JOAN KELLY, PRODUCER (FASHION 1ST)

FIELD: PRODUCTION HOME: BELLEVUE ZODIAC: LEO


A. | What is your work routine? What does your job entail? 

I do a lot of internet research, keeping up with everything thats going on in the fashion industry like through all the newsletters I get and then of course I have to discuss it with my friends who are into it. 

My career has changed with family obligations. I just feel all the time that I was really really fortunate that I have been able to recreate myself and do it all—have the family, the home, the marriage, the dog and the career. And you know what, my husband will be like well you didn’t make any money and I say well that's your fucking job, and I have made money. 

How much money do I personally need? My girlfriend was just talking to me and she's the chief marketing officer for a company, she is freakin’ brilliant but she's had two or three bad marriages and she can't wait for her last kid to go to college so she can work. It's a different choice. 

What I do for the community and for my friends is provide a safe haven. 

A. | How did you become interested in the fashion industry? 

I have always been in fashion since I graduated college. I went to Fordum which is in the Bronx and got a degree in economics and sociology but I should have gone to FIT or some place like that where I could have gotten an introduction into the industry sooner. All of my training has been on the job.

A. | What do you do outside our your work routine? 

For years I would work all weekend but now it's like “ok you want me to work on a Friday? Hmmm, I don’t mind teaching or something like that but don’t make a meeting at 5 o'clock on Friday because I am already in weekend mode. 

I tried to get away from fashion for years but the point is I LOVE IT, I love finding out what's going on, I love knowing what people are doing, what the new take is on certain things and what designers are coming up with.. I love the primary market, the secondary market, I find it all fascinating. 

A. | What are the biggest challenges you have overcome (personally and professionally)?

I think two things. One is that if they are acting gross or disgusting I am like “you know what you are not helping our business, you are actually giving our business a shitty name.” You gotta respect people that need to get paid, you need to understand that you are like a freakin’ newcomer on this whole fashion show scene so no one is going to be nice to you or believe in you. . . I don’t think many people realizes how hard our business really is. No one really understands the supply channel, and let me tell you, if you screw that supply channel up that is one very expensive mistake. I am a very resourceful person so when I see waste or people making really bad decisions I'm like "go ahead, you asked me my opinion, didn’t want to listen, knock yourself out." 

When I first moved here, people were really really mean to me. I worked for Nordstrom and people just wouldn’t she certain things. So I moved from Nordstrom for a smaller company and people were like “why would you do that,” but you know what I was so appreciated and I got enough.

A. | Where do you feel at home? 

I love my home. I could be any place with those people who I consider family. I could be somewhere that I think is the worst with people that i love and I’d be like “ok!”

A. | What's your vision for the future of your work? 

I started a deconstructed sweatshirt line; wearing what you want to wear when you want to wear it. Don’t be wasteful and don't be adding more work onto yourself. For instance, don’t be buying shit that you have to take to a cleaner every time you wear it—take it easy on yourself.

A. | How does oppression and privilege influence people’s success in your industry? 

In terms of privilege, you have two kinds of people;  most of the people who have made it in the business have grown up in the business or have parents in the business. Or, they have an extremely rich family behind them. Alexander Wang would be an example. 

As far as oppression goes, our business is obviously very numbers-oriented. If you are a woman or a minority who the hell cares if you can meet those numbers. 

A. | How would you define success?

When you get to the point where you are known for something that is success to me. It doesn’t really come that quickly. It is really being truly recognized and known.

A. | What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it? 

Not thinking through the whole process and/or thinking some one else is going to do something when you know that are not going to.

A. | What do you think are the most important traits in your industry?

You have to be a hard worker, you have to be totally solution-oriented because you've got to know that there will be problems and issues to work out. You have to go into situations with your eyes wide open. You've got to be willing to be like you know what, not for me. Which is really hard to because there’s not a lot of availability to begin with. And people will see “oh I really wish it was more like this” and I'm like I HEAR YA! 

A. | What would you recommend to yourself 20 years ago?

To really get a fashion business degree or something more specialized in my field of work. 

There needs to be guidance for our young women that says “ok, this is what it could look like: you're going to work for the first 8 years, you're going to have kids and get married, maybe take a few years off and then you're going to get to back to work and do this—or that kind of thing. You need to know how to buy a house, how to do your taxes, or that kind of thing.” I think that the way that I was raised was kind of like “get yourself in college because that's the goal here,” then when you get out of college, get a job and get married. The way that I was raised, everything was done for me so I had to learn all that but I think I could have done a lot better at all that if I had known it was something that I had to pay attention to. I think a lot of women get themselves into that kind of position. 

The one thing that I did do right was choosing a husband. Getting married is the biggest business decision you’re ever going to have to make. The one thing you don’t want to do is wind up with someone that doesn’t want to work or that is depressed easily or can’t role with the punches because certain things aren’t going to be planned. You have to have people who are ok with changes in the industry. It could look like a transfer of making an adjustment to a business, even if you have to take money out of the back to finance it.

Im 52, I’ve seen it all people. People say “you have to tend your garden as you get older,” (you have to“garden” your business)

A. | Any other production advice you would like to share?

I'm only as good as my product. I'm actually better in my product which is why I kept product in stores for so long but I'm in retail and you can't be obsolete, you've got to keep it rolling.”


FAVORITE QUOTE | You will never MAKE A FAME A DAY - THE STONES

ORIGIN | NEW YORK

FAVORITE ANIMAL | I LOVE MY BULLDOG SO MUCH, HE IS PROBABLY THE YUMMIEST THING IN THE WHOLE WORLD

EDUCATION | FORDUM, SOCIOLOGY 

SKILLS| Ask me anything you want to know about rock and roll-I pretty much know everything