CollegeFashionista: Where do you go to school and what was your major?
Neely Burch: I graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History.
CF: What opportunities did you take advantage of in college that helped you start your own business?
NB: What I’ve found is that being an entrepreneur means doing a little (and sometimes a lot) of everything. In college, I wanted to participate in many different clubs and leadership opportunities. Learning to balance those endeavors really allowed me to understand how to manage all the different tasks and deadlines, and most importantly, when to delegate.
CF: What has been the most rewarding part of starting your own business?
NB: For me, the exposure to new challenges has been the most rewarding experience throughout this whole process. That includes everything from understanding the nuances of managing a team of all ages and experience levels to leaning to drive a 30-foot airstream on I-95!
CF: What has been the most challenging experience you have had since starting Neely by VNB and how do you overcome it?
NB: Learning to adapt. Ordinarily, I like to organize down to the smallest detail. This fall, we quickly realized everything doesn’t always go according to plan. The moment we decided to accept that operational hiccups are inevitable was game changer. (By the way, that “moment” may or may not have been when I found myself driving the airstream across the GW Bridge.) We realized it was our reactions to the obstacles that mattered. With that in mind, we were then able to make the most out of every tour stop and create the best experience for each and every one of our customers.
CF: Describe your personal style in three words.
NB: Classic, chic, timeless.
CF: Style varies from campus to campus, so how do you curate a collection of clothes and accessories that you think will appeal to multiple campuses?
NB: Our buying team has worked incredibly hard to make sure that our assortment has something for every girl, while still remaining true to our own style and our vision for the company. By curating a wide selection of brands (we have about 30 on board), we were able to pick and choose the best of the best from each of our vendors. With both higher end and affordable items as well as both established and up and coming designers, we believe every girl on campus can find something that’s missing from her closet.
CF: What are you most looking forward to on your campus tours with NEELmobile?
NB: Each season holds a whole new set of exciting encounters. We will be visiting at least 14 new campuses this season and I am really looking forward to seeing each reaction- it’s always different. We have some exciting new additions this spring, including partnering up with Catey Shaw for live music at four lucky stops! Each time we visit a new campus, it gives us the opportunity to get to know the ‘Neely Girl’ even better and grow as a company to suit her needs.
CF: Any advice you would give to college students who have entrepreneurial goals?
NB: Go for it! At least for me, it was a very intimidating leap to take, but in my opinion, now’s the time. Do your research, make sure you’ve got some good friends around who are willing to listen to your stories about uphill battles, the unbeaten path, and even the smallest of victories, and then…dive in.