Featured in MOD Society Magazine

Caldwell Collection was featured in the November/December 2023 issue of MOD Society Magazine.

Lisa Caldwell and Lauren Caldwell Lea are die-hard Tar Heels. The mother-daughter duo not only graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, but they also both were cheerleaders during their college years. Lisa's husband and Lauren's father played football at UNC, as did Lisa's son and Lauren's brother.

Prior to UNC's appearance in the Music City Bowl in 2010 in Nashville, Lisa went on the hunt for a Carolina blue leather jacket to wear to the football game. She came up empty, but while walking around the stadium, Lisa saw a woman wearing a jacket like she wanted, but in Tennessee orange. She and Lauren had been mulling the idea of going into business together, and suddenly they realized what they should do.

"We looked at each other and we were like, "That's the business," Lisa says. "Those team colors never go out of style, and you can't find them without big logos. So, we're not the logo company-we are the fashionable fans, and that's how we dress when we go to games."

While the timing wasn't quite right then, a few years later, after Lisa retired from her corporate job and Lauren got married, the pair knew they should take the leap. And in 2020, they founded Caldwell Collection, an online women's clothing business (thecaldwellcollection.com). Caldwell Collection specializes in boutique-style women's clothing in a range of collegiate colors, from their beloved "Sky Blue" to "Simply Red" "Vivid Orange" and "Sapphire Blue," among others.

"We've heard from a lot of people that they really can't find the color they need all the time because sometimes collegiate colors aren't on trend," Lauren says. “But in our case, these colors are always on trend."

Collegiate colors also help Caldwell Collection stand out in a highly competitive women's clothing market.

"When you start a business, you have to have something that's unique," Lauren says. "Game day colors cut through the clutter for us."

Caldwell Collection's offerings include blazers, dresses, jumpsuits, blouses, sweaters and skirts all designed to show school spirit not only for game day, but also at work, parties, graduation and other occasions. Lauren and Lisa say the pieces are designed to be versatile and have staying power in a customer's wardrobe.

"They're really classic pieces with a little bit of a trendy flare," Lauren says. "It's important to find those staple pieces that can help you build a wardrobe and not just dress for one event."

Lisa and Lauren both say their sense of fashion and appreciation for clothing came from Lisa's mother and Lauren's grandmother, Pauline, who sewed her family's clothes and eventually opened Isapau's, a bridal and formalwear boutique in Burlington.

"We've always had this passion and interest in fashion and design," Lauren says. "It's something that's really in our blood, and I think we're just ecstatic that we're getting to unleash it after being in the business world for most of our careers." Lisa and Lauren design most of Caldwell Collection's pieces, and the garments are manufactured in New York, using fabrics imported from Italy and other countries. "The United States has really morphed into more performance fabrics, like wovens for seatbelts - things that they can get more profit on," Lisa says. “But apparel fabrication is just not as prevalent in the U.S. anymore. I'm hoping it comes back - that would be awesome."

While Lisa is based in Kernersville, Lauren lives in Houston, but the distance hasn't been a problem. Mother and daughter say their familial bond makes working together much easier, even across different time zones. "The part that's easy, and which makes our close relationship so important in this business, is that we have the basically same tastes," Lauren says. "We have the same vision for the most part, so designing and working together has been really fun for us."
Lisa and Lauren recently added new styles, including the Lorraine blazer, as well as two larger sizes and seven color options. The company has also been in talks with several major retailers interested in carrying their products. As Caldwell Collection continues to grow, Lisa says they're excited to eventually expand this concept beyond just clothing for women.

"We want to branch out of just women's clothes into menswear and kids' wear. We want to design interior pillows and things of that nature," she says. "We really want to become this family lifestyle brand where you can find us in people's homes in different ways and in different rooms. That's really our ultimate vision, and it makes us excited to think about it."

Written by Jennifer Bringle, editor-in-chief. For the full publication, click here.