Conna Walker is the 24-year-old designer behind celeb fave House of CB
Now I’ve met many bad ass females, but no one is like Conna Walker.
At 24 years old, she’s managed to create an amazing brand that has been seen on your favorite celebrities like Beyonce and JLo. In our interview we talk House of CB, entrepreneurship and how she got over her depression by pouring herself into her business for four years.
If you want to know how she did it and more about your fave brand, keep reading.
What’s your background and how would you describe what you do? Tell us your story.
I created a clothing brand and we design for women who want to be sexy and still powerful. I didn’t have any training in design or business but I started by selling items on eBay when I was 17, eventually that turned into me designing, which in turn ended up with a design studio with three designers and stores around the world. I’m super hands on, a little OCD in that sense, nothing from clothing design to our Instagram feed happens without me signing it off!
How would you describe your journey of becoming a business owner?
I love the hustle, I love challenges and it’s for sure been a challenge and at some points I’ve definitely felt like I’m not sure if I can keep doing this, but in the end I love my work and I love my brand and for the most part it’s been thoroughly enjoyable and I’ve learned so much.
What are some challenges that you faced during your journey creating this brand?
I started by purchasing wholesale pieces, not designing. So one of the most difficult parts was turning from store to brand that only sells in-house designed pieces, and effectively rewriting our whole brand perception. It definitely took time and at first it was a slow burner as we had to make our customers understand our new brand, but it worked out in the end! I would also say that we fill a niche in the market of “affordable luxury” and that’s a double edged sword because we always have to stay on top of our game and stay relevant in a world of fast disposable fashion.
You have so much support from various celebrities, why do you think this is?
We are really fortunate to have so much support from celebrities and stylists alike, I think it comes down to they really love the product. We aren’t mass produced so we make sure our quality is up there with the best along with our fit. We’ve always had feedback that celebrities can put on our pieces without it being tailored and it fits perfectly which I think has really helped us. We also release new products every Monday so we always have new pieces for them to play with.
How did you get celebrities like Beyoncé, The Kardashians and Jennifer Lopez to rock your pieces? How did this exposure change things for your business?
We worked really hard to make great connections with their stylists and our placements have always been organic from the celebrities themselves choosing them from a rail of options. We do try create the best clothing we can, our pieces tend to be pretty sexy and there aren’t many brands that have so many options of sexy but still chic clothing so I think that works in our favor too.
Have you ever reached out to celebrities via social media to try to get them to wear your designs?
100%, when I was 18 or 19 in my bedroom I would sit and DM celebrities all day long and it worked! Social media was less flooded then and there were less brands on social media doing that so I had a pretty good response and built from there. Social media has been a huge part of our marketing.
With so much celebrity love, why did you decide to keep it accessible for your everyday girl clients?
When I started the brand, I was the girl I was designing for, and I still am. That’s what I love about House of CB, that it’s for girls by girls. I love to go out and see girls out and about in House of CB. We started as a commercial brand, so we will always stay that way, but I would love to do another label that is more premium!
Tell us about a moment where you felt like your brand was finally reaching the level of success you hoped for.
The first moment was when JLo wore our red skirt on her “AKA” cover! I was so excited, but at the same time once I reach one goal I move to another so I always feel like we can do more, do better.
Being only 24 with a fashion label, how has this changed you personally? How have you grown?
I’m naturally a pretty shy person, so it’s made me really learn to talk to people and be less shy and push myself forward even if I feel super uncomfortable. It’s made me a lot more grateful too but aside from that, I’m pretty much the same, for me it’s work but I love what I do so it rarely feels like it.
Did you have a specific body type in mind when designing? Is this body type still the same or has it changed since your brand has grown?
I don’t think there’s necessarily a specific body type we design for but we do really focus on creating curves and highlighting curves so that our pieces are flattering and feminine.
What are your best-selling items? What are your personal favorite items?
Our specific best sellers change from month to month, we put out so much new product that it always changes but in general our form fitting dresses have always been our bread and butter pieces. We’re doing so many more separates and also a big swimwear collection next year which I’m really excited for.
What has been the most useful tool or outlet that you’ve used to keep your business flourishing?
Social media has 100% been the most useful tool, we’ve built our brand on it. It’s given us a free way (which was so important when starting out with no money) to show our products, to be creative, to reach out to celebrities. It’s also given us access to our customers so that they can respond to us in real time, they can let us know what they like and don’t like and we can learn from it immediately rather than waiting weeks or months to see if a product works.
You mentioned starting off with no money, what were the initial steps you took to get your brand going? Where did you invest your money?
Stock, that’s the only place I spent anything was buying some stock. I started on eBay and since then everything has been self-funded, the brand has no debt or investors. It’s grown at a scalable manageable rate. I used to get my mom to take pics of me wearing the pieces and I’d put them on eBay.
Tell us about a challenging time in your life that you overcame and how you did so?
Personally, I was in a very physically and mentally abusive relationship from when I was 18 to 22 and I used my work as a way to focus and eventually managed to leave that relationship but it did really change me as a person and I, for a little while, slipped into what was probably some kind of depression. I also struggled with being a relatively strong woman and strong business person and felt that being in that kind of relationship meant I was weak, which later I realized wasn’t the case. But for me as with work, I decided that I wasn’t going to accept that anymore and I decided what I wanted from my life and made sure I achieved that and kept going regardless of how down I was feeling.
In the business sense, I think the rebranding and then us staying on top of our game has been the hardest thing. Business doesn’t come with a manual and things that work for other people may not work for you, you have to constantly evolve and be creative and outsmart others so that’s been the hardest thing to overcome and learn.
With House of CB being a U.K. brand, how did you grow so popular in America?
I’m British and I know British culture inside out so it was pretty easy for me to grow the brand organically there, I used a similar formula of social media and celebrity gifting but I did have to learn more about American culture and specifically pop culture to do the same in the US. Fortunately it worked out!
What are a few things you’ve learned since becoming a business owner?
That pretty much all businesses are constantly evolving, you have to constantly listen to your customer and evolve with them too. Lack of change is what makes most companies who do get to a good place, fall off because they didn’t evolve alongside their customer, but another company.
What do you want your followers to take from this interview? What is the overall takeaway from your story?
I think that my story is mainly about not accepting no for an answer and always relying on yourself to get where you want and figure out whatever you need to, and doing whatever you need to to achieve your goals, regardless of not having specific schooling or training. I think that the classic path of going to a university, doing internships etc. isn’t the only way to achieve success and as a culture we focus too much on classic ways of being successful and alienating people who don’t necessarily thrive in those environments.