Jackii Ramis

Courtesy of Indigo Apparel

Courtesy of Indigo Apparel

Age || 31

Company Name || Indigo Apparel 

Job Title ||  Owner & Lead Designer

Years Living In New York || Forever

Social Handles || @indigoapparelny @jackiiramis @studio.phantasmagoria

Company Website || Indigo Apparel 

What did you want to be while growing up?

A veterinarian! I love animals. 

How do you define success?

I define success by being able to do what I love everyday, surrounded by amazing, super supportive people, friends, and family. 

What is the most important thing you’ve learned since starting out?

That it’s very difficult to learn something without actually doing it. Trying things out and failing, and learning/moving on from things that don’t work, is very important.

What is your go-to motivational quote?

NVR GVE UP (I’m an eternal optimist. Credit @jellojungjoo)

Yanina May Photography

Yanina May Photography

What made you interested in starting this brand?

I studied Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, and then at Politecnico di Milano in Italy. While living in Europe, I felt as though zero/low waste living and recycling/composting had a high value and were second nature to most people. At first, this was kind of alien to me, but then I started applying this thinking to my industry. My thesis project was a mini-collection produced with sustainability in mind, with the assistance of an artist collective who helped me source eco materials. After graduation, I stayed in Milan and did a stage (internship) at a textile printing facility. I saw how much waste was made each day, and I promised myself I would do everything I could to not contribute to the excessive waste and pollution in the fashion industry. 

Because of this, by the time I came home, I wasn’t interested in working for big brands. I had a bad taste in my mouth for the way most fashion is produced, and I had a taste of a beautiful quality of life, and passion for what I think of as true fashion, which I learned from my professors Barbara Mugnai and Deborah Sinibaldi. I decided that I wanted to create a sustainable brand that filled the gaps in the industry. Myself and a friend took on the project, but for the past 6 years I have run the business myself. At the time, you could really only find sustainable basics easily (and for somewhat affordable prices, but still pretty expensive 7 years ago). Underwear, simple camisoles, tanks, etc. We wanted to create a specialty line of hand dyed activewear and everyday wear. The styles would be based on basics, but with a twist. And so, Indigo Apparel was born.

What is your creative process like?

Day-to-day production is pretty relaxed, but when designing a collection I tend to immerse myself as much as I can. I like to travel to get inspired, and I keep a notebook with me at all times for sketching.

Which women inspire you?

Every woman that I work alongside of everyday. I have been lucky enough to open an art collective in Rockaway Beach, NY, where my studio sits in between 2 of the most talented (tattoo) artists I know — Rebecca Betts, and my business partner at The Studio Phantasmagoria, Taryn Elise. Another female powerhouse less than 10 feet away from me: Nikki Dubensky of Sweetpeas & Gypsies. Nikki is a silversmith and extremely motivated business woman. Our boutique is full of locally made goods, tons of which are made by female artists, and these women never stop encouraging me, and motivating me to do better for my business and myself. Rockaway Beach is known to have many female entrepreneurs, and there are two that I absolutely idolize. Mara of Mara’s Ice Cream Parlor and Erin of Zingara Vintage. THEY’RE AMAZING I JUST LOVE THEM. Seriously, these women give me hope for my business, an ear to rant into, a shoulder to cry on… more support than I could have ever imagined to ask for. 

How do you overcome moments of self-doubt?

I do my absolute best to ignore them.

How do you balance the clothing line and the blog?

Haha.. I don’t think I do that great of a job balancing them! The blog takes the backseat, but I think eco-education is really important, so I try to maintain it as much as I can. My apprentice, Naomi, definitely helps with the balancing act.

Yanina May Photography

Yanina May Photography

What is the hardest part about being your own boss?

Finding a good work/life balance. Some would call me a workaholic (actually everyone I know)... but I find it so satisfying that I could just do art and design all day, every day. And I sometimes have to be stopped! So they say….

How do you handle situations where you feel overwhelmed?

Having the support of all the women in The Studio really helps. Since we’ve opened, a little over a year ago, it’s helped me a lot in that department. Whatever one of us is going through, someone has already dealt with it, or been through it, or is going through it at the same time. For the day-to-day, I am big on list making. I have a master list which can be overwhelming to look at. So, every night before I leave the shop, I make a list of what I need to get done the next day. I’m trying to be realistic instead of a sick overachiever. 

What has been the most rewarding thing since starting Indigo Apparel?

Meeting tons of cool people. I’ve met so many other makers and artists in the handmade and sustainable community. It’s surprisingly pretty small in New York, and it’s full of really talented, value-driven people that I’ve had the pleasure of building relationships with. 

Yanina May Photography

Yanina May Photography

How have you worked to keep female empowerment at the core of your brand?

I can’t say that I’ve done too much besides be true to my beliefs and desire to bring people up, and make them happy. I have done several photoshoots based on diversity. One of the campaigns, “Be Bold”, was centered around self-love and female empowerment. We interviewed many of the models (some professional, some not), and asked them what female empowerment means to them. Some of the videos are still up on our website.

What advice would you give to other women trying to enter your field?

Do it!!! There are no rules. You can do anything.

What are some of your goals moving forward for your brand?

More custom work! I love creating custom specialty pieces for all occasions. As it is, we do a lot of custom dying which makes each piece really special. I’d also like to have more of a web/online presence- hoping to dedicate some time to that soon.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Sarah Fielding