Dreams do come true!
I just want to start by saying how proud I am of designer Janelle Funari. Last year, I asked her what she hoped to achieve within the next year. You know what she said? “To open my first FUNARI store in NYC!” Guess what?! She did it! Janelle opened up her very own store in DUMBO, Brooklyn. I had the honor of attending her fashion show. As I watched her cut the red ribbon, all I could think about is how dreams really do come true.
Beautiful. Dynamic. Indestructible.
Last week I wore the FUNARI tank top that I received from the fashion show to my spin class and I was on fire! I was peddling up this really tough “climb” and I really thought I wouldn’t last through the song. My heart was racing and I could feel the sweat dripping down my neck. I looked at the woman staring back at me in the mirror wearing my FUNARI tank top and thought ” I can do this.” Seeing myself wearing FUNARI gave me the extra push to work harder, be better, and be on fire.
So without further ado, here is the my exclusive interview with designer Janelle Funari.
Jenny A. (Me): Tell me a little bit about the collection that I saw on the runway. What is the collection about? Was there a message behind it?
Janelle: The collection is called Fire! It was the launch of the men’s and woman’s swim line. The collection is all inclusive with unisex styling and gender neutral pieces that can be worn by all. There is something for everyone in this collection! The message behind the collection was about showing diversity in size, shape & color! We want you to feel good in your skin, good about where you are in your life & good about your fitness journey. Beauty comes from within! We want to empower both men and woman to feel confident, sexy and bold.
Me: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Janelle: My inspiration comes from living and breathing the NYC lifestyle. Being around this multicultural city which is constantly moving, keeps my mind spinning towards new styles and designs! Living in NYC has inspired me to want functionality, practicality and amazing edgy styles.
Me: It was so exciting watching you cut the red ribbon at your store’s Grand Opening! What was it like to cut the red ribbon on the runway?
Janelle: Cutting the red ribbon was a BIG moment in my career! I have waited a long time to open a store and cutting this ribbon made me realize all I have overcome in this life. I now know and believe that with perseverance and determination, dreams can come true!
Me: Just like the people who live in New York, I felt like your models were very diverse. How do you find your models?
Janelle: The model selection is very important to me. I am always looking for confidence and an athletic look. I feel the models now understand my vision and that the universe sends them to me. There are models I find on Instagram and request them to walk in my fashion shows. I am always ecstatic when they say “yes”! I love working with dancers because it shows that movement is possible in my brand. I want clients to know my products are beautiful, indestructible and can stretch and move with you!
Me: What was it like to have your very own fashion show?
Janelle: Having my own show was a great experience! I was able to control the concept and really put my heart into it. It was nice to be able to show my inspiration and not have anyone hold me back from my vision. I know I can have outlandish ideas but I believe I can always create a bigger and better experience. I think shows can only improve. It is important to a brand and the designer that it needs to feel authentic and genuine for someone to buy the brand; they need to feel a connection. This is what I am trying to accomplish with my presentation.
Me: Which outfit from your collection was the most challenging to create / design?
Janelle: The most challenging piece would have to be the tailored athletic looks. For this collection that would be the 3/4 camouflage coat. I was mixing (1) a water proof denim bonded fabric with (2) a recycled textured poly backed with (3) wool lined with (4) cashmere with (5) a leather trim. The cut had to be tailored to the body and fit well. It is very complicated and challenging to sew together fabrics that stretch and don’t stretch. It’s a slow and steady process but in the end it is very rewarding!
Me: Do you have any advice for upcoming designers?
Janelle: Always follow your dream. Push yourself to be different then the rest, constantly sketch, and learn “The Business”! I always tell students that it is best to learn the business side of fashion and to also be creative. Take a job in a store or intern with a business. With both of these things you can be successful!
Be sure to check out Janelle’s store which is located at:
145 Front Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn. (Right off the F train York stop)
Right now they are appointment only. In spring/summer, the hours will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday with NO appointment necessary from 11-7pm.
A special congratulations and thank you to Janelle Funari for her fabulous fashion show! Check out my top looks from the Fire collection here. If you want to see her other collections, check here.
Also a special thanks to photographer Noel Valero for capturing the moments with his spectacular photos.
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