How many times in the last few years have you asked a friend about a particularly cute item she is wearing only to be told it was purchased at Madewell, J. Crew’s younger-but-equally cool sibling? It’s happened to us more times than we can count. The label has come to epitomize a certain brand of effortless-and-yet-still-put-together cool-girl style, which is exactly why it has become a mainstay in chic women’s wardrobes all over the country (that Alexa Chung collab didn’t hurt either). In an effort to learn even more about one of our favorite brands, we caught up the label’s newest Head Of Design, Joyce Lee—who was promoted when predecessor Somsack Sikhounmuong moved to J. Crew—to talk about her path to success, the future of the line and a new denim project to get excited about.
Her First Job
"I always babysat the neighborhood kids—since I loved babies and children, it set the foundation for being able to work hard and have fun at the same time."
Her Style Muses
"A handful of women of the '70s—Charlotte Rampling, Jane Birkin and my mother."
The Best Career Advice She's Received
"At one point in my career when I was making a switch, I was told not to feel restricted to doing just one thing, and given the opportunity to try out something new—it opened up my world and gave me the confidence to apply what I had learned to so much more!"
Where She Finds Inspiration
"It usually stems from what’s happening around me: People-watching can be so much fun, finding a vintage treasure at a flea market, traveling—just being outside of my daily routine."
The Hardest Part of Transitioning Into Her New Role
"The hardest part has been transitioning into the new role at the same time as becoming a new mother, but I love doing both so much that it almost feels natural, having been part of the brand for the past 7 years. This role is definitely new and different for me, but I'm enjoying the challenge of being involved in so many aspects of the business."
Why She's Excited About The Future of Madewell
"It's a lot of fun working on upcoming collections, thinking about what our girl loves from us, how she lives and how much opportunity there is to give her even more to complete her lifestyle."
Her Wardrobe Staples
"Lots of denim, jumpsuits and shirt dresses. I'm also a sucker for eyelet, embroidery and anything with texture. Loads of leather boots and bags too."
What She Wears When She Wants To Feel Glamorous
"A spritz of perfume and sometimes a pair of heels!"
Where She Wants To Travel Next
"I would love to go to Peru! The food, the textiles and the culture are all draws."
Items In Heavy Rotation Right Now
"Caudalie beauty elixir, Lucas' papaw ointment for my lips, a manicure (either no polish, or bright red nails) and our new flared denim overalls for fall."
What She's Currently Listening To
"Tom Petty, A Tribe Called Quest, Sister Nancy and Blood Orange."
Her Favorite Way To Decompress
"Anything that involves wine and cheese."
A Typical Workday At Madewell
In the office. @joycejjoyce_
"I start every morning with an iced coffee, and usually just jump into meetings—it might be a fitting, picking prints and fabrics or a creative brainstorming session. Every day is different, which keeps it interesting. It's so exciting to get to think about the Madewell girl and her lifestyle—finding ways to keep things fresh and exciting but still inherently “Madewell"."
Her Favorite Social Media Platform
"Instagram. There's so much great visual inspiration, but it can definitely be a never-ending black hole. "
Favorite Upcoming Project
"We paired with Blue Jeans Go Green to launch a national denim recycling drive to take old denim and turn it into housing insulation, through Habitat for Humanity. We are setting out to collect 40,000 jeans! Help us get there by dropping off a pair at a Madewell store this weekend– there will be a few surprises waiting for you. Details here. "