This entrepreneur and author took her passion for fashion and built a thriving career

Meet entrepreneur, author and fashion historian Nancy Flaherty. Using her knowledge for fashion sewing, she recently launched her book French Flair: 10 essential pieces for the style and history that makes them so iconic. Flaherty presents ten key items women should have in their wardrobe, from the little black dress to the perfect scarf to the tailored blazer.

As the Founder and CEO of Hidden Gems with Grace, Flaherty organizes shopping and fashion experiences in Paris and other cities that offer Parisian panache. Additionally, last month Flaherty was appointed Atlanta Regional Director of Fashion Group International (FGI). With a mission to support women in the fashion industry, FGI offers timely information on national and global fashion trends.

Flaherty had been obsessed with fashion and style all of her life. When she was in college, she learned to sew and make clothes. “One of the first clothes I made was a denim wrap skirt with a red and white rick rack trim. I wore it forever, ”she recalls. During drama class in high school, she always helped with costumes for plays and musicals in school. At first, one of her style icons was Princess Diana. “I wore ruffled shirts, suits with matching tights and hats. If I couldn’t find them in store or if it was out of my budget, I would.

As much as she loved fashion, she only made a career out of it later, when she started working for a French luxury lifestyle magazine after her youngest child started college. “I had a completely different journey in my school years. I studied math and science, ”she shares. “But I always bought that perfect set that I saw on someone else and worked in a retail store while in college.”

Her parents wanted her to find a reliable, well-paying job. “But I wish someone had suggested the fashion industry to me when I was planning my future,” says Flaherty. “Fortunately, I had the opportunity to recreate myself during this second chapter of my life. I like to call it the next one. chapter or new beginning.

Jeryl Brunner: How did you get into the fashion industry?

Nancy Flaherty: My first job was to write and edit for, [the French publication], Captivity magazine. I have covered things in the United States that my French editor found interesting. I wrote in English and they translated for our print magazine. We also had an online English version of the publication. I have always liked to cover Parisian fashion week, especially couture week in January or July.

Brunner: What inspired you to start your own business?

Flaherty: My Parisian editor at Captendance and I absolutely loved following and writing about small businesses in the fashion industry that needed to be promoted. We wanted to launch an online magazine that wrote about shopping in Paris from an insider’s perspective and spotlighted beautiful boutiques and merchants that aren’t listed on tourist maps or guidebooks.

As I began to discover new places and continued to write about them, I was continually asked for advice on Paris: where to stay, eat and most importantly where to shop. I created a travel agency that takes people on organized five-day shopping trips to Paris, exploring the city I love and living like a Parisian, shopping at all my favorite boutiques. I wrote my book, French Flair 10 essential items for the style and history that makes them so iconic, while I was unable to travel to Paris, during the first quarter of 2021.

Brunner: Can you tell us about your passion for Paris and what you offer your clients?

Flaherty: I have always loved the romance of Paris, the city’s bustling way of life and the iconic monuments of the City of Light. I fell in love with Paris and the more I learned about the city and the history of fashion that resides there. When I travel, I like to look for special purchases that stand out. My rule is, if I can get it at home, I don’t buy it. When I take my clients to Paris, I show them the neighborhoods and introduce them to the shop owners who have become my friends over the years. My customers, in turn, are treated like friends in the stores we visit together.

Brunner: What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Flaherty: Ever since I started my career as a journalist, I have been continuously asked to write articles on must-have items or multiple ways to style a garment. I knew there were essential pieces to a Parisian woman’s wardrobe and had kept a notebook of what I thought were the perfect items. In my book, I dive into the history of each iconic item and why it’s so necessary in the wardrobe of anyone looking to breathe Parisian style. Each chapter explores an iconic element and the story behind the play. For example, I have a chapter devoted to the trench coat: writing about the trench coat, styling it, finding versions ranging from low to high price, then explaining the history of the trench coat are all in my book.

Brunner: So many people have a passion and want to start their own business but don’t have the confidence, the courage or the resources. What would you advise?

Flaherty: Seek the advice of a well-established business coach or mentor who can answer your questions and help you make decisions. I made a few bad choices along the way, but I’m still learning from them. You need to have passion to keep the job going even on days when you don’t feel 100% confident. It is also helpful to have friends to turn to to encourage your every step and to explain difficult decisions to you.

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