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How Nicole Richie keeps her company’s DNA intact as it’s pivoting

When Nicole Richie first launched her lifestyle brand, House of Harlow 1960, the TV star felt she had to act more seriously than she otherwise might in order to be taken seriously as a businessperson. After a while, though, she stopped.

“That’s just not who I am,” Richie says of early efforts to tamp down her personality. Nine years later, House of Harlow 1960 is still going strong, expanding into the fine jewelry and apparel space, and as Richie tells Fast Company, part of this success is due to making sure her brand retains its identity as well.

“You’ve got to make sure that you’re keeping your DNA and keeping your signature,” she says. “Taking a moment to look inward and say, ‘Who am I in that category? Out of all the noise, what do I have to say? Why is somebody diving into that?’ Especially when I was still in the wholesale business, you’d meet with a buyer and they’d go, ‘We love it but we don’t like ivory. We’re actually thinking of more of a maroon.’ You make those little compromises, one after the other, and it can be very easy to lose your signature and really lose who you are.”

As Richie continues her pivot from wholesale to direct-to-consumer, the creative director took Fast Company‘s Chris Allen on a House of Harlow tour for our new video series, Passion Project. New episodes of the series will be available every week on our site and YouTube channel.

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