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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jennifer Dixon, Entrepreneur of Hunter Dixon

Jennifer Dixon is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina; however after nearly ten years, she now calls Manhattan home. 

Jennifer graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with honors and with a major in psychology.    Jennifer was an ALL- ACC indoor and outdoor high jumper, ranking 2nd in the ACC her junior year of college. Jennifer was a recipient of the  “UNC Track & Field Scholar Athlete” award her senior year of college, in recognition for outstanding achievement.  She was asked to train for the Track & Field Olympic Trials in Sydney 2000; however not willing to defer a year, she pursued her passion to travel the world and hasn’t looked back since...Peachy Deegan, although she went to Boston College, loves UNC as her friend and mentor Charles Kuralt is a graduate. 

Jennifer studied at the University of Seville in Spain after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill.   After Studying and traveling in Europe for over a year, Jennifer moved to New York to pursue fashion, no stranger to fierce competition. 

From a family of entrepreneurs, trailing back to Thomas Dixon, late writer, reverend and entrepreneur, Jennifer always wanted to start her own company.  However, she knew she needed to gain experience in New York to be exactly certain of what venture she would be best suited. 
Jennifer freelanced at Condenast and interned at the fashion house, Christina Perrin right before the house folded.   A dream deferred but not denied, the experience in Fashion Sales was life- changing and little did Dixon know she would one day soon own her own fashion label. 

After leaving Christina Perrin Jennifer worked at a start-up, Advisen, where she founded a successful online advertising sales program.   Tasting a small bit of entrepreneurship yet not in her field of interest, fashion, Jennifer decided to apply to MBA programs.  However, before she could submit her applications Jennifer was approached by Hunter Bell to be her business partner to help her found a woman’s clothing line.  The two women immediately started their business in August 2006 called Hunter Dixon. 

Jennifer heads up business development at Hunter Dixon; Bell is the designer.   In March 2010, Dixon and Bell sold  a minority share of Hunter Dixon.   2010 has been a momentous year for Hunter Dixon; SAKS Fifth Avenue picked up only two new contemporary designers for 2010 and Hunter Dixon being one of the two. Hunter Dixon clothes have been seen in ELLE, FOX NEWS, E! NEWS, THE NEW YORK POST, and PEOPLE STYLE WATCH. 

May 2010 WWD ran the article “Southern Belle” on Hunter Dixon and the ladies’ fledging line that continues to grow and generate buzz.  The line currently hangs with Tibi, Milly, Rebecca Taylor, Naneette Lapore and Alice & Olivia in SAKS and over 100 boutiques worldwide.  Many well-trained eyes perceive Hunter Dixon to be the “next big contemporary designer” in a market that greatly needs a fresh voice.   Stay tuned...we know you remember we love their blazer:

Whom You Know is so pleased to present Jennifer Dixon as our latest Mover and Shaker!  Peachy Deegan interviewed Jennifer Dixon for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What are the main similarities and differences between Manhattan and North Carolina?

Jennifer Dixon: Manhattan moves at a lightening pace and even in my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, a cosmopolitian city, everyone operates at a more leisurely pace...  Southerners don't let work consume their lives as much as New Yorkers but many New Yorkers love the pace of their life and perhaps wouldn't have it any other way.  Most North Carolina natives tend to enjoy more small talk and are pegged as more "easy-going"; New Yorkers are generally more straightforward and direct.  There are a lot of southerers in manhattan so the lines become blurred in my eyes!

What should Manhattanites know about North Carolina and how do they see the South shining through in your designs?
The designs are flirty, whimsical, feminine and a lot of bright pop colors.. just like the landscape of the south.  However,  Hunter has lived in NYC for awhile now and is inspired by the sophistication of the New York woman.  Each season another place, event or time period will become inspiration for the "next collection," but those southern roots are always there.

Do you still compete in high jumping or have any future athletic goals in this regard?
I haven't participated in high jumping since college, but I am very competitive by nature and do miss the rush.  Tennis is my favorite sport and I like sprinting.  It taking me back to my track days as a jumper; I do interval workouts on the treadmill with short sprints.  I also have been practicing yoga for about 10 years.

