A Charlotte small business scored a partnership with Madewell

A Charlotte small business scored a partnership with Madewell

Photo courtesy of Sarah Slusarick

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If you’ve perused Madewell lately, you might have noticed Charlotte representation on the brand’s site.

What’s happening: Queen City native Lauren Harbury and her Feminist Goods Co. brand, known for accessories, coffee mugs, hats and clothing with cheeky or uplifting sayings, are now a part of Madewell’s Hometown Heroes collective.

  • The program features 68 small businesses from 23 states. Harbury represents North Carolina.
  • The partnership means you can buy a select collection of Harbury’s Feminist Goods Co. products directly via Madewell.

Why it matters: Feminist Goods Co.’s partnership with a major retailer like Madewell shows that Charlotte creators can grab national attention alongside people in fashion hotspots like New York or L.A.

Zoom out: Harbury describes Feminist Goods Co., which was founded in 2015, as a “product-based business that wants to inspire people to be happy. Even when things are hard, they don’t have to be bad.”

Products are made with sustainability in mind, and the clothing comes in extended sizes.


“I had it on my vision board that I’d try to get into a national retailer, and I’ve always loved Madewell,” Harbury says about her Madewell deal.

  • Harbury says she submitted an application to the Hometown Heroes program expecting never to hear back.
  • She adds that the partnership has had “a huge impact” on her brand. “Every month is like the best month, which is really cool.”

So what should you keep in mind if you’re an entrepreneur looking to find a national platform like Feminist Goods Co. has with Madewell?

  • There’s no such thing as an overnight success. “It’s a grind. In the past year, the business has grown the most it ever has, but there were five other years before that where I was like, ‘What am I doing? This is so tough,'” Harbury says.
  • When you do find success, it doesn’t mean you’ll never struggle again. “I joke with my friends all the time, ‘Is this the day I just shut it all down?’ As a business owner, it’s so normal to question things and have hard days.”
  • Learn from other creators. “There are only so many hours in the day for me to learn everything I need to know by myself. You learn so much from other business owners, even if they sell something different or are doing something different.”
  • Don’t let fear impede your growth. Harbury says partnering with large companies might make some small business owners nervous, especially as stories about big companies stealing entrepreneurs’ ideas pop up. To her, it’s worth the risk. “Anything could be stolen at any time by anyone. But if you’re paranoid about it, you’ll never do anything.”

Lastly, she says it’s important to step out of a hyper-competitive mindset.

“I don’t know a single person that has just one coffee mug. Why do I need to fight with someone who’s also making coffee mugs? There’s truly enough room for everyone.”

Header photo by Sarah Slusarick

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