How Women in Fashion and Footwear Are Working and Living at Home Right Now

As the pandemic has forced everyone into an unprecedented way of life, many women are continuing to juggle careers, childcare and other responsibilities in new ways. Through the lenses of their own self-portraits, 17 designers and executives in fashion and footwear gave FN a glimpse at how they are living and working right now.

Laurence Dacade, Designer of Laurence Dacade and Chanel footwear

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Dacade with her daughter and son on the family’s houseboat in Paris.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Laurence Dacade

“A man works but a woman makes it work. Right now, women have more concerns than ever before, so we have to stay strong and keep going. I live on a houseboat moored on Paris’ River Seine, where I quarantined with my two adult children. I’ve been working every day, but still tried to relax, so I’ve been doing yoga every morning with my daughter or canoeing with my son. Yoga is more tricky on a boat, as even when the river is calm there are still little waves that make it difficult to balance. My daughter sings and my son composes music, so I also spend time listening to them practicing together.”

Laura Kim, Co-Creative Director of Oscar de la Renta and Monse

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Kim at home in downtown Manhattan, NYC.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Laura Kim

“For some reason I wake up at 5:30 every day. I never did that when I went to work. I don’t like takeout food, so I’ve been literally cooking three meals a day. I enjoy that. I think because we’re not sewing up clothes, I’m kind of taking it out on food. I’ve been on calls with other designers and we’ve been talking about how we can be more sustainable — to the environment and also to people, us and our staff. It’s been so much work: too many collections, a lot of mark- downs. I hope we can actually take this chance to make it better for the whole industry.”

Aurora James, Designer of Brother Vellies and Founder of the 15 Percent Pledge

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James at home in Brooklyn.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Aurora James

The designer has been using her time at home to establish not one but two new initia- tives. In April, she debuted Something Special, a monthly subscription program of hand- made home items sourced from artisan communities of color around the world. Then, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained speed, James debuted the 15 Percent Pledge to urge retailers to stock 15% of their products from black-owned businesses. “As a business owner, and during this pandemic, I am especially torn up by how much black businesses were suffering,” she said. “Launch- ing the 15 Percent Pledge is ONE thing I felt I could do to make a difference, as well as call on others to show their support.”

Maria Cornejo, Designer of Zero + Maria Cornejo

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Cornejo at home in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Maria Cornejo

“I just moved to a new apartment, so I’ve been enjoying my garden and my plants. I was sick for pretty much a month with COVID, so I was just in bed trying to look after myself, all while talking to the financial officer and our accountant and my business partner about how to move forward,” said the veteran independent designer. Her calm, longevity and holistic approach to sustainability and diversity (long before they were trends) continue to be an invaluable asset to the design community and organizations like the CFDA, where, as a new board member, she recently helped introduce new equality initiatives. “We’re all feeling really raw. But we have to remain hopeful, we have to effect change. How do we do that when we’re in survival mode? How do we keep going?” Much of Cornejo’s days in lockdown have been spent on Zoom calls with other designers to talk about reconfiguring the fashion calendar and implementing some of the sustainable processes she has championed for decades. “To produce less waste, it’s more of a holistic thing. It’s everything: It’s supply chain, it’s materials, it’s our team.” Another thing she’s passionate about? Voting. “Can you put this in the article, that we need to go vote on June 23? Say, ‘Maria said it.’”

Merah Vodianova, Designer

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Vodianova at home in Brighton, U.K.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Merah Vodianova

“By still moving forward with my new fashion brand, The Cutt Label — WhatsApp video is my new best friend – I have been able to provide working opportunities for the team. It’s kept us sane and excited. For the past few months, the routine has been waking up, doing some Christian meditation before leaving the bed, shower, a super green smoothie, maybe a bad sneaky donut, then I whip out the laptop and it’s on to video calls most of the day. I have found that meditation has helped me a lot during this time. Finding ways to move forward in the best way possible in all areas of life, be it family, relationships or business, has kept me in a good place. I’m a planner, so for me, an organized life is a relaxed and happy life.”

Tracy Margolies, Chief Merchant, Saks Fifth Avenue

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Margolies at home with her son Reed.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Tracy Margolies

“I’m trying to create as much of a routine as I can with work and for my son Reed. It has definitely been a challenging time, but we are making the most of it. I’m cherishing the extra time I get to spend with my son and the fun things we are doing together. I’ve had to push myself as a leader and bring everyone together in ways we haven’t in the past. While we are not physically together, we are all still united and it is very important to connect and communicate. My team participates in daily 9 a.m. Zoom calls, as well as fun team-building activities. We are doing everything from re-creating one of Jimmy Fallon’s music videos to having all-team happy hours via Zoom.”

Jennifer Chamandi, Designer

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Chamandi at home in London with her twin daughters.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Jennifer Chamandi

“Usually I am a highly organized person, but the last few months have made me realize I have to let go of all usual structure and routine and go with the flow. My life has gotten even busier as I have to juggle childcare full-time alongside running my business and the household. Now that Italy is opening up again, my manufacturers have started production, so that is also keeping me busy as I have to do regular calls and check-ins with them, whereas usually I would visit in person. I have had to start sneaking into the office to be able to manage it all — and for my own sanity. In spite of all the chaos, I wouldn’t change a thing as it has taught me so much, especially in regard to motherhood. I feel like I am much closer with my daughters now and feel much more confident in myself as a mother.”

