Inside Reese Witherspoon’s Style Empire: The Totes That Make Her Hug Strangers, Being a Boss, and More
Not many people get to celebrate two birthdays in one year, but our reigning Best Dressed Woman, Reese Witherspoon not only turned 40 in March, but her fashion and lifestyle brand Draper James celebrated one year in business on May 5. And the star and her team haven’t slowed down since the launch. “We’re just always working, working, working,” Witherspoon tells PeopleStyle in this week’s issue. “If I’m in L.A., I’m on Skype. If I’m in New York, I’m at the offices. When I’m in Nashville, I’m at the store. It’s busy, but it’s so great. You make mistakes, and then you correct yourself.”
Since in getting into fashion, she’s learned how to stay in her lane. “It’s important to not be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know how to do that.’ Sometimes an idea doesn’t work. Sometimes things don’t sell when we thought they were going to. But then, we had no idea that we were going to sell 3,000 “Totes Y’all” bags in a year,” she says. “One of the greatest and most exciting things happened when I was on vacation in Florida, and I saw a woman walk down the street with one those bags. I stopped her and hugged her!”
In addition to Draper James, Witherspoon has a production company, Pacific Standard, which she founded in 2012. And there are some similarities between both businesses. “I’ve been working collaboratively with other artists all my life,” she says. “When you’re on movies, you’re talking to writers and directors trying to shape the story and characters. In Draper James meetings, we try to connect a story to a product. We create things that remind us of our southern upbringings and want everything we put out there to bring you joy and be something you’ll have forever.”
She thinks DJ has excelled in a few areas. “Anything that had a southern saying on it people really responded to,” she says, “Like the coasters and mugs with sayings on them, and the ‘Tell me something good’ cocktail napkins.” She’s also seeing success with dresses. “I feel like we really nailed a certain silhouette,” she says.
Witherspoon has also nailed the idea that each of her brands should empower women; Draper James works with Girls Inc., and Pacific Standard aims to create more narratives and jobs for women in the film industry. “I definitely think that strength coexists with femininity and [being strong] doesn’t mean you can’t be girlie,” she says. “I’m really trying to help push that within my own industry, and it’s fun! I mean, part of the reason I did Legally Blonde was because I loved the idea of this character who loved to dress up and have her nails done, but she also wanted to be taken seriously and was a really hard worker. I think most women feel that way. Just because you’re a woman in a position of power doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate being a woman.”