Carine Vinett is the creator of The Best Friend – a new game-changing product that helps women zip up the back of their dress without the help of others. It’s revolutionizing how women get dressed and is quickly taking the world by storm. She’s the CEO (Chic Executive Officer) and Founder of ChicShop – a company dedicated to creating products that make women’s lives better, easier & chicer. We had the chance to sit down with her and chat about her path to success.
Carine, can you tell us a little bit about you?
I grew up in Brooklyn and was entrepreneurial from an early age. I was the girl who made it her goal to sell the most boxes of Girl Scout cookies, the most candy for her school, you name it. I’ve always been social and a big people person and these traits led me to a career in media.
I started as a Sales Assistant at InStyle and at the time working there was like getting an Ivy League Education in publishing. I like to joke that it was like The Devil Wears Prada without the drama. I got lucky in that it allowed me to combine my love of fashion with my knack for business and I wanted more.
I’ve spent the last 15 years in media and have been fortunate enough to have worked on some of the world’s biggest brands like People, Glamour and Real Simple.
How did the idea for the Best Friend come to be? What was the magic “I have to do this” moment?
I was on a business trip in LA and was getting ready for a client dinner. I was meeting this client for the first time, was running late and for the life of me I couldn’t zip up my jumpsuit.
I was on the clock, late for dinner (which wouldn’t make for a good first impression) and my mind was racing. I started to sweat, my blowout started to frizz and I was super frustrated. I thought to myself women can do anything – we can run for president, be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, birth babies – but we couldn’t zip up the back of our own clothes. That had to change!
In 2011, I was working at Real Simple (whose mission is to make everyday life easier) and I remember standing in front of my closet getting ready for work. I was trying to zip up the back of my dress but could only zip it halfway, and I thought – there has GOT to be a better way to do this! That was the first time I thought about inventing The Best Friend. I didn’t know where to start so I took a bungee cord and tied a hook on it and that was my first prototype. Over the years I created more and more protos until the product was perfect and ultimately created The Best Friend you see today (above).
The Best Friend is for everyone: women, men, all ages, all ethnicities and all sizes. We provide an easy solution to common everyday problem and have fun while doing it.
We started selling The Best Friend last November just in time for the holidays and the response was incredible. People were buying 2 at a time (1 for them and 1 for a friend) and some people were buying 5, 6 + pieces – one for each person on their list. It was surreal, super exciting and I knew we had a winner.
The Best Friend is available for sale on Amazon, on our website bestfriendzip.com and it’s carried at the NYC boutique Coop + Spree. We’re getting ready for the holidays and are expecting a very busy season – at $29.99 The Best Friend is at a great price point and it’s the perfect stocking stuffer for girlfriends, Mom, even Grandma!
We also have plans to roll out our 2nd Best Friend Sasha who is a person of color in the next few weeks. We want to make sure everyone has a best friend that they feel represents them so there are additional models in the works. With The Best Friend you’re never alone – we’ve got your back!
What were the challenges of creating your own business, and what advice would you give someone who wants to turn their great idea into reality?
It’s been a journey and I feel so lucky to be chasing my dream. The road to The Best Friend has been exciting, exhilarating, at times overwhelming – but overall it’s been life changing and fun. I’ve met so many smart and inspiring people along the way and I know there is so much more in store. People have said The Best Friend could be the next Spanx so I’m trying to make that dream a reality (Sara Blakely call me 😊).
If you want to create a product your idea should be a silver bullet – smart, forward thinking and creative. They say some of the best products solve a problem and that’s just what we set out to do with The Best Friend. We live in a super busy world where consumers have endless options so you need to think about how your product will stand out and break through the clutter.
Do your homework, sound it off objective friends and family and research the competitive landscape. If everything checks out and you truly believe in your bones that you have a great idea and this is the one (it’s kind of like meeting your husband) – then go for it.
Be smart, work hard and enlist the help of others where possible. Create a business plan, put together a roadmap for success (long term and short term) and get ready to hit the pavement. Being an entrepreneur is a lot like dating, it’s a #s game. Be fearless, work harder than everybody else and always believe that something wonderful is about to happen. Positivity is key!
Once you get started, you have to think about every detail from creating your first prototype, to production, finances, marketing and a million other things you may or may not have had any experience with. Sometimes I feel like a mouse running through a maze but this product is a gamechanger and won’t stop until every household has a Best Friend.
There is also a big learning curve. I have to shout out my partner Hatzimemos/Libby which is a strategy and venture firm in NYC that specializes in high-growth businesses that add value to society with a special focus on female and minority entrepreneurs. Their critical thinking and strategy has helped me evaluate and elevate my own plans and has helped me shape The Best Friend into what is it today. They have inspired me to think BIG and expand The Best Friend into other markets like the wedding space, retail and hotels (remember that business trip in LA? 😊)
With all that said running your own business can be challenging but it doesn’t feel like work to me because I believe so strongly in my product.
Any words of inspiration for Momtrepreneurs/small businesses during the pandemic?
The pandemic has absolutely made things crazier but it’s also allowed people to slow down and focus on what’s truly important. I’m lucky to share this time with my husband and my daughter but with The Best Friend, my day job, virtual schooling and daily life I’m constantly in motion.
With that said, I think a lot of great ideas will be born during this time. Instagram and Uber both launched during the last recession. I think people are sitting down, problem solving, thinking and reflecting and the next big ideas will be on the horizon.
Being an entrepreneur has granted me access to a special community, you’re a part of a club where everyone helps everyone else and people want to see you win. That has been one of the coolest parts for me. Success takes time but stay the course and you’ll get there.
Any fall fashion tips for us?
As you can imagine I love dresses of all kinds from short to shorter, midi to maxi. I wear dresses on Zoom calls or when I go out because it’s an easy way to look chic and polished. With the weather getting cooler I’ve been adding a leather moto jacket, a sweater, or a cute cropped cardigan. I’m also a big fan of high waist jeans (my fav is a medium, beat up blue) and that’s actually what I’m wearing right now, with a white blouse and a statement necklace. I love love love statement jewelry. Another rule of thumb for me is quality over quantity. I have some investment pieces in my closet from Missoni and Victoria Beckham that I’ve had forever and I’ll pair them with trendier pieces from Topshop and Zara to keep it fresh.
How do you balance Mom life and Momtrepreneur life?
I love being a Mom and love spending time with my daughter Valentina. She’s 6, super fun and super sassy! Making time for myself is also important. My former boss Cece used to say in case of emergency put an oxygen mask on yourself first. I try to go out once or twice a week for lunch or dinner with friends. It’s nice to put on a dress and heels, especially in this crazy time.
Being a mom is rewarding and can be hard at times but it’s incredible to see life through my daughter’s eyes. She’s already so aware of business and loves The Best Friend. She wants to go on Shark Tank (she said she’d partner with Lori and Barbara) and gets excited when we have a big sales day.
“Having it all” means different things to different people, but I’m happiest when I can balance time with my family, work and time for myself with moments that bring true joy. It makes all the hard work worth it.
With Thanks to Carine,
Once an Estée Lauder Marketing Executive, Michelle is now a Care Skincare Staff Writer and a big fan of their simple approach to skincare. She lives with her husband and two small children, who keep her busy 23/7.