From Pre-Med to Design School: Meet Jesse of Factory45

This is a guest post by Factory45’er Jesse Syswerda, founder of Eenvoud.

The Beginning

My story begins on a frozen night in 2009. I was a senior in college, pre-med and creatively starving. In the wee hours one Michigan night, I started a fashion blog (at that time, fashion blogs were just coming into their prime). I named it ‘The Modern Muse’, photographed and wrote for it almost every day and put all of myself into it. Fast forward nine months, and in lieu of taking the MCATS, I found myself working at a fashion startup in New York City. It was a ballsy move, but one that I felt I didn’t really have a choice in. Starting that blog that one night was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I spent the next four years trying to find my place in the creative fashion space in New York. I worked as an intern at a fashion startup called StyleCaster, as an assistant stylist on editorial photo shoots, as a freelance writer for sites like Fashionista and Yahoo! and as an account manager at a creative agency. While each position taught me much, those four years left me feeling unsatisfied; in my mind I was just moving around content that others had already created. I wanted to be at the start of it all. I wanted to be a designer.

The Middle

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Risk is something that I’ve healthily practiced in my short lifespan (I’m 27), so in 2012 I took another leap far away from my stable job and into the Associates Program in Fashion Design at Parsons. My ex-boss thought I was nuts. I told him I wanted to start my own design company. He thought I was even more nuts. So I went for it.

Parsons was a blur of fabric, pattern paper, all-nighters, steep learning curves, major highs, some sticky situations, great new friends and figuring out who I wanted to be as a designer. I’ve always been a minimalist, a bit of tomboy and knew that I wanted to create the elevated basics that I struggled so hard to find; the clothing that you don’t think about while wearing because it’s so you. The pieces in people’s wardrobes that have become an extension of themselves. The garments that you keep fixing so you can wear them over and over.

I felt that the industry was comprised of too much of everything – too many designs, too many seasons, too much turn-over, all made too quickly. During this phase, two other things happened: I took a few sustainability classes and I started working as a fit model, which exposed me to the behind-the-scenes of the design world. I started to learn how poorly and cheaply most garments were made, how quickly things were shipped back and forth to Asia, how low the ethical standards were for many workers, how harmful the materials and dyes many designers were using for both the environment and for the people who were wearing them. When I left Parsons, I knew what I had to do. I had to create the sustainably-made, elevated basics that I couldn’t find on the market.

The Present

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Since graduating, I’ve been working on EENVOUD, which means ‘simplicity’ in Dutch. The plus side of my design and fit modeling background is that I’m doing the pattern-making myself in my studio and fitting on myself (which is a funny sight). My first round of garments will be mainly made in a fabric called cupro, which is a bi-product of the cotton industry. It feels like a beautiful washed silk, but is actually made from a silky strand that is wrapped around the cotton seed and is normally discarded during cotton production. The major plus side of cupro is that unlike silk, it’s machine washable. We’ll move into production in New York this fall.

The Future

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My mission is to create beautiful, consciously-made basics that will live with you for years. To keep garments in production for years past their season so that you can come back to a loved garment or fit. To focus on aesthetics and updates in the sustainability world as it evolves. Essentially, to create the essence of a cherished menswear brand — for women.

To continue following Jesse’s story you can keep in touch on Instagram here.