Exclusive Interview with Chloe Dao - Owner of Lot 8

Vanessa (me), Chloe Dao, and Jasmine (me)

Chloe Dao was living the dream, running a successful boutique in Houston where she got to design her own clothes. It wasn't until she became the winner of the 2nd season of Project Runway that all of America and the world got to see the home grown talent of Chloe Dao.

Before Project Runway catapulted her into the spotlight, Chloe got her start in the fashion world by attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. After working in showrooms, she decided to take the skills she learned and bring them back to Houston, Texas, her second home after immigrating from Laos in 1979 with her family.

Our personal experience with Chloe Dao came with meeting her at The Fashion Fund's Career Day that took place at the University of Houston in March of this year. We had heard about her boutique for years, and of course we heard about her Project Runway Season 2 win, but this was our first time to come face to face with her. She might not have known it then, but she inspired us to take control of our fashion destiny and make Houston a force to be reckoned with in the fashion world.

NOW was the time to interview Chloe Dao about her design aesthetic and inspirations on a balmy Houston day in her famous boutique in Rice Village, Lot 8. After deciding where to sit, we settled down to ask Chloe about what she's been up to since winning Project Runway.

Urbanetimes: We know that Lot 8 is a nod to your sisters and your big family. How do you think that your family, namely your sisters, influence your style?

Chloe Dao: [In terms of my] collection, they really don't influence it. What happens in the world influences me. But my sisters do inspire me because they are all different shapes/sizes. I wanted to create clothing that works with every body shape.
UT: Looking at your Project Runway Show & your 2008 show I noticed you like to do unique designs to the back of some of your dresses, is this one of your favorite things to design?
CD: YES! I think a dress should be beauiful in the front as well as the back, and you can show it off & still be discreet.

UT: You have a couple of different lines, Dao Chloe Dao, and Simply Chloe Dao, your QVC line. What is the common link between these labels? Is there something that is always present when you design?
CD: The common link is me. (Laughs) I try to make clothes for women who love fashion. For my QVC line, the price point is under $100, and the sizes range from XS to 3X. Simply Chloe Dao is a an easier fit because it is made for such a wide range of sizes. Dao Chloe Dao is sexier clothing that is for going out.
UT: Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
CD: I would like to open more stores, have a wholesale line, and do more with our line of laptop and phone cases.
UT: How did you get started with the store?
CD: I saved my money & stayed at home with my parents. I didn't go out and party I stayed focused on my goal, and with the money saved plus credit cards, I was able to open Lot 8.

UT: What is your go-to outfit?
CD: My go-to outfit is anything with shorts. I always go for shorts. Also, a strapless dress. Its easy and you always look pulled together.

UT: What are your influences before you design?
CD: My design influences vary, but I am always inspired by architectural magazines, or interior decoration magazines like Surface, and Domino when it existed.

UT: What are three things every woman should have in her closet?
CD: A strapless dress in navy, a fitted jacket. It is still professional, yet sexy. Lastly, a great pair of pants. But in my case, a great pair of shorts.

UT: What can we expect for your fall collections from each of your lines?
CD: My theme is Destruction and Reconstruction. Expect heavy fall fabrics, jackets, and color blocking.

UT: Well thank you Chloe for taking the time out for this interview!
CD: Thank you!

Chloe offered us great advice about starting a store. "Its very doable, you just need to have a dream, an idea, and the stamina, and you just need to be willing to sacrifice." She also told us that Lot 8 evolved from when she first started her business that she has built into a mini empire of accessories, clothing lines, and you never know, maybe a stint in interior design.

Chloe certainly taught us a lot, and was incredibly open and friendly when giving this interview. Special thanks to Chloe Dao, Lot 8, and her staff. http://www.lot8online.com/ http://www.chloedao.com/


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