Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen on Their Elizabeth and James Store Opening

Lauren Eggertsen

Today, Elizabeth and James, the contemporary lifestyle brand founded by designers Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, opened its very first brick-and-mortar store right here at The Grove in Los Angeles. In typical Mary-Kate and Ashley fashion, the store is adorned with decorative details reflecting their personal taste, as well as the brand's as a whole. Besides the array of ready-to-wear items, some even exclusive to the store, Elizabeth and James will also be selling accessories, fragrances, and a specially curated (by Ashley and Mary-Kate themselves) selection of vintage decor items. “Mary-Kate and I have always viewed Elizabeth and James as a lifestyle brand and are excited to finally share our vision for the ‘world of Elizabeth and James,’” says Ashley Olsen. 

We were lucky enough to have these two entrepreneurs answer a few questions for us on everything from the interior design of the store to that one item every woman should own by the age of 30. Additionally, their interview is rich in advice for those aiming to start their own company, how to enhance your overall productivity, and how to find that covetable work-life balance we all so desperately crave. Style advice and career advice from two women we have most-likely admired from a very young age? No, this is not too good to be true. 

Keep scrolling to read our full interview with Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, to see exclusive first looks at the store, and to shop some of our favourite pieces from Elizabeth and James. 

PHOTO:

Courtesy of Elizabeth and James 

WHO WHAT WEAR: How does fashion influence the interior design of your boutiques?

MARY-KATE OLSEN: Whether we are designing a collection or a store, we approach the process with the same idea of curation. Curating pieces for her wardrobe or curating a space.

ASHLEY OLSEN: Elizabeth and James celebrates ‘new nostalgia’ and referencing the old with a new fresh perspective. We translated that to the design of the store by incorporating vintage found objects to contrast the modern and clean build-out of the store and the custom-built fixtures. 

PHOTO:

Courtesy of Elizabeth and James 

WWW: Being the CEOs of Dualstar and so many companies under that umbrella, how do you switch off and maintain balance between work and life? Do you believe in balance?

MKO: We work as a team, side-by-side every day.  At times it can get overwhelming, but at the end of day you care so much that you find the energy to keep going. Balance will always be a struggle.

PHOTO:

Courtesy of Elizabeth and James 

WWW: What's the best shoe style to travel in and why?

AO: The Row ‘Bea’ Cashmere Slipper.

WWW: What’s one outfit formula that never fails for NYC girls and why?

MKO: Jeans and a T-shirt. Less is more.

PHOTO:

Courtesy of Elizabeth and James 

WWW: Do you have any morning or evening rituals you swear by? What are some key things you do every morning that kick off the day and enhance your productivity?

MKO: Music helps.

AO: A good night’s sleep.

PHOTO:

Courtesy of Elizabeth and James 

WWW: Track-inspired pants are prominent in the Pre-Fall 16 collection. What’s your opinion on the athleisure trend? What about the proliferation of leggings as everyday wear?

AO: We present our collections the way that real women dress, focusing on a casual sensibility. Our version of the track pant in a sophisticated fabric feels relaxed, but it’s a great item you can dress up or down. 

PHOTO:

Courtesy of Elizabeth and James 

WWW: If you could give five words of advice (or less) to female entrepreneurs what would it be? 

MK: No is a full sentence.

PHOTO:

Courtesy of Elizabeth and James

WWW: Happy (belated) 30th birthday! What’s the number #1 clothing item women should own by age 30 and why?

A: The right underpinnings.

WWW: Which Elizabeth and James piece from the most recent collection should fashion girls invest in?

MKO: The Croc Embossed Eloise Tote, which is available exclusively at our retail store. It’s a functional shape and the embossed croc takes colour so beautifully and looks very luxe.

AO: The zip-front “Brooklyn Biker Jean,” which we brought back. On any given day, one of us is wearing them.

Elizabeth and James Eloise Tote ($660) 

Keep reading to shop pieces from Elizabeth and James we are loving!

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