I’m the founder of Affordable Chic, a website that curates high quality fashion for under $100.

I’m the founder of Affordable Chic, a website that curates high quality fashion for under $100.

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MARIALUISA

“I don’t believe in the white page. If there is a blank page, fill it.”

I created the business with two partners. It’s a fashion site, but our mission is to help women who love beautiful things be smart about how they spend their clothing budget.

I have a busy social life, and dressing well is important to me. But my priority is my kids—giving them everything they need. So I started challenging myself to find chic clothing for $100 per item or less. The dress I’m wearing is part of how the business idea was born. I spotted it online, from a company in China, for about $60. I wore it to an art opening the day it arrived. People asked me if it was from Italy. I said, “No—Affordable Chic.” The name just came to me. I bought the domain name, created an LLC, and called a couple of friends I thought might be interested in joining me.

My partners and I scan through a huge number of items online. We order the things we think look interesting—nothing generic. We touch them, wash them, see how they hold up. If an item passes our quality test, we publish it with a little story, to help create a mood around that item and how a woman might wear it. If someone clicks on it on our site, they are sent to the manufacturer’s page; if they buy it, we get a percentage.

I’ve always been a creative person, but that wasn’t encouraged by my parents. They appreciated art, but they saw the struggle of artists and didn’t want that for me. So I went to university to study engineering. I did well, but it didn’t come easily. Then I went to Madrid Polytechnic School on an exchange program and met all kinds of people from other departments, which got me interested in filmmaking. With only three exams left to finish my engineering degree, I got a scholarship to film school. I made a short movie, and when it was finished I told my parents they had to watch. They were speechless. My father said, “If you think it’s good for you, do it.”

I came to New York to do a screenwriting seminar. While I was here, I met my husband. I went back and forth between New York and Italy for a while. I studied creative writing, worked on documentaries. Then I got pregnant, and my maternal instinct came out. I was all for my kids. I don’t regret that time as a mother. But I missed working.

I had this blue chair when I lived in Italy. Everything I created back then was done in that chair. When I moved here, I left it behind. When I felt like I was going crazy, not knowing what to do with myself, a friend encouraged me to remember my blue chair and start writing again. It was scary. But I missed it so much, I just sat down and did it. I wrote a novel in three months. It was a mess, but I kept going because once I started I was afraid to stop.

I think that’s what opened me up to start this business. It’s exhausting, because I’m still a full-time mom. I’m up at 4:30 a.m., reading business plans. But I wake up happy.

Interviewed on January 14, 2019

I’m a real estate agent, primarily for the West Side of Manhattan.

I’m a real estate agent, primarily for the West Side of Manhattan.

I handle sales and business development for Watson Adventures, a company that does scavenger hunts in museums and historic neighborhoods.

I handle sales and business development for Watson Adventures, a company that does scavenger hunts in museums and historic neighborhoods.