MEET OUR MENTOR: CARLYE MORGAN @ CHALONNE
Chalonne’s luxury women’s watch bands bring elegant, expressive style and timeless design to any Apple Watch. Crafted with care in France, these brilliant bands incorporate the finest leathers, unique gemstones, and 14k solid gold into their stunning designs. Founded in 2019 by LA native Carlye Morgan, the brand is a marriage of her love for bold, confident, enduring everyday style and her appreciation for the technology of today. Chalonne’s unique pieces adorn the wrists of women who appreciate accessories with uncompromising quality and chic design to complement their personal style. Giving back and empowering women is built into Chalonne’s culture. Since day one, Chalonne has donated 4% of the purchase price for every band sold online to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Why did you decide to launch a product based business? What was the most challenging? Any advice for others?
For my entire life, I’ve always had an artistic mind and a passion for design. I loved expressing myself through drawing and painting and studied art history at the University of Pennsylvania. While I loved the arts, I ultimately decided to pursue advertising – where I could marry my creative side to the reliability of a business career. Although this granted me a breadth of invaluable marketing and strategic business experiences, I always had an inkling I would return to my artistic roots and become a designer.
The biggest challenge to becoming an entrepreneur was having the courage to take the leap and leave the corporate world. My husband was integral in supporting the decision to pursue my passion and start my own business. He encouraged me to step down from corporate life, focus on being a mom while setting aside time for myself to reset and find the balance that was badly lacking from my life. And it turned out to be exactly what I needed. I was able to hit the reset button, and without the daily pressure, I had the space to be creative. It was during that time that I developed the initial concept that evolved into Chalonne.
My inspiration and thought process for Chalonne emerged organically when I purchased my first Apple Watch a few years ago. I loved my watch and the easy access to all the amazing features and apps, but wasn’t satisfied with the accompanying silicone band. I did some research and couldn’t find any high-quality Apple Watch bands out there. I didn’t want to sacrifice my personal style to sport the latest tech, and I knew other women must have felt the same way. Given that the smart watch market is projected to reach almost $100 billion in sales in 2025 and the luxury goods market will hit nearly $400 billion by 2025, it seemed like fertile ground to carve out a niche. I had been wanting to start my own business for a while and I had so many design ideas in my head. So I decided to solve the problem myself.
I quickly learned that entrepreneurs require grit. If you have an idea that you believe in, you need to have the resiliency to stick with it. You have to be in it for the long haul and have a 10+ year outlook, so I try to avoid situations with arbitrary deadlines. It can be slow-going at first but it’s all about perseverance. You need to lean into what is working and pivot when something is obviously not–Be ok with ‘taking a hit’. You’ll make many mistakes but those mistakes have inherent value. You also need to have a healthy relationship with rejection, which just comes with the territory, so you can’t let it knock you down. I’ve heard the word “no” more times than I can count, but you need to just keep on persisting until you get a “yes”. Because they will come. You just need to keep at it and be patient.
On your website you mention that your product is made by craftsmen in Pelousey, a city where watch craftsmanship has been a part of their DNA for generations. Why did you decide to go this route manufacture somewhere else?
I initially wanted to manufacture in either the U.S. or Europe–locations with a rich history of fine leather craftsmanship which would also signal luxury. However, finding the right partner proved to be challenging. Since I was creating a luxury brand, I had very high standards and the materials and craftsmanship needed to be the best possible quality. After an extensive search, and a few starts and stops, I found the perfect partner in Manufacture Jean Rousseau. Jean Rousseau lends Chalonne over 60 years of expertise and its artisanal heritage working with some of the world’s most prestigious luxury brands. They were incredibly enthusiastic and supportive of the line from the start. It was clear they could deliver a superb product which was paramount, but they have also been amazing collaborators, working with me to achieve the quality and aesthetic that Chalonne requires.
What advice do you have to someone looking for a mentor? How should they approach the mentor-mentee relationship?
Do your research! It makes a huge difference when you can show that you know your audience and their business. If you are planning to send a form email out to 100 people, don’t do it! You’re simply wasting your time. If you want to get someone’s attention, do your research and make your outreach personal by proactively thinking about their business, journey, etc. and showing how you connect to it. And if you get the opportunity, be enthusiastic, open to experience and consider that mentoring is a 2-way street. I hope to learn as much from my mentees as they will learn from me. I truly believe that we have so much to learn from others, regardless of age, experience, or any other perceived differences. Women especially need to support each other and lift each other up and if we expect to inspire the next generation.