STORY + VIDEO EDITING BY RACHEL SCHWARTZMANN – SHOP Petite Studio – PHOTOS + FOOTAGE BY BRIDGET BADORE FOR THE STYLE LINE
Self-taught fashion talent Jenny Wang has found her
calling. As the co-founder of Petite Studio, a thriving NYC-based apparel brand which caters to the petite market, Jenny is reshaping how fashion considers petite shoppers and their important role in the global fashion industry.
While this may sound like a tall order, Jenny contends that she’s honing in on her focus to continue fostering a “small but mighty” community of women who will ultimately see the brand as a means of sartorial refuge. “One thing you hear us say over and over is this idea of thinking smaller,” Jenny explained in our interview below. “This was sort of our guiding principle when we first started designing because (obviously) cutting pieces for petites require you to shrink some places a little and other places a lot. But more than that, thinking smaller has come to be a guiding principle in how we run the company. We have purposefully not taken investment money from big investment firms because we don’t want it to be all about turning a profit. World domination is not our goal. We are perfectly fine being an indie brand that is really great at doing what we set out to do, which is catering to the petite community.”
Even with Jenny’s unwavering vision, we don’t doubt that Petite Studio will rise within the ranks as a go-to for all women looking to amass a collection of staple items that will carry them through the seasons. In fact, we were reaffirmed of this idea during our recent visit with Jenny at the brand’s perfectly pink design studio in Lower Manhattan. From the plant-adorned corners to chic interiors (which complemented the racks of Petite Studio pieces), the brand’s dual shoppable showroom and office served as a physical manifestation of the stylish, feminine, and welcoming world the Petite Studio girl is constantly immersed in. While there, we chatted more with Jenny about her background, the leap from finance to fashion, and what she’s learned from this endeavor. Without giving too much away, discover the full conversation below featuring exclusive photos (and film footage) captured by Bridget Badore for The Style Line.
I’m Jenny Wang, the co-
founder of Petite Studio. I am a non-traditional fashion girl from a finance and investment background! Fashion has always been my passion but it took me a number of years to get up the courage to actually leave my safe day job and start my own brand, which has always been a dream of mine. I grew up in mainland China but came to the U.S. for school and (much to my parents’ dismay) never returned home since I met my would-be husband here! On the weekends, if I’m honest, I am working a lot because running a business requires you to wear a lot of hats, but when I’m not working I love exploring New York and I also spend time volunteering with my church.
Talk to us about the initial inspiration behind Petite Studio. What are some questions or talking points that the fashion industry needs to be discussing more of when it comes to petite fashion?
The idea initially came from personal experience as a petite girl with a love of fashion. I’ve always had trouble finding fashionable clothing that didn’t drown me or didn’t require hemming. I was always searching for petite clothing but felt limited to my options so I decided to start my own brand to basically make the clothes that I want to wear, haha.
I think unfortunately a lot of times petite lines at big brands are the afterthought rather than the main focus. If the fashion industry wants to take on the petite world, I always felt that they really needed to take the time to perfect it, which I don’t often see.
How would you describe your relationship to fashion, and now that you’ve launched Petite Studio, how would you say it’s changed?
I always felt that fashion was something that I would love to be involved in (other than just as an avid shopper) but it always seemed unrealistic to me. To traditional Chinese parents, fashion can seem like a pipe dream, and it took me a long time to convince my parents (and myself) that fashion was really a viable place to have a career.
In terms of how my relationship with fashion has changed, I think that entering the fashion world has sort of brought my expectations down to earth. Previously, when I looked into the fashion industry as an outsider it seemed so glamorous, cool parties, interesting people, etc., and now working inside the industry I have come to realize that there are pros and cons to it just like everything else. Fashion is super demanding and it’s not always glamorous or exciting. I would say I have developed a more realistic view of what it’s like being in the fashion world.
How does Petite Studio encourage embracing personal style?
We love having all of the people in our office showing off on our social platforms how they style our pieces. Each of us at the office has very different styles, but we all manage to include something into our wardrobe to make it our own. One of the things we are working on for 2018 is a petite staples line that provides some great fitting pieces that petites can build on and dress up or dress down.
“One of the things we wanted to embrace with Petite Studio is the idea that if you are petite, you don’t have to pretend to be something else.”
– JENNY WANG
“We are perfectly fine being an indie brand that is really great at doing what we set out to do, which is catering to the petite community.”
– JENNY WANG
How have you really honed in your aesthetic and why do you think this embodies the spirit of petite fashion?
One of the things we wanted to embrace with Petite Studio is the idea that if you are petite, you don’t have to pretend to be something else. There’s a lot of looks that petites can pull off better than other shoppers, and what we’re trying to do with the brand is to embrace being petite while really giving our petite shoppers pieces that make them shine. Whenever you have a great outfit on and it fits really well— dare I say perfectly —confidence and femininity just radiate out. That is what we try to embody as much as we can into our design and aesthetic, that confidence, femininity, and playfulness that we feel petites can really nail if they just have the right pieces to build on.
How do you hope to continue building out the social good aspect of the brand? Why do you think these elements matter to the Petite Studio woman?
We really wanted our own personal values to be at the core of our brand.
One thing you hear us say over and over is this idea of thinking smaller. This was sort of our guiding principle when we first started designing because (obviously) cutting pieces for petites require you to shrink some places a little and other places a lot. But more than that, thinking smaller has come to be a guiding principle in how we run the company. We have purposefully not taken investment money from big investment firms because we don’t want it to be all about turning a profit. World domination is not our goal. We are perfectly fine being an indie brand that is really great at doing what we set out to do, which is catering to the petite community. And then lastly, this idea of thinking smaller guides how we interact with the petite community. We really want to be interacting with our fellow petites on a personal basis, which is why we turned part of our office into a showroom and invite shoppers in to chat with us, see our collection and just hang out. We never want to have the “big brand feel” where it feels like someone just wants to sell you something.
How do you think creativity contributes to some of the world’s bigger conversations?
How do you hope Petite Studio plays a role in this?
Hmmm, I guess this isn’t quite creativity, but I think for me open-mindedness and the ability to listen well is key. There is so much passion today on subjects like politics, diversity, religion, and I have been trying recently to be a better listener to people who think differently than me. I find it sad that we as a society have trouble having open discussions about tough topics without getting emotional. I think there’s a lot of value in just being able to listen to what others have to say.
How would you advise the next generation of designers to leave an imprint in the world simply by doing what they love?
Let me say I am all about following your heart – I definitely took the plunge and followed my dream to start my own brand. But at the same time, I’m a big proponent of designers having a disciplined balance between their creative/adventurous side and being honest with what shoppers really want to see. Having this discipline and being willing to listen to market feedback in your designs can really serve designers well and give them a stronger voice.