Small Business Profile: Amy Mokris, Founder of Le Coeur Watch Co.
How did you start Le Coeur?
Le Coeur is a blend of all the things I love doing. I used to be in full time marketing, and it was nothing watch-related, but it kind of got the wheels turning. I try to surround myself with other like-minded people or other entrepreneurial friends, so we’ve always loved chatting about businesses we could start or new ideas we could do something with. My mind has always been on that track. I was always frustrated shopping for watches, I could never find anything that I really loved and wanted to rock all the time, and let alone a brand that gave back. So that is where the brand stemmed from. I started from there, and then took it super step-by-step.
What’s your background?
I studied communications and media at DePaul, and minored in photography because I thought I wanted to do photojournalism. My dream job was to work for New York Times. I figured I could pair all of those concentrations and market myself as a photojournalist thereafter. So a lot of my background is photography related. I moved to Paris for a year and I was working at a licensing and branding firm, and was doing more targeted branding work for them, so more product design concepts. I moved to Paris on a whim. I was working for myself shooting weddings and engagements and all of that. I had always wanted to live abroad. It was a magic period in my life, I was working for myself, and if I was going to do it, that was the time. Prior to moving, I had been certified to teach English as a foreign language just to make myself more marketable once I got over there because I didn’t know what exactly I would find. When I moved over there, I found a family to live with, and I found my job through that family--the mother was the CEO of that company. That got the wheels turning for creating not just for the sake of creating, but more as a targeted marketing campaign. When I moved back here, I wanted to market myself more as a branding person. It was kind of just working with where I was at and what I felt most moved and excited to do at that time.
What inspires your work?
Travel is a huge thing that Le Coeur is inspired by. And giving back. I’ve always wanted to emphasize interconnectedness and how the consumer has so much purchasing power, not only to just buy product, but to create real and impactful positive change in their communities and the whole world. At large, minimalism and simplicity, extracting all of the things that we don’t really need that distracts from the beauty that usually happens when you keep things as simple as possible.
What brought you to Chicago?
My visa was expired after Pairs. It was always a temporary stint. My family and friends are all in the Midwest, and while I still love going back to France however much I can, I love being close to my family.
If you weren’t here, where would you be?
Paris, for sure. I think it is also fun to think about where in the U.S. to live, and I haven’t traveled in the U.S. nearly as much as I would like to. I would love to explore the Pacific Northwest and get out of the Chicago weather one day.
How do you take time for yourself?
I definitely have not mastered that feeling of having balance. I try to take time away from my work, and I think it helps my work grow when I do, but with any startup, you have to invest a ton of time and energy into it. I love doing it, and it is not a hassle for me, so it is fun. But when I do get time away, I like to hang out with my friends and family. I like to stay active--I’m a runner. Traveling, of course, and I also love being by the water.
Why do you think it’s important for creative women to come together and collaborate?
I think that women are some of the most creative leaders, and they make some of the best leaders, and I think that there is a trend of that happening more and more. I love the creative community here in Chicago, because some of the best leaders I know are women. So whether that be because I’m purposefully surrounding myself with that or not, I can list 10 badass female entrepreneurs who I have had the awesome opportunity to work with. It creates a really positive and collaborative environment where we can all help each other thrive and grow and do all the things that we are dreaming about doing.
What is your advice for young creatives?
I never thought I would ever be doing this business, but along the way, I just always did what I felt most compelled to do at that time. The question of “what do you want to do for the rest of your life?” is a very daunting and very overwhelming question and I don’t think we ever have to have it all figured out. But I think that if you do what you feel most inspired by or most moved by, it is probably what you are going to do the best. It will typically lead you to a good place, whether it is the absolute end goal, or it will lead you to the next step in your journey. There is just no way you can know what you’ll be doing in the next 10 years, because so many things happen in a year.
How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
Simple, minimal. I try to keep more classics that I can swap in and out every day. Sometimes a little sporty.
How do you stay inspired?
Traveling is still the thing that keeps me fresh and keeps me inspired. Whether or not I feel the need to get out of the city, whenever a trip comes up, I come back feeling good. I think it’s important to even travel your own city or switch up your routine and what you see every single day. Also just surrounding myself with creative people.
I don’t have one. Every day differs for me, plus, I’m a night owl. It’s not like I wake up and read or go for a run every day. But I do wake up and need coffee.
Candy and beer. Sometimes together, hopefully separately. I totally have a sweet tooth.
Favorite woman run brands/businesses?
Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal. She seems hilarious and her whole brand stemmed from her feeling really moved to do that, and nothing else made sense for her. She had this obsession with working on it, and it just made sense. I love Humboldt House, Gather, Modern Cooperative. They are all run by women and have a gorgeous very intentional aesthetic, which are all things I really admire and strive for with Le Coeur as well. And Urban Wild Studio for the same reasons mentioned previously.
Your star sign?
Ranunculus and peonies.