The secret to Conna’s success is that she is at the heart of her companies, House of CB and sister brand Mistress Rocks. She controls every aspect of the process, from designing in-house which takes 12 weeks alone then and producing in her own factories. She deeply understands her consumer because they are a reflection of her.
She revealed, “I split my time between Los Angeles and London. My days are varied, in L.A we do a lot of shoots and I’m hands on, I do all the creative direction and sign off all the images. Our design studio is London, so I focus more on design when I am there. I set a monthly theme, sign off each design and sit in on the fittings.”
Conna has been credited as bringing affordable luxury to the high street with House of CB. She wants to encourage consumers to invest in clothes that they can wear for years rather than fast fashion.
She said, “The culture is to wear things once and post a picture in it on Instagram but I wear my House of CB dresses again and again. I have pieces that I love and if I am not feeling that great about myself, I know those dresses work time and time again.” Conna credits much of her success to sheer luck but what Conna has is talent, razor-sharp intelligence and a deep understanding of the consumer, as though they are her best friend.
She said humbly, “Sometimes I beat myself up because I’m 10 years into this business and I’m still not where I wanted to be. Then on the hand, I’ve been building this since I was 17-years-old and I’m kind of surprised I’m still here. “ She continued with a wry smile, “Let’s be honest, all brands have a lifespan, most won’t be here forever, I see so many brands have a moment where they are really hot and then they disappear but we’ve managed to stay relevant and grow.” She added, “House of CB has always made sexy clothes but tastes change, what that looked like in 2010 and what it looks like in 2020 are entirely different. You can evolve and still stay true to your core values, that’s how you survive.”
House of CB may be wildly successful now but there was a time when Conna had serious doubts about its and her future. She confessed. “When I was 22-years-old, I had come out of an abusive relationship and was very depressed. I didn’t know who I was and rather than trusting my own tastes I was relying on trends and it wasn’t working, customers didn’t like it.”
She continued, “I’ve grown up with the company, we are very parallel but back but then I was doubting myself and I began questioning whether this was the end of the road.”
She added sincerely, “I probably looked like I had it all together from the outside but I was falling apart. Your personal life can really affect your work life, some days are grey and others are great.” Conna’s learnt the hard way that it is fundamental to prioritise your wellbeing as well as success. She knows first-hand the consequences of allowing herself to burn out.
She laughed and shook her head knowingly, then said, “People say to sleep when you’re dead, that is crazy. The lead up to Christmas is our busiest time and usually every year I get badly sick, last year I had bronchitis and stomach issues.” She added, “Sometimes you have to soldier on, get your big girl pants on and fucking handle it but it is okay to say no too and prioritise yourself sometimes.”
For those wanting to follow in Conna’s footsteps and build an empire of their own, she offered some fundamental pearls of wisdom. She advised, “The problem is that people want to run before they can walk. When I started I didn’t have the resources, knowledge or even the taste I have now. Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t. Keep aiming for more and more and you will grow and grow.”
She added, “I constantly critique my brands, what we are doing well at and what we can improve on. I don’t take it personally if something doesn’t work anymore. It isn’t a problem if you make a mistake, the issue is learning how to not make it again.”
She concluded, “Don’t be afraid to ask yourself if you are doing the best you can, let the ego go. Most importantly, no matter what it is you want to do, just fucking start, there is never going to be a perfect time, the time is now.”