World Reimagined

How Carlye Morgan Is Redefining Wearable Technology To Both Be Functional and Fashionable

Carlye Morgan

Carlye Morgan, Founder and CEO of Chalonne, is elevating the smartwatch experience by integrating the finest craftsmanship and highest quality materials with visionary design.

Carlye started Chalonne out of a personal need after she purchased her first Apple Watch. While searching the market for a watch band, she was unable to find options that matched her desired look: high-quality with a sophisticated style. Chalonne allows individuals to easily switch out their watch bands for various occasions, from the formal look to the leisurely everyday style. Today, Carlye is committed to ensuring female empowerment is an integral part of her company’s mission and aspires to truly make a difference in womens’ lives.

We asked Carlye about the founding story behind Chalonne, how her definition of success has changed as a founder, and why she views collaboration and communication to be critical in building a team. 

Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding. How and why did you start working on Chalonne and doing the work you do?

A: My inspiration and thought process for Chalonne emerged organically when I purchased my first Apple Watch a few years ago. I loved my watch and the easy access to all the amazing features and apps, but wasn’t satisfied with the accompanying silicone band. I did some research and couldn’t find any high-quality Apple Watch bands out there. I didn’t want to sacrifice my personal style to sport the latest tech, and I knew other fashion-forward women must have felt the same way. 

According to Precedence Research, the global wearables market is around $140 billion and is expected to grow to nearly $400 billion by 2030. Bain & Co estimates the personal luxury goods market grew to $375 billion in 2022 and is projected to climb to around $570 to $615 billion by 2030. Thus, it seemed like fertile ground to carve out a niche at the intersection of these two categories. I had been wanting to start my own business for a while and I had so many design ideas in my head, so I decided to go for it.  

Carlye Morgan

Q: In what ways has your upbringing or past experiences contributed to how you operate as an entrepreneur?

A: Having worked in the corporate world for many years, I spent a lot of time thinking about Chalonne’s culture. I decided to make female empowerment an integral part of Chalonne’s DNA. My ideal is for Chalonne to help empower women and support them in ways that truly make a difference in their lives. From personal experiences, I knew that I wanted to start with breast cancer research. I connected with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, who agreed to a partnership very early on. Chalonne has donated 4 percent of all retail sales to BCRF since its inception. Every donation gets us one step closer to finding the cure to the disease that affects hundreds of thousands of women in the United States each year and we are proud to help that cause. The ultimate goal is for Chalonne to be successful enough to extend our mission of empowering women by supporting other organizations who champion women’s causes. 

Q: What’s one thing you wish you had known before starting Chalonne?

A: I wish someone had told me to do more personal introspection before starting my company and to take the time to really be objective about my own personal strengths and weaknesses. I did a full strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis for my product and business, but I should have started by doing one on myself. I realized along the way that, while I am good at many things, I am certainly not good at everything. Once I realized that, I was able to identify the tasks that were outside my comfort zone and sought outside help, which freed up time for me to lean into the tasks that are in my wheelhouse. 

Q: What’s the biggest misconception that others have around entrepreneurship?

A: Personally, I thought that as an entrepreneur, I would have a better work-life balance than I did at my corporate job, but I still struggle with it every day. At first it was great to have the flexibility to run up to school to volunteer or watch my daughter’s swim meet, but I quickly realized that as an entrepreneur you basically have to wear all the hats. You have to be able to do everything that a growing company requires, from setting the strategic vision to shipping out packages, and everything in between, while still working with the same finite amount of time each day. I get so immersed in the business that I put pressure on myself to perform, and end up working even more hours than I did in the corporate world. So it’s incredibly important to try to turn-off work and try to inject some of that balance back into your entrepreneurial journey. 

Q: Has your definition of success evolved throughout your journey as a founder?

A: When I first approached the business, I was completely focused on financial success and how to achieve it. I imagine most businesses want to generate significant revenue and achieve a high valuation, but I quickly realized that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. It takes time and consistency to build a new brand from scratch. So, my outlook changed from focusing on the next two to three years to thinking about what the next 10 years will look like. I am focused on slow, steady brand growth and celebrate the small atomic wins, which accumulate and become transformative over time. I also consider the impact that my company has on supporting and empowering women. As my company grows, our ability to be a vehicle for good increases and that kind of success is just as important as revenue. It’s important to build a company that reflects my values and principals because that directly impacts my own personal fulfillment and sense of accomplishment, which is another marker of success. 

Q: What resources or people have contributed the most to your successes?

A: Since we originally set out to become a new luxury brand, it was absolutely essential to find the right manufacturer and collaborator who could deliver the highest-quality product. After an extensive search, I found the perfect partner in Manufacture Jean Rousseau who lends Chalonne its 65 years of expertise and artisanal heritage, working with some of the world’s most prestigious luxury brands like Vacheron Constantin and Omega. All of Chalonne’s bands are made in Pelousey, a town imbued with a centuries-old history of watchmaking and zest for craftsmanship. The team at Jean Rousseau has been incredibly enthusiastic and supportive of the brand from the start, working with me to achieve the quality and aesthetic that Chalonne requires. 

Carlye Morgan

Q: What have you learned about building a team and a support network around yourself?

A: Building a team has indeed been more challenging than I expected. It can be difficult to find the right fit for a small company with a tight budget. But once we find the right personnel, I try to nurture their ambitions, play to their strengths, and align their responsibilities with their particular skill set and interests. I want every member of the team to feel like they are truly part of the team, so I emphasize collaboration and communication. I encourage people to share their ideas and opinions even if they are contrary to my own. I also believe that our company culture—based on giving back and empowering women—helps foster an environment in which our team can thrive. It’s a win-win for employees as well as customers to know that we have goals beyond the success of our immediate business. 

Q: What would you tell your younger self if you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over again?

A: Just do it! If you have a great idea that you believe in, just go for it. Founders require grit, so you should have that in spades. Plan to be in it for the long haul, so it’s a good idea to avoid situations with arbitrary deadlines. You may make many mistakes along the way, but those mistakes have value and will help you do it right the next time. You also need to have a healthy relationship with rejection, which just comes with the territory. You can’t let it knock you down. You need to make a huge investment of time and money in order to create something from nothing, so persevere, be resilient, and trust that success will come.

Q: What’s next for you and Chalonne?

A: I am incredibly bullish about the niche that we have carved out. Since we straddle multiple categories, there is great opportunity. We are focusing on bands for Apple Watch at the moment since Apple has the largest market share and continues to innovate and grow. In the next few years, we hope to continue building brand awareness, so we’ll be seeing lots of fashionable women wearing our bands across the country. We have plans to further scale the business so we can move into select global markets and are also looking into retail distribution via digital and brick and mortar. We plan to release additional watch band designs and continue to innovate and extend our product offering to other tech accessories.

Carlye is a member of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community that amplifies extraordinary women entrepreneurs and leaders by raising their profile through PR, forging authentic connections, and curating high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and get involved here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Gesche Haas

Gesche Haas is the Founder/CEO of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through visibility opportunities, resource exchange, and collective support.

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