1. Please tell Cemeli followers a bit more about yourself
I’m a 2nd generation manufacturer based in NY. Started by my father who immigrated from Greece, my family’s business has been rooted in the garment district since 1980, focused on luxury (furs & leathers). After college, I worked at Ralph Lauren & Tommy Hilfiger and then transitioned to the family business. We have been producing luxury goods for the domestic and international market for 40 years.
2. Please tells us about how your designs came to represent something extremely hopeful amid these uncertain times of the pandemic?
I quickly realised luxury goods would be futile in these times. So, we decided to pivot our resources immediately. Myself and my team repurposed our machines and factory to making PPE goods for the community and clients. Our agility as a small domestic business allowed us to utilise our network and resources to start to meet the needs of the community quickly.
Photo: New York Times
3. What do you hope to achieve by refocusing your business on designing masks and protective kits?
We hope to provide for the local community & our clients in these difficult times and fill the void where the supply chain has been broken. Most of my staff has been with my family’s business for 15+ years, so being to able to keep them safely working is very important to me. We also want to show the country that we can bring back production to scale in the USA.
4. Sustainability and responsible sourcing are a strong priority, nowadays, what steps do you think the world of fashion needs to take to become more sustainable?
Producing and sourcing domestically is the first key component to sustainability. We have strong relationships with our suppliers and are a vertically integrated company, so we are involved in every step from sourcing, to sampling & scaled up production. Transparency, a second important key to sustainability, is something every company should incorporate into their policies. At the core of these are the relationships and commitments you have to your vendors, your products, and your customer.
5. How are your designs favouring sustainability?
Being domestically focused and vertically integrated, we are able to source and produce with commitments to orders. This helps eliminate excess and waste going to landfills. We can also pivot our resources to quick changes in the business since we work at every step of the chain.
6. What has been the most surprising thing that you have learnt about running your own business during such challenging times?
Our ability to quickly pivot under such challenging circumstances. We still face a lot of uncertainty as a society over the next few months as to how to get back to normal, but I have renewed faith in our ability to rise up to the challenge.
7. If you could describe your brand today in five words – what would they be?
High Quality - Handmade - Sustainably Focused
8. What would you like the Cemeli reader to know about these masks or protective kits?
These kits and masks were produced with the customers safety in mind. In creating these, I kept thinking, what would my family, my staff and my community need to stay safe and protected during these times. We kept our staff safely employed making these and showed the community that local independent designers and manufacturers are essential and valuable.
9. How do you feel about being featured at several airports around the country?
I feel proud to be featured and working with many airport teams around the US. I hope it can grow into further projects.