It’s pretty amazing to see how you can from losing your six-figure job and having $5 in your bank account, to designing clothes that have been worn by your favorite celebrities.
Junny Ann Hibbert is one of six siblings and the daughter of a seamstress from Kingston, Jamaica. For Junny, the ability to create beautiful garments is inherent. Junny’s mom was a single mother who created all of the family’s clothing. She made her patterns from the newspaper, and was so skilled that people would always ask where Junny’s clothes were from. Fast forward a couple of decades, and Junny has turned her creative genes into JUNNY, an NYC born and bred brand that makes luxury bespoke garments. JUNNY has been operating for just over 2 years, and it all started with a single Instagram post of one of Junny’s signature caftans. Since then, Junny has focused on building her eponymous brand and embracing the custom aspect of her business.
JUNNY has become a darling in the hearts and closets of men and women, and plus size clients in particular flock to Junny’s beautiful garments. While JUNNY’s offerings are pricier than those of big-box stores, the experience is what sets JUNNY apart. Most plus size sections of stores are relegated to the back and have limited options. When shopping with JUNNY, however, “[People] are paying for that experience where someone is going to treat them like a person, treat them like they’re important, and make a beautiful garment.”
Image credit: Junny.nyc
Junny’s passion for designing garments isn’t just evident, but also incredibly genuine. “I have this love for fabric, texture, creating…and it opens up this whole community of people. You’re not just making a garment; you are helping people identify with themselves. You’re taking them out of their comfort zone.” So, beyond her lifelong love of design, what inspires Junny to keep making? “I’m crazy,” she giggled. On a serious note, “For me, it’s the satisfaction of seeing the look on their face… the smile on their face.”
Junny also loves social commerce as a whole, and that’s one of the things she enjoys about working with NiLu in particular. NiLu is about community, and that feeling of community is particularly important for makers. “Find a community,” Junny said. “Find people who embrace you and embrace what you want. You might find that the community you had isn’t a community who now embraces you.” Thankfully, NiLu has welcomed Junny with open arms. For most retailers, however, the same support isn’t there for makers. “The burden of proof is hard,” Junny explained. “No one comes and gives us money.”
Junny thinks there is quite a bit of room for improvement. “I think it’s not just about embracing [makers], but learning about our businesses and finding out what are the best ways that [retailers] can actually help us. And is it the big box retailers? Probably not.” It can be discouraging to try your hand as a maker, but Junny advises that you “you gotta just do it” and “start where you are.”
Her biggest advice is as follows:
“There are all the things about strategy, and business plans, and all of that stuff, and waiting for funding, and waiting for someone to buy into your idea. But for us, as women of color, if we wait, that will never happen for us. So I always say just do it. Do it with the fear, do it with the tears running down your face, do it with that pain in your chest. I am quite familiar with that pain in my chest. But do it for that joy that it gives you too, that sense of freedom. It’s kind of all wrapped into it.
Junny admits that even if there is talent and execution, it can still be tough to get your name out there. “There are so many amazing makers in this community that never get that exposure. I think it would be amazing if there was a launchpad.”
For Junny, one of the things she wishes in particular is for more investors to support women-owned businesses. For her own business, she has aspirations to do a capsule collection that’s featured by retailers like Net-A-Porter or Matches Fashion. “I would like to like to grow, but I would like to grow slowly,” she explained.
“‘Do what makes your heart sing,’ is what I say. I’m a maker because I found my joy. I found my purpose. My reason for being.”
Image credit: Junny.nyc