Jill Stuart: On What It Takes

Paradigm Shifters is a series of interviews with a select group of women from eclectic walks of life. It will highlight real life insight on how women have been able to turn weakness into strength. Each interview is the naked truth about breakdowns that inspired breakthroughs. These women have experienced internal changes, which make them quintessential Paradigm Shifters.

Everything I have ever done has been focused on this underlying theme of shifting the paradigm because "what we think determines what we feel and what we feel determines what we do." Hence why Seven Bar Foundation and Empowered by You takes lingerie, which has traditionally been seen merely as a tool of seduction, and makes it a tool of empowerment.

I hope after reading these stories you will look at your own situations, struggles and accomplishments through a different lens and, at the very least, be better equipped to change your own paradigm. At the end of the day, we are our own alchemists turning the silver we were born with into the gold we are destined to become.

Jill Stuart - American Fashion Designer

You have designer blood in your family, with your parents both being in fashion. Did growing up with that family make you feel like you had to do it or was it something that you wanted to do?

It was definitely something that I wanted to do. It's something that I've loved since I was a little girl I used to go to my mother's office, which actually was in my building on the 12th floor, so this building holds a special place for me. My grandfather worked in her pattern room and I used to go and watch him make patterns. I used to go in all my mother's fabric appointments and I was so in awe of all the colors and fabrics and making little cutouts in her pattern room. It was my dream since I was a little girl. It's always what I've wanted to do.

Now your daughter is walking in your footsteps.

My daughter has her own lingerie line called Morgan Lane and she's amazing. She's actually upstairs on the top floor and I get to see her everyday. She inspires me everyday and she's a really hard worker and she's very talented and very creative.

Do you have a mantra or saying that keeps you staying your course and true to self?

Just do it is my mantra. You have to be proactive. I love what I do. You have to do one thing at a time and you have to be patient, but you have to go for it.

Who gave you your first break?

I started when I was 16 years old. I designed a piece of jewelry that I took to Bloomingdale's and Barbara Cirqua was the buyer, who now is at Chanel. She bought the jewelry for Bloomingdale's and gave me windows on Lexington Avenue and gave me the terms for CBD, which is check before delivery. They paid for it up front which is unheard of these days. She gave me my first order and that's how it all began. And then Bergdorf Goodman saw Bloomingdale's windows and Bergdorf Goodman wanted to buy it and gave me windows on Fifth Avenue and the rest is history.

How did you connect with her?

I found out her name, and I pursued it. I've been around the business my whole life. My dad ran the business and my mother was the designer and my dad was the sales director. I would hear about the stores and how you sell to the stores and I had heard about manufacturing and distribution. I'd hear about it every night at the dinner table. I shopped at Bloomingdale's since I was a little girl and it was always my favorite store, so I decided that that's the store that I wanted to sell to. I found out the buyer's name and I called her up and got an appointment. I went to see her and she fell in love with my jewelry.

Has there been a trip in your life that has been transformative or inspirational in what you do?

Tokyo continues to inspire me. It's set a really positive path for me. I do a lot of work in Tokyo and it continues to be an incredible experience for me.

Your business in Asia is double the business that you have in the U.S. What do you feel is the emotional connection you have in Asia?

When I started there 15 years ago it just clicked. They like kawaii, cute, and feminine and my style and aesthetic were perfect for the Japanese girl. They fell in love with it and it's been going strong ever since then. It was magic.

Has there been a moment in your life that shifted your perspective?

My three daughters growing up has really made a shift for me, being an empty nester and having them all go off and grow up and do their own thing. They're very independent and it's made me take another look at myself and my career and where I want to go with my career. It's like a new beginning.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Never give up, love what you're doing, and have your heart in it. Enjoy the journey.

What kind of legacy do you wish to leave behind?

My love is in Jill Stuart and my legacy is my company. Also the strong values that my parents have given me, I'd like to pass on to my children--hard work, tenacity, loyalty and resilience. I tell my daughter to be patient and to have a strong work ethic, but to have fun with it. She has challenges that come across everyday; she just has to be strong with it and work through them.

Designing is in Jill's blood. With unwavering dedication and hard work, she is a clear force in her field, blazing a path to follow not only for her daughters but for anyone with goals they wish to conquer. Jill has what it takes!