Interview with Designer Jennifer Stecher of Humane Envy
1.What was the story behind your collection this season?
This season’s collection “Asymmetrically Beautiful” is inspired by my hope for each individual woman to embrace their unique attributes and to strive against conforming to society’s “symmetrical” standards. I wanted to highlight on women finding their individuality and embracing it in clothing that is complimentary of different body shapes and sizes.
2. How did you feel showcasing for the first time during AMCONYC Fashion Week?
I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to have showcased my new collection in AMCONYC Fashion Week. It allowed my clothing line, based in Chicago, to reach a completely new realm in New York City.
3. What pushed you to become a designer?
To say that my journey to become a fashion designer was unique, is an understatement. As a child, I sketched and designed clothing periodically. However, my main focus was to become a veterinarian. In 2012, I graduated from veterinary school at Iowa State University and moved to Chicago. A year after moving to Chicago, it was found that my dad’s prostate cancer had metastasized to his spine. It felt as if my world had been shattered. I prayed to God to give me some guidance and allow for me to find an outlet during that difficult time. Even though I had not designed since I was in fourth grade, I began to start sketching again. I thoroughly enjoyed my passion to design clothing and decided to begin my clothing line. I wanted to start my own clothing line to allow for women of different sizes and shapes to feel confident and beautiful while giving back to the community. A portion of Humane Envy’s profits are donated to animal rescue organizations and a cancer organization. It is important to give back and try to make a difference regardless of what you are trying to accomplish in life.
4. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned, so far, in starting your own fashion label?
The biggest lesson that I have learned would be to always stay true to yourself and to the mission/focus of your clothing line/company. There are plenty of times throughout these past couple of years that I have succeeded and there are just as many times that I have failed. You do not succeed, unless you have learned from your failures. If I did not know myself and truly believe in my clothing line and its purpose, I would not have had the motivation to keep working during those sleepless nights in order to accomplish tasks to allow for my company to get to the next level.
5. What obstacles did you have to overcome getting into the fashion industry?
As a veterinarian, breaking into the fashion industry definitely had its challenges. There were so many things to learn within the fashion realm itself like pattern making, sample making, fabric selection, manufacturing, etc. and that does not include the business aspect of owning a clothing line. For me, the best resource was online classes and books which taught me about the details of this industry. In addition, it is extremely important to have a close network of trusted colleagues that have experience and knowledge of the fashion industry. As with most things in my life, I had to construct a plan for how I was going to break into the industry. I am a very determined individual and once I set my mind to something, I work hard until I achieve it.
6. During the week you’re a veterinarian. How have you managed to balance building the brand at the same time?
I am very blessed to have both a career as a veterinarian and a fashion designer. Not everyone is allowed to use their right and left side of their brain on a regular basis. It can be challenging to time manage and allow for both careers to have equal passion and time. I work three and a half days at a veterinary clinic and the other three and a half days I focus on developing my clothing line. I am an extremely motivated, organized and creative individual which allows me to achieve success in both my veterinary career and clothing line.
7. What advice can you give to others trying to break into the industry?
I would tell future fashion designers that it is imperative to be passionate and unique. If upcoming designers are not willing to fail, they will not succeed. Also, upcoming designers need to be willing to push fashion industry’s standards and society’s standards in order to successfully break into the fashion industry.
8. What’s next for the brand now that you’ve done AMCONYC Fashion Week?
Humane Envy will continue to be a socially conscience clothing line that strives to make women feel beautiful and confident while donating a portion of its profits to local charities. I am hoping to allow for Humane Envy to reach new geographical and fashion industry heights.