Not taking ‘no’ for an answer

This fashionista doesn’t let anyone dampen her dreams — and it’s working for her so far, including being namesake to a denim design at The Buckle.

As Chloe Burdette, ’14, prepared to enter Indiana State to study fashion, some people challenged her choice. They asked, “Why would you go into fashion? You can’t do anything with it.“

But Burdette replied, “I never take ‘no’ for an answer.”

It’s a tenet that’s empowered the State alumna. It helped her succeed throughout college and has been pivotal since as she finds success in the fast-paced, competitive and evolving world of fashion.

Growing up in Brazil, Ind., about 20 miles east of Terre Haute, Burdette had a taste of the fashion world and big city life when she visited her cousin Betsy, a fashion event planner, in New York City. Back home, she and her mother watched “What Not To Wear,” “Project Runway” and “Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress” together.

Burdette signed up for the textiles, apparel and merchandising program at State, along with courses in business administration. “What was nice about being in textiles and apparel merchandising at Indiana State,” she said, “was that you got to learn a lot of different facets of the industry to help decide which you wanted to go into.”

Initially interested in design, Burdette discovered a bigger interest in visual merchandising, buying and planning.

Chloe Burdette takes measurements to create a one-of-a-kind garment. #CustomChlothing is Burdette’s hashtag on social media.

Burdette credits her success at State to instructors who allowed her to grow and supported her vision: Edie Wittenmyer, Joanna Connors and Jung Mee Mun. “They would push me and push me in the best way and support me no matter what,” she said.

The State program gave Burdette the chance to seek out an industry internship. Burdette’s never-accept-no philosophy went into high gear. She set her sights on a coveted spot at a high-profile New York City bridal house: Kleinfeld Bridal. It’s famous for being the location of the television show “Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress.”

But it wasn’t an easy in.

After applying for the internship, she didn’t receive a follow-up contact, so she took the bull by the horns and called them. “The plan was: I’m going to get this internship, no matter what,” she said.

She reached the hiring manager who told her if she could get to New York, she’d get an interview. Burdette bought her plane ticket.

“The first thing the hiring manager said to me when we sat down for the interview was, ‘Chloe, I’ve already hired all of my interns for the summer,’” Burdette said. But after talking with Burdette, the hiring manager praised her persistence and opened a spot for her.

Burdette had the opportunity to work with leading wedding couture designers, form a strong bond with other interns and gain important industry skills, like listening to clients without inserting her own preferences.

Working in New York also strengthened her resolve to start her career in a fashion hub.

After graduation she accepted a short internship with The Buckle in Kansas City. She left her mark on their clothing line, designing a denim that the store named “The Burdette.” Then she headed to Chicago.

Her job path started at a suburban Nordstrom’s job, then to the Nordstrom hub on Michigan Avenue and finally to Trunk Club where she found her passion.

Trunk Club, owned by Nordstrom since 2014, is a service that provides a personal shopping experience.

Burdette recently welcomed Rex Kendell, executive director of the ISU Alumni Association, and First Lady Cheri Bradley to the Trunk Club in Chicago.

Burdette, a custom stylist and senior stylist, describes Trunk Club members as business professionals who have little time or desire to shop. “It’s relationship-based at the end of the day,” she said. “I’m friends with several of my members.”

Burdette’s members have the choice of scheduling an in-person appointment at the Chicago Trunk Club suite or consulting by phone. For the remote consultation, Burdette assesses her client’s needs, preferences and lifestyle, and then, based on the conversation, selects clothing to assemble (or “curate”) a box (or “trunk”) of clothes to send them. e member returns what they don’t like and are charged for what they keep.

Headquartered in Chicago, Trunk Club has locations in five additional U.S. cities — and growing. “At Trunk Club, you’re essentially in your own lane when it comes to growth potential,” she said. “You set your goals, you set your mind and you go.” Burdette’s niche is in custom suiting and closet clean-outs. What’s next for the woman who doesn’t take “no” for an answer? “Right now, the path is just positive. I want to be No. 1 in this company,” she said.

On social media, she follows fashion influencers, “several here at Trunk Club,” she said. “Maybe I’ll just start being an influencer. I think we can make that happen.”

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