Wednesday, October 2, 2013

CJ by Cookie Johnson: 'Woven With a Little Bit of Self-Esteem'

(All smiles next to the talented Cookie Johnson at Nordstrom in Glendale)

My few minutes speaking with Cookie Johnson, the brain behind CJ by Cookie Johnson, was a comfortable meeting filled with large doses of inspiration and heartfelt chatter. Our interview took place last Saturday just in front of the "Point of View" department at the new gorge Nordstrom in Glendale (at the Americana). The special public event was a delight to attend. I observed women enjoying the chance to casually meet Cookie in between heading in and out of the fitting rooms trying on and shopping her line.

Please check out my interview, below, with Cookie. Mother of two and wife of Earvin "Magic" Johnson (who showed up later in the event to show his support!), Cookie talks about her backgound in fashion, her vision in expanding CJ by Cookie Johnson, and why women have shed tears after trying on her signature jeans.

Considering your background in fashion, what does it feel like to return to your roots?

It feels like I came home. I went to school at Michigan University, and my degree is in retail and clothing and textiles. I have a four-year degree in that. And when I left there, my goal was to be a buyer. I went to work for a department store, started off as an assistant and moved all the way up and became a buyer. I was buying for seven years. Then I moved to California and got married, and stopped working completely.

Did it feel like something was missing when you stopped working in the fashion industry?

Yeah, because I was working since I was 16. I mean, I had to. If I wanted any money in my pocket, I had to work! [laughs] So it’s just a mentality I was used to. It actually felt odd not working, but you get busy with two kids. And then as one went off to college, I was like “Well...You know what...Maybe, let’s try a little something.” I  dibble-dabbled and I loved it! So we’ve been doing this for four years.

(The "Faith" straight-cut jean was a delight to try on! Perfect for a "Casual Friday" at work. Sooo professional-chic!)
Basically, CJ by Cookie Johnson came about after you realized the void in the market for jeans for the fit, curvy women...Is that correct?

Yes, exactly! To me, I call it a “real, feminine body.” A body that’s a real, feminine body -- premium denim just doesn’t address her. They don’t. The rise is too low for her...Every time you bend over, everything’s falling out. If you have any kind of a thigh, or if you work out, forget it! You can’t get the jean over it!

What’s been your biggest joy with this line?  

Well...I knew it was going to be amazing to create this jean ‘cause I knew I wasn’t the only woman out there [who had problems with finding a great-fitting premium jean], but I didn’t know the reception I would get. Like the first event we had, everybody came to see me because they wanted to say hi to me. They would say, “We love you and we  love your husband, but I don’t wear jeans so I’m just gonna leave.” And I was like, “No you’re not. I’m going to take you in that dressing room!” I drag them in there, and they put them on...And oh my god, the joy on their face to actually find a jean that fit! I’ve had some women crying, and that’s the truth. Because they already had the shoes, the jacket, the shirt, the whole thing…

(Edgy and sexy -- the "Glory" jean was a fun style to pose in!)
From what I understand, you started out partnering up with Michael Glasser?

Yes. Michael was the original one who created the premium denim, with 7 for All Mankind and Citizens of Humanity. He got me in the business, and with his expertise, I learned a lot from him. And then, I moved on to another partner because what I found is that...I wanted to find someone who I could expand the line with. Michael only did premium denim, and now, I want to add tops and jackets and more. ‘Cause it’s the same thing [as with jeans] I want a T-shirt that can fit over my curves. I mean, so many jackets, I can’t button them or when I do, they just don’t fit right. So I want to develop jackets and tops for the same woman. But Michael couldn’t do that. So now I’m partnered with a guy who has a huge factory. He offers lots of possibilities -- endless! His name is Mitchell Quaranta and the company is Swatfame. We began our partnership last year.

What about sizing of the jeans?

We start at a size 2 and we go all the way up to a size 18. Most premium jeans stop at a size 12 or so. And if its a size 14, it’s not a true 14!

Price point?

We start at about $138 and go up to maybe $198. Thing is, if it’s a quality product you want to invest in, and if it gives you the look and feeling you want, it’s worth the investment. I’ve had so many women walk out of stores with their heads up and the confidence that they didn’t have when the first walked in. I’ve left the store with almost tears a few times. Because when you see these women who have had babies, and gained a few pounds, and then all of a sudden they can’t wear a jean anymore...It makes a woman feel like she’s not pretty anymore, and that’s wrong. So when women try on our jeans, they’re like “Oh my gosh..”  

From all that you’ve explained, CJ by Cookie Johnson jeans really do seem like more than just jeans

They really are. We say that these jeans are woven with a little bit of self-esteem. Now I want to see you try them on!

And as you can see from the pics above, I sure did! The fit was amazing, sizing was right on, and I especially enjoyed the higher-back with both styles. During my interview with Cookie, she also shared the exclusive pieces of her line she’s created in commemoration of “World Aids Day” on December 1st. That exclusive article will be featured in Agenda Magazine! Stay tuned! 

To check out the fab styles of CJ by Cookie Johnson jeans, head on over to good 'ol Happy shopping! 

(Was a joy witnessing the support of Cookie's husband - Magic Johnson - at the event!)

No comments: