Chloe Johnston, 29, is president and founder of Chloe Johnston, a personal travel and lifestyle company. She organizes personal and customized travel experiences that could include food, wine, fashion or just a shopping experience. She also sells vintage and designer fashion online and at special events and trunk shows.
Q: How?d you come up with the idea?
A: I began traveling to Paris when I was 12 and people would always ask me where I got something I brought back. I put a plan together when I was working on my MBA in fashion entrepreneurship at LIM College in Manhattan. I graduated in 2010 and my mother helped me with startup money.
Q: What?s the biz do?
A: We began with four-hour shopping tours for women who were already traveling to Paris, taking them to places they wouldn?t find on their own. So you?re shopping as a true Parisian as opposed to a tourist. We?ve evolved into more of a lifestyle company. When we bring clients to Paris, we do wine tastings, cooking classes and meet with fashion designers. I also offer fashion programs for college credit and visual merchandising for department stores and boutiques. We also have a website and at Etsy where we sell fashion as well as vintage pieces from experts we work with in Paris.
Q: How?s the biz model work?
A: Tours account for 70 percent of revenues and product sales make up most of the rest.
Q: How much do tours cost?
A: If you?re doing just a four-hour shopping tour, it?s $250 per person. If you want us to put together the full experience, which includes wine tastings, cooking classes, meeting with a designer, it depends on when you?re going and how much customization you want. If somebody already has a hotel and airfare, and they want an itinerary for three or four days, it could be $1,000 or it could be $5,000 and up.
Q: The value prop?
A: You meet a designer and learn where she got the leather and how she made a handbag, or the story of how she got started. When you buy something, come home and someone asks you where you got that bag, the memories of that experience come back to you.
Q: Your customers?
A: They?re looking for something unique and behind-the-scenes. Most clients are professional women, 30 and above, who have disposable income or have saved for a trip.
Q: The biggest challenge?
A: Finding the right clients and making sure people know who we are and what we do.
Q: How big a biz is this?
A: In the U.S., I have one full-time employee and am hiring a second and also have six interns for the summer from local colleges. In New York and Paris, I have independent contractors who do the tours and I also work with fashion designers.
Q: What?s next?
A: We recently launched tours in New York and want to be in London by the end of this summer and next year in Italy, either Milan or Florence.