I love writing for Boca magazine because of the opportunities I get to meet extraordinary individuals. L’Agence Fashion Director Tara Rudes-Dann is a perfect example–extraordinarily candid, introspective, authentic, and warm. L’Agence, a brand embodying empowerment, fittingly headlined this year’s Saks Fifth Avenue Fashion Show at the Junior League of Boca Raton’s 34th Annual Woman Volunteer of the Year Luncheon.
Rudes-Dann has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ aura about her. She’s real in conversation, making it feel as if we were longtime friends catching up over some retail therapy at Saks Fifth Avenue Boca Raton. Upon her arrival, I met two of her team members who have been with L’Agence for well over 10 years, a true testament to her leadership, compassion, and kindness.
We talked about a myriad of topics including fashion, business, lessons learned, challenges, motherhood (she gave birth to her second son, Jagger, just two months ago), and, for fun, topped it off with a quick-fire Q&A. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, read on to see why I left our conversation inspired, thankful for those 30 minutes with this fashion powerhouse.
First of all, how was Woman Volunteer of the Year?
It was extraordinary to be in a room of such humanitarians who devote their time and efforts to better the community. I just loved it. It’s about empowerment and everything that L’Agence and I personally stand for.
When we think of L’Agence, it’s California meets Paris. How do you merge the vibe of both places to create your brand’s aesthetic?
LA is easy and Paris is chic. So I’d have to say we’re a Parisian chic brand with the California essence.
Who is the L’Agence woman?
She’s style. She knows when she looks hot. She knows how to do it in a sophisticated way. We give her what she wants to create these outfits.
You produce 12 collections a year. What inspires you in your design process, especially when you’re having to create all these collections?
I religiously look at fashion reviews and product daily. And quite frankly, the process never stops because the creative juices are always churning. I personally prefer not to have any downtime and neither does anyone in the company. And it’s not just me. There’s my Uncle Jeff and our partner Albert and a whole team that creates the excellence and the passion that drive us. It’s exciting to be a part of something like that in a very healthy-run business. That, in and of itself, is extraordinary.
What are the three key pieces that you would recommend a new L’Agence customer start with?
THE Denim… THE Blouse… THE Blazer. Denim is always the common denominator and on top of that, a great blouse and a blazer. But there are so many categories that are penetrating from L’Agence. The sky’s the limit. We’ve added shoes to the mix, as seen on the website, so we’re really head to toe.
How has the past year affected your business?
We make beautiful clothing that women love to wear and we stayed focused on that. Of course we also focused on our relationship with our stores. It was the most detrimental time in everyone’s lives, not just in their careers, but personally, so you have to do whatever you can to just make sure that everyone’s, first and foremost, okay. We were able to do that as a company. We also made sure that our stores knew that our partnerships were there. Ultimately though, we focused on staying true to our authenticity.
Are you planning on adding any new categories in the near future?
We’re cooking up some exciting categories that are really fulfilling for a woman. That’s the idea in general. We want to make sure that we fill this fulfillment in your closet that has you looking and feeling beautiful from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep and everything in between. And if you went to sleep and you woke up and you’re still wearing your clothes, that was an amazing night.
L’Agence launched in 2008, what would you credit the brand’s longevity in such a competitive marketplace?
It’s continuously delivering well-made beautiful clothing involving our customer.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in building up your brand?
Constantly learning more about the L’Agence girl. Today, we know her better than her best friend. We had to really dive into what was needed for the woman that we envisioned in order to outfit her full lifestyle. It’s looking and feeling beautiful. And all of that is empowerment.
What is the best advice you’ve received in business?
Keep it simple. Less is more not only in fashion but also in your whole life.
There’s a lot of talk about finding that work-life balance, especially with kids. As a mom to two boys, how do you juggle both?
I’m super passionate about what I take on. I love being a wife and a mom. I love–and I’m so passionate about–what I do in my career. It’s not about juggling unless you put it out there that you’re juggling. It’s more praying for more hours in the day and just getting through. Every day is a brand new day and that’s exciting.
What is the one lesson you hope to instill in your children?
To always be kind, show respect, and dream big!
Quickfire Q&A with Tara Rudes-Dann!
What’s your favorite quote or life motto?
Just be you.
Favorite travel destination?
Who’s your style crush?
Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale, and Saks Chief Merchant Tracy Margolies.
When you’re not working, what’s your favorite way to spend time?
Cooking with my boys.
What’s your go-to outfit when you are pressed for time?
Jeans, a cami and blazer or cardigan.
Which drink best describes your personality?
Pellegrino, smooth and bubbly.
What are you currently watching on TV or any of the streaming platforms?
American Crime Story: Impeachment.
As we enter the holiday season, what do you love most about the holidays?
Just seeing everyone happy and together.