Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Janelle spent all of her younger years in visual and performing art magnet schools including the acclaimed Design and Architecture Senior High where she specialized in Fashion Design.
After graduating and with the help and support of her parents, Janelle went on to attend The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Knowing she wanted a life long career in fashion design, she decided to stay in the fashion mecca.
One week after graduating, Janelle landed her first design position at Liz Claiborne, the label she had seen so many times in her mother’s closet as a little girl and was now apart of.
Janelle has shared her talents with many companies from Ralph Lauren to Ann Taylor. She is a well rounded designer designing mainly cut and sew knit and woven apparel in all markets including active and athleisure, contemporary, missy, juniors, career, casual and maternity.
Janelle currently lives in Harlem with her fiancé and 2 year old daughter. She loves macaroni and cheese and alternative R&B.
Why did you choose to become a designer?
JR: I chose to become a designer because of a moment I shared with my mother when I was about 8 years old. My mother and I were in a fitting room at Casual Corner (a ladies sportswear store that was very popular in the 80s and part of the 90s) and she was trying on some clothes. When my mother put on one of the outfits she brought into the fitting room, her confidence in herself came through. The moment I saw her light up like that in that outfit I told myself that I wanted to be able to make not only my mother feel like that, but other women as well. I wanted to make women feel comfortable and confident and further more, I wanted them to be able to do it at an affordable and attainable level.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
JR: One common misconception people have about what I do is that I attend fashion shows all the time, sketch ideas in a large loft space downtown with lots of natural sunlight, have an outstanding expensive wardrobe and never eat. Although I do attend an occasional fashion show, I spend most of a the day checking e-mails from overseas vendors on delivery ready dates on samples, approving lab dips and print strike-offs, creating tech packs, re-coloring prints, making color palettes and mood boards, attending fittings and the list goes on and on. On most days, I am doing all those things in a pair of my favorite jeans or leggings and a cool t-shirt I bought from Beacon’s Closet.
Are there any types of clothing/footwear/accessories that you avoid wearing?
JR: I avoid wearing ANYTHING that makes me physically uncomfortable because when I feel uncomfortable it makes me a miserable person to be around. Style does not have to be uncomfortable.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
JR: I am fascinated at the moment by my southern heritage and the women in my family. Most of my family is from Alabama and Florida and the older generation of women in my family had and have a very interesting sense of style and understanding of what style and fashion is. Right now I am fascinated specifically with my late grandmother Sally who from family photos, had the greatest most unique style in the family.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
JR: The biggest lesson I have learned since I started my career is that you have to have a very thick skin. Not every design will be selected for the line. Not everyone is going to like you, but you have to continue to learn from every experience whether good or bad and continue to do what you love and do your best and not feel discouraged.