Brands are born for a number of reasons, but some emerge to simply mark a moment as well as an extension from a lifelong passion that needs to be shared with like-minded individuals! Stacy Igel is the powerhouse behind Boy Meets Girl® which she states is the original athleisure brand and is coveted by celebs, "IT GIRLS," and more. We talked with her about how she came to fashion, the story behind the advancement of the brand, upcoming brand achievements and of course how she stays on top of it all as a wife and mom of her young son.
ATHLEISURE MAG: We think it's pretty appropriate to have you in this issue as our Style Director has always mentioned your brand as one of the early athleisure brands. Walk us through your journey in fashion that led you to creating Boy Meets Girl®!
STACY IGEL: I knew at a very young age - I tell people in the womb, who I wanted to be – a fashion designer. It was a pretty direct path in terms of getting here, but also there are hurdles. I dressed my classmates, had my own little lookbooks in 1st or 2nd grade and would make catalogs. I would make them without Instagram or social media. I just used polaroids to create them – this was pre-photoshop or even using computers!
My mom was an entrepreneur. She created a lumbar support and she was always going to Hong Kong and Taiwan. She would bring back these trinkets from these places that were super cute. I just loved them and I started making catalogs and selling these items in there. Like I had the first charm necklaces back in the day so it was so cool. So I was this budding entrepreneur and I learned how to run a business.
Then, while my mom was building her business she went from doing it at home to expanding to factories, tradeshows, etc. So even though it wasn’t designing, a clothing collection, it was a back machine that came in one color and one price point and she was a physician’s assistant – she was still making something and it was the things that you did to start a business. Creating something, selling, producing a product and dealing with factories. So when I was young, I knew I wanted to have my own business and to design. She definitely inspired me. My father was also very encouraging in my dreams. He is a doctor. Therefore, I had no family who was in the fashion business.
I started taking classes – there were opportunities at Columbia College in Chicago as my grammar school and high school at that time didn’t have the opportunities that people do now to learn those skills. I had to take a lot of extracurricular classes to learn more about design.
I worked in retail at the Gap and in college worked in a retail store in Madison-Wisconsin where I made my first product and sold it there. I was always just on this track that I knew I would do this as well as understanding all facets of this business. My mom taught me that you can’t just do one thing you have to understand all facets from design, retail and manufacturing.
When I went to school I triple majored at the University of Wisconsin in Design, Retailing and Business. I got a Certificate of Business and I was able to carve out the 360 of how to be in business, do design and more. I took internships where I was able to learn more, did fashion shows etc. During my Junior year, I was able to study in London with Zandra Rhodes who is a very famous designer. I also worked with Donna Karan and Elsa Klensch (host of CNN's Style With Elsa Klensch), I was dabbling in a lot of areas and I even interviewed in '98 Marc Jacobs at one of his first NYFW shows in SOHO and I got to see behind the scenes and what it took to be in it. Seeing all these things, my parents asked did I still want to do it? Of course I did!
When I graduated, I designed for Elie Tahari and was hired by him. I left there and went to Izod and learned high fashion as well as mass and branding. In 2001 right before Sept 11th, I left to pursue my own thing. Then the 11th happened and my first tradeshow was right around that time.
My collection at that time had a lot of ribbons as well as the original Boy Meets Girl collection as it was focused on the Fourth of July and I was showing it in Sep as it was showing my Spring/Summer collection for the following season. My first department store who bought the line was Bergdorf Goodman at this trade show which was my first in NYC. It was crazy to sit in this booth showing it there and my mother kept nudging me saying, “it was the best store in the world.” There were about 60 designers that were showing; however, I was a hot booth as I had something new and fresh that resonated with all the customers (not to mention I had my awesome mom working with me at that show ... those were the days). I had a purchase order that was a nice amount and I was handmaking and screen printing everything – I did it all myself and then I realized that now that this was a thing, I’d have to get a factory as it was a big company and I was in business and had to ship all these goods.
I am the direct line of having the passion, wanting to do it, being involved in every facet and a budding entrepreneur. I never stopped working – I have been working since I can remember as it’s what you do when you love it.
AM: Who is the Boy Meets girl customer?
SI: We like to say that she has a young attitude, she has a bit of an edge, she’s fun, she doesn’t take life too seriously. She really believes in being good and doing social good to help change the world. It’s not one specific thing, but she is into music and what’s happening. She loves going to concerts, traveling, etc. We like to say that it’s not only runway, it’s about being on the go and not taking things too seriously and having a good time. We’re the original athleisure brand which is why we love that this is in Athleisure Mag!
You’re on the plane, you’re on the go it fits your personality and it’s not about a specific age - just our attitude and how you feel. It’s amazing for me as the person who has built it to see what they come for, how they come to the brand, what they buy and why they buy. It makes me pinch myself sometimes.
AM: How did you come up with the logo?
SI: I have a cool story on this – as it came from meeting my husband. I was going to dinner for the first time with my husband – at that time he was my boyfriend to meet his parents. On his wall, he had silhouettes of his brother and sister. When I was younger, we had something like that of me and my sister. The logo isn’t us per se but when I looked at it I was like, oh “Boy Meets Girl” – the first time you meet someone, the first concert, travel experience. It’s a moment and a story.
After that night, my husband (who was also a graphic designer) and I started playing with the silhouettes, poofing the hair up, playing with the layouts etc. We then focused on trademarking everything, did the IP, spent a lot of time to protect the name across all apparel as well as internationally. You have to learn about all the protection and we deal with IP and protection on a daily basis. I always say that the logo is us in some ways but it’s really everybody as it’s about the story. Being young and having a good time. I am also grateful my husband is a fashion/entertainment lawyer so the early days of putting this all together definitely inspired him too!
AM: What collabs have you done that you liked and of course, tell us about Care Bears.What collabs have you done that you liked and of course, tell us about Care Bears.
SI: One of my latest collabs that I partnered with was a very intimate NYFW show this past Sept where we partnered with Justine Skye and subway talent that were dancers into this space. I worked with Randy Jackson and he had an artist from Singapore named Will. What I did in this show (I’ve been known to partner with a number of artists/talent such as Wyclef Jean, Pharell, Leah Labelle, Natasha Bedingfield, and many more) was different then my other shows due to venue space. We could only invite 120 people and showcased the brand alongside new artists. A lot of artists I have worked with, we work together right before they hit. I mean when we worked with Justine she had never performed a NYFW live show before and then right after, she was opening for Beyonce which was crazy! It was really about showcasing the talent and infusing them in a great spot with great people and it’s the heart of who we are as a brand. I love this! Working with Wyclef was amazing as it was 3 months of working with him and it was a dream for sure. He is a musical genious.
I love working with artists on the rise and infusing music into our shows and keeping it fresh. We also did a Buy Now Wear Now concept in 2016 in partnership with Shopify and we did the same in 2012 with Wyclef and made a microsite which seemed crazy then compared to how you can do it now. For me, I am always doing things before its time.
Care Bears is iconic and I love being involved in bringing them back. Working with them has been great. We did a sneak peek collection back in Aug which was also at Collette (an iconic store in Paris) and it sold out. I am doing it again in a much bigger collab for 2017 as they felt our brand had a lot of synergy and it is their 35th Anniversary! They felt it would be cool as they are collaborating with a number of brands but no one has created what I have for this collab! Excited to share more. Follow @boymeetsgirlusa and @stacyigel on Instagram as we reveal more in Jan/Feb 2017!
Read more from the Dec Issue.