, and we settle on the couch to talk about how she got started with her blog, how she handles her life constantly being on social media and of course, the new collection.
Charnas has done something very few other fashion bloggers have been able to do, that’s to keep her followers engaged, continue to build her following when, let’s be honest many other fashion blogger followers are dropping like flies.
The reason it would seem, is because Charnas is doing something quite rare, allowing her fans into her life in the most unfiltered way (pictures and instagram stories alike) and all the while despite her growing success, has remained true to herself, unapologetic in her views, the way she raises her children as well as her body image, and we couldn’t love it more.
When I’m posting on Instastories or Instagram I really don’t think twice about it. Sometimes it’s a bad thing, but honestly, I just picture my family, my husband and my friends that are the only people watching my instastories. It’s a good thing, but then it can get me in trouble and I should be careful with the things I do and say
However I have to wonder, how has she managed to not fall into the trap of over editing? “Staying true to yourself is remembering why you started doing it in the first place. Putting looks together, photographing them, interacting with my followers, meeting people from all around the world, that’s what made me happiest, so even ten years later even though all these other things are all going on, I still make sure to continue doing the thing that I started with, which is putting together my looks, taking photos of them. Interacting with all the girls that follow me. I’m very lucky, because I started this as a hobby and it wound up being a career which is incredible, and it never feels like work. That’s what’s kept me pretty grounded with it all. And really when I’m posting on Instastories or Instagram I really don’t think twice about it. Sometimes it’s a bad thing, but honestly, I just picture my family, my husband and my friends that are the only people watching my instastories. It’s a good thing, but then it can get me in trouble and I should be careful with the things I do and say” Charnas laughs.
But do they backfire, I ask Charnas? “No not really, I mean I get a lot of backlash as a mother which is the worst thing. I’ve definitely gotten a lot of negative comments on different things in my life, but you know, I’m a pretty confident person and pretty secure, but when it comes to something that I’m not super confident about or secure about which is parenting, because it’s new to me, that definitely hits a spot when people yell at me for certain parenting ways.” Charnas doesn’t let this stop her though. Insecure or not, she knows that her private life is what she’s built her following on, and her children are her life, so she can’t or won’t omit them from it, “My whole platform is documenting my life, and my journey and my kids are my life now so it’s naturally going to evolve.”
Now that the Something Navy brand is officially launching, Arielle Charnas and Something Navy are becoming two separate entities, “We hired Anna to help with Social Media. She’s planned all of the social media content out on a new Instagram account. We originally had the Something Navy Brand but over the last couple of weeks with the launch and us teasing it just made more sense (to separate them). My Instagram account is all personal lifestyle pictures, so I just felt it made more sense to be Arielle Charnas, and then the brand that we’re getting ready to launch be Something Navy not Something Navy Brand because that’s not what it’s called. So we made that move and it’s nice because I get to still keep my account Arielle Charnas free and post whatever I want on the fly, but Anna is more calculated about what she posts on Something Navy. So that’s all planned out, she shoots, she edits, she makes it look beautiful so that’s curated content on Something Navy, so it’s a nice balance.”
Having been visible on our Instagram feeds for sometime now, it would be easy to forget there was a time that Charnas wasn’t doing brand collaborations, but what was the defining moment that Charnas realized this could be a career? “The defining moment was the TRESemmé commercial. That was a huge, huge moment for me in my career. It was international, we actually filmed it in Poland, I was 12 weeks pregnant, a lot of things were happening, but it was definitely the biggest moment where I released this is my job, like wow, this is pretty incredible. And then of course that opportunity I had with Nordstrom with Treasure & Bond, that for sure was the turning point and now of course launching the stand alone brand is pinnacle for sure.”
I love all the coats. The coats I think are incredible and there are a lot of really great button downs, the cardigan, we love cardigans here, we’re trying to bring them back. I love all the suits. I mean how do I choose?!
This collection is totally for her Something Navy followers, and for Arielle and her team, “We’ve had so much freedom. It’s been so much fun. We’re basically making things that we want, like I want that sweater in a different color and with a shoulder. Or we need a t-shirt with a mock neck! Where do we do that, where do we find that?” Well she didn’t find it, so she made it, “It’s been incredible!” Some of her favorite pieces? “Oh that’s so hard to pick, I love all the coats. The coats I think are incredible and there are a lot of really great button downs, the cardigan, we love cardigans here, we’re trying to bring them back. I love all the suits. I mean how do I choose?! Oh you know what, the pleated blouse is definitely a favorite.”