What should people know about Hunter Dixon if they have not yet seen your clothes?
Hunter Dixon is affordable luxury and the collection has perfect pieces for "day to night" in Manhattan. Our silk blouses are our best-sellers so we continue to expand our essential blouse program of favorite blouse silhouttes, signature colors and prints every season.  There is a lot of color, yet we always offer the basic black and whites in the "essential blouses". The price point of the line is $200s for blouses, $350-500 for jackets and dresses.  Jackets and dresses also are our strengths. 
We offer the customer trend pieces every season, but also essential pieces that they will be able to keep in their wardrode for several seasons because of the style and quality of the garment.  
We are launching our e-commerce web-site July 15th!

What has surprised you most about building a brand?
For the duration of  my college education, I was a year round athlete for two sports (indoor and outdoor track) and maintained a rigirous course load at school.   However, since inception of Hunter Dixon I have never worked so hard in my life.  One must be willing to truly embrace the concept of "living and breathing" the brand to keep going.

What makes your business development endeavors successful? 
Risks are very important and I always say you have to be "kind of crazy" to be an entrepenuer!  Crazy in the sense, if one really looked at "the odds" of "succeeding" in xyz business they might just reasonably talk themselves out of it even starting the process.  I consider myself a problem solver, very adaptable, a risk taker and resourceful.   But I am always trying to hone my skills, constantly surround myself with positive, successful, kind people and learn new things!  
Consistency is very important to success, so it is key to form the right habits and partnerships, as well as take calculated risks.  Every detail matters and everything adds up; all the tiny brush strokes paint the perception that overtime builds..  So it is important to make careful decisions routinely. 
It is useful to look at those who have succeeded before you and find out what route they took and apply what might works for your organization. But in the end you have to think outside of the box and follow your best path towards end goals.  To quote Vera Wang "It's all been done before" but how will you do it a little differently and market and sell it?

What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I look forward to the unexpected "surprises" of the day.  I always have a plan, but everyday the plans have to be adjusted. So I would say business negotiations (be it contracts or day to day discussions), are my favorite part of my job because you learn more about people and it keeps you on your toes!  I guess the more you are surprised the less you eventually are.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
My parents have always encouraged me to follow my heart. They supported my decisions about the way I spent my time in New York with the ups and downs of finding my passion with work; they always believed I would find what I was looking for with regards to career.  They also encouraged me to study abroad and are way too generous with always lending an ear.

What are you proudest of and why?
I am just glad to wake up in the morning and being excited about "going to work."  It is a blessing to enjoy your work everyday and I cant allow myself to take that for granted.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
There are several books I have been working on, on and off over the years; would eventually like to publish a book. I also want to finish learning italian and learn french enough to qualify as a touch more than conversational. 
I would like to give back to the community more as our brand builds.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
Spa at the Mandarian Oriental or anyplace with good friends.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
Vintage and consignment shop in LES and SOHO

What is your favorite drink?
Star Vodka and soda! 

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Raoul's in SOHO

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
The Great Gatsby
The Tipping Point

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?
I would like to be more involved with more non-profit organizations, animals are so close to my heart as well as many other unspoken causes.   [Whom You Know recommends this animal non-profit: ]
So, if I were fortunate to be able to give back more time or resources in this area or other areas that I support to make a significant impact.
I hope to make more and more time on a personal level as well as with Hunter Dixon; we are in the midst of pinpointing a "cause" right now to focus on, it is so important to us to give back and perhaps if we choose "one" as a small company hopefully we can have a more meaningful impact.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
I go to the US Open every year the players are such phenomenal athletes. Their passion on the court is palpable.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Wow, so many things, besides cultural and culinary limitless options; my absolute favorite thing is the simplicity of walking in the city. I like the daily adventure in "discovering" something new.  It reminds me of living in Europe.. and I am a horrible driver, so it is probably best I am not behind the wheel!

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
I don't take in Broadway as often as should, but ever since I was a child I have been going to shows here.   Improv and Broadway talent is so remarkable, not edits, no sounds bites; I don't know how they do it!

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Underated -  Catching a cab when it is snowing and you are just to the point of not being able to feel your toes, because you're so cold from trying to hail a cab.
Overrated - 99% of the restaurants in times square area  

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
READ THIS column!  Reminds me I need to read more and I the reviews are so clever and relevant.. 
I am very interested to read THE TRUMP CARD: Playing to Win in Work and Life 

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
Hunter Dixon does charitable giving for silent auctions, etc.  Please contact with requests. 

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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