After doing interior design for 20 years, Colleen Waguespack branched out and created a line of upscale Christmas decorations, Fig & Dove, which are designed to complement the soft neutral color palettes of today’s homes. By collaborating with well-known artisans across the United States, Waguespack adds unique style and creates heirloom-quality Christmas decorations that can be passed down for generation.
Alice chatted with Waguespack about the hurdles she’s faced as an entrepreneur and what to expect from Fig & Dove.
What was your biggest discovery in 2017?
The ease of working with artisans in Peru and the quality of their craftsmanship. This year, we traveled to Peru for their annual national trade show and launched an alpaca collection, including Christmas stockings and tree skirts. We were so pleased with our experience in Peru and with the quality of workmanship from this artisan group. Plus, the United States has a bilateral free trade agreement with Peru, which makes importing goods affordable.
What hurdles did you face in 2017, and how did you navigate them?
We scaled quickly this year, as we fully launched into the wholesale market. One of the challenges we faced was maintaining our high level of craftsmanship, as we manufactured in larger quantities.
After investing heavily into one manufacturer that was not able to meet our sensitive deadlines, we had to turn to legal counsel to help us navigate. One of the biggest lessons learned here is that you can’t afford to not have legal counsel, especially when entering into uncharted waters.
What is getting you pumped up for 2018?
We’ve developed relationships with some overseas artisan groups over the past year and are excited to produce a wider variety of pieces at a more competitive price point. This opens up the door to more exclusive collections for larger scale retailers and private resorts.
When you’re not thinking about business, what occupies your daydreams?
I love thinking about where my kids will be in five years and 10 years. I have three boys who are 14, 12, and 10. They are already so different from one another. Each attends a different school in Baton Rouge, but each is truly in the right environment for their personality. They have always been part of the Fig & Dove team — they each help the business in their own way, from helping with packing and shipping to providing much-needed moral support.
What is in your “entrepreneurship” emergency kit?
Business and entrepreneur podcasts for long car drives — I especially enjoy listening to Ali Brown’s Glambition Radio. I love how she starts by asking the woman she is interviewing where they are doing the interview from, and half are locked in their bedroom, which is classic for many female entrepreneurs.
Also, positive and supportive people — entrepreneurship is a roller coaster, and it’s imperative to have a positive outlook no matter which way the chips may fall. We have a great team of all women at Fig & Dove and fill in seasonal positions with interns from LSU (who bring us the extra youth and energy we need!).
I lean heavily on my family and friends, as they have all reached out and expanded our reach further than I could have on my own. Growing up I went to Sacred Heart, a Catholic all-girls school in New Orleans, for 14 years. That school laid the foundation for a balanced approach to life: family, faith, professional life, and philanthropy. And the extended Sacred Heart network across the country has opened countless doors over the past three years. I think it’s why I believe so strongly in women in business, networking and supporting each other, and why Alice and the Circular Board Accelerator resonated so strongly with me.