Jessica Rich, Designer

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Rich at home in Los Angeles.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Jessica Rich

“I love not having a schedule, because I’m always on a schedule. Hot yoga is the No. 1 thing I miss. I do it five times a week. I’m doing virtual yoga [now]. I’m taking better care of myself — taking all of my vitamins. I’m usually go-go-go, between New York and L.A., but I’ve been able to actually sit down for a minute. So I’m designing a lot, and I’m bringing my samples home. I walk in them a few days a week here. We had to close our brick-and-mortar on Melrose on March 15. It was a little shocking because I had no notice. We were focusing on online already, but we really turned things up. I’m thankful that we have customers all over the world.”

Sandra Choi, Creative Director of Jimmy Choo

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Choi at home in London.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Sandra Choi

“I start the day with a walk. Since the start of the year, I’ve been more conscious about my well-being, and I had been walking to work every day. It clears my head and gets me ready for the day. I try to stick to my normal schedule as much as possible. I check in with colleagues regularly and have numerous calls. My desk is my kitchen table as this is the best part of the house for Wi-Fi. It usually gets taken over throughout the day with school work and crafts with the girls!”

Hilary Krane, EVP, Chief Administrative Office & General Counsel, Nike Inc.

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Krane at home with her children.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Hilary Krane

“I’m never not a mother and I’m never not a Nike executive, so I don’t like the idea of ‘balance.’ I’m doing both all the time and it’s not a problem for me. I love it. Right now, I’m quarantined with my three adult children. This is the thing about parenting: When your children grow up, their needs change from being really physical — and taking care of them in that way — to more emotional. This is a rough time for young people in America: They’re concerned about their future, they’re afraid about
the state of the world, they’re troubled by what they’re seeing in terms of race relations. So for me, it’s talking to them about how to keep perspective and remain optimistic and hopeful for the future.”

Tabitha Simmons, Designer

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Simmons at home in the Hamptons.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Tabitha Simmons

“What’s been tough is not being able to touch and feel [shoes] and to get inspired,” said the designer, who has been at home with two teen- age sons and a toddler, while trying out new business strategies such as joining Amazon’s new independent designer storefront. “It’s a snowball effect. Making shoes in Italy was shut down, shops were closed, you almost had to just let it go. I was always at the office or traveling. Now I’ve been very hands-on with my three children with homeschooling — I have a whole new respect for teachers. I’ve also taken up their hobbies, like doing a 3,000-piece Lego set and now we’re working on another one.”

Rebecca Minkoff, Designer

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Minkoff at home on Long Island.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Rebecca Minkoff

“We want to remain somewhat aspirational, we are selling an accessible luxury product but there’s no hiding real life. There’s a balance. My life is messy and I don’t know how to not show that.” The designer has been busy baking and keeping up with her kids, while remaining in constant communication with her consumer base through Instagram Lives and her “Superwomen” podcast, all of which are done from home on Long Island.

Chloe Gosselin, Designer

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Gosselin at home in Las Vegas.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Chloe Gosselin

The designer was ready for a change before the pandemic hit, editing down her collection and continuing to shift to a direct-to-consumer model. “Change is needed. Our industry is not just about fashion shows and the glitter and the bloggers. It’s about real people working in factories to make a beautiful product. The fact that we need to do less is important. I feel like this could be a moment for small designers,” she said, noting her new venture with Amazon Fashion’s digital storefront. “It’s our time to tell our story as individuals, and people are prone to listen right now.”

Anine Bing, Designer

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Bing at home in Los Angeles.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Anine Bing

“I’ve always been a morning person. I start by waking up early and making breakfast for my family. It’s been really rewarding to spend so much time [together]. I was so busy building my business for so many years and I would feel guilty about not spending enough time with my kids. Now, we get to take time out to relax and play games, cook and go on walks.”

Jori Miller Sherer, President of Minnetonka Moccasin Co.

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Miller Sherer at home.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Jori Miller Sherer

“I try to remind myself and my employees that we are not working from home for fun. We’re working remotely during a global pandemic. We must be generous with ourselves and each other. [The biggest lesson] has been learning to focus on people first. This is a scary time in the world and making sure our employees have what they need must be the priority. And even on the worst days of back-to-back video calls, I still get an extra moment or two with my kids that I would not have had if I wasn’t working from home. Those add up and have been a gift.”

Lauren King, Senior Marketing Manager, Merrell

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King at home in Michigan with her son.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Lauren King

“The most difficult part is making sure I can be present as a coworker and a team- mate, and also for a 3-year-old. He’s pretty high-maintenance and needs attention when he says he needs attention,” said King, who often conducts meetings and calls with “Ice Age” and “Toy Story” in the background. “I am most proud of the way our team has come together over the last couple months to adjust to the situation and be supportive of each other, knowing that our home lives are all in disarray for different reasons.”

Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Ignatova, Co-Founders, By Far

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From left: Sisters Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Ignatova at home in Bulgaria.
CREDIT: Courtesy of By Far

“We are now in one house, with three kids — two 6-year-old boys and a 3-year-old girl. We thought we could be more productive together and help each other. I think the biggest challenge [right now] is when you wake up and instantly start working, you don’t take time for yourselves. We just try to push ourselves to feel more positive and bring our energy up. We have a saying in Bulgaria that for every bad thing, there is a good. We are thinking more creatively and trying to tap into that — not only for design but for community building. We are looking forward to creating special events for our environment. I cannot wait for this to be over so that we can celebrate life and being healthy.”

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