With this collection, Charnas has undoubtedly taken on board her followers view point, and tweaked the collection based on what they want, “I love color but I know that my followers like to play it safe with neutrals so we added a lot of neutrals to a lot of the pieces, we definitely asked them about sweater colors and let them choose based off of the polls that we do. Also for the shoes, originally they wanted a different color and so we added that in, we were not planning to. My followers really trust us and are really loyal, so it’s important for us to get their opinion. My followers are amazing, they’re incredible!”
Charnas certainly doesn't take her followers for granted. Despite how many comments she gets she says she reads them all, “ I do, I read all of them. It’s fun. I try to reply to as many as I can. I really enjoy reading the comments.”
Now Charnas has her own line, her collaborations with other brands as well as being a mom of two, there’s a lot to fit in one day and it’s not easy, but she seems to have a good handle on the balance, “Everyday is a challenge I mean I try to find ways to prioritize. I usually spend the first 2-3 hours of my morning with my kids and my husband. Then I come into the office, get a lot of work done. My daughter takes a nap at 12pm and my newborn is napping every three hours so I usually stay here until 2.30pm and then I go back home and I spent a lot of the afternoon with them. And I always spend my night with my husband, whether it’s ordering in, watching a show, going to dinner or even an event. It’s nice to have that time.”
I wonder how reality TV stars handle having to constantly put their lives out there, and in some ways, it’s no different for Charnas who has made her life her work. How does she feel about it, and are there days when she doesn’t want to post or be on Insta Stories? “Oh my gosh, yes” She laughs. “I haven’t had it for a while but it’s usually when something happens and people attack me. I once posted a picture of my daughter when she was like, one, on the beach and her bum was out, she was in a bathing suit, she had a sandy toosh and I posted it because it’s the cutest thing ever and people went nuts over it. Telling me I was a horrible parent. And when that happened I thought why do I do this? Why do I let people do this to me? And I think then I took about 4 days off. But it felt nice, to take a step back before doing anything rash. I think sometimes it’s necessary. But I haven’t done it since. I can’t imagine doing it again.”
I ask Charnas what the biggest learning curve has been with regard to launching her line? “The amount of people and departments involved. There’s zippers, there’s buttons, there’s manufacturers, there’s fabrics, there’s marketing. It’s incredible what kind of a machine you have to have to create a successful brand.”
However despite the amount of people involved, it wasn’t overwhelming to Charnas who feels right at home with Nordstrom, “Nordstrom are such a well oiled machine. They know exactly how this goes down, everytime you meet with them they are so organized, it’s a weight lifted off of our shoulders.”
What has also been a surprise to Charnas in terms of stepping behind the camera and becoming someone on the design side is just how much planning goes on when launching a line, “What really opened my eyes was what goes into planning the events, we email influencers, we reach out to editors and publicists. I think you can just appreciate so much more what they do. Like I get invited to dinners and events and last minute we’ll cancel if something comes up or I can’t go. But it’s opened my eyes to how important it is to attend as much as you can and to network and meet people. To just have the support from your industry is so important and that’s pushed me to be more proactive to being involved.”
Charnas’s future as a designer is certainly looking bright, she’s already set to have a number of other collections with Nordstrom and in terms of looking into the future, Charnas says she’s not ruling out her own store, “We would love to have stores at some point but we’re not even close to being near there yet. We want to expand, we want to build out a lot of different categories and I’m just excited to see how everyone reacts to the collection and just go from there. But having the brand has always been a dream. We’re just starting and I think we have so much more to offer.”
Charnas knows at this point, she’s very U.S and Canada based, so what about her global ambitions? “I mean, I need to expand so much. I definitely need to expand. We need to travel more, as a team, we definitely want to try to make an effort. The last couple of years it was really tough because I’ve been pregnant. I kind of haven’t really had the opportunity to go out of the States but that is a goal going forward.” With the launch of her stunning line, and much more to follow, I’m sure her international fans won't be far behind.
The Something Navy collection is available at Nordstrom
Photo Credit: Arielle Charnas and Something Navy Instagram.