A former Wall Street stockbroker, Jay Godfrey launched his namesake line in 2005. This month he opened his first boutique in New York’s Meatpacking District.
Did you always plan to open a standalone store when you launched your line?
Absolutely. Ever since I launched my collection six years ago, I wanted to have a 100% curated environment that represents all we do as a brand.
What made you choose Washington Street?
The southern end of the Meatpacking District is on fire and we found the perfect space sandwiched between an Intermix and a Christian Louboutin store. Our ceiling is the underside of the original Highline and we have left it completely exposed! I love the vibe of the area with wonderful cafes, stores, hotels, and nightspots.
Is there a store nearby you see your customer shopping at?
Our girl shops all over the Meatpacking. She buys knits at Vince, shoes at Jeffrey or Louboutin, her iPad/iPhones at the Apple store, lingerie at La Perla, and brunches at the Standard Grill.
What will be available at your namesake store that is not available at other retail store?
Our first boutique will house a lot of exclusive items – dresses, tops, scarves, and other separates – that aren’t available anywhere else! We also have a super chic collection of Assouline coffee table books that explore the arts, travel, food, architecture and, of course, fashion!
Your line is available at high-end retailers such Bergdorf Goodman and websites such as Rent the Runway. How do you differentiate the pieces stocked at each?
It’s very interesting to see how each retailer has a different customer base with different lifestyles. I design the collection in such a way that offers the retailer a number of different ways of merchandising the collection. Some retailers have more a ladylike client base and others are more edgy. I love visiting as many of our multi-brand stores as possible so I get to learn so much about what their lifestyles demand in terms of fashion.
Where do you do your production?
Both in China and in New York City.
What’s your biggest horror story?
I have been extremely lucky so far in that there aren’t too many horror stories! But, as a company, we have had cargo coming from overseas and a few thousand dresses and tops go missing for a few days –those were certainly some sleepless nights but they worked themselves out.
Would you design childrenswear at some point?
I really would love to design childrenswear — I already envision some of our best sellers in miniature form. I would also love to do a maternity collection one day.
You are known for dressing young celebrities. How do you go about this — do you work with stylists or directly with the stars’ publicists?
We definitely have a bunch of great relationships with some of the top stylists in both New York and LA who put the collection on the young celeb clients and it is thrilling when the stars go out and buy it themselves and wear in when they are not on the red carpet.
Is there any starlet you’d love to dress in the future?
I would love to dress Rooney Mara.
You used to work in finance. What skills did you learn there that helped you in your design business?
My background in finance has helped me a lot as I can think with both sides of my brain. While it has definitely helpful most of the time, it’s sometimes a challenge to wear both hats.
What do you think designers most under estimate starting out with out a business partner to guide them in that area?
Most designers are left brain thinkers and don’t think about the actual business side of it. You actually have to sell your designs to make it. I think many new designers overdesign and overconceptualize.
To what do you attribute your success most?
Luck — being in the right place at the right time. This has been the story of my career. I have been in the strangest scenarios — on an airplane, at a cocktail party, at the gym — and the most unbelievable opportunities have presented themselves.