In a bi-weekly series, we're asking female executives, founders, CEOs—basically, boss ladies—about their "power suit" a.k.a. the outfit they wear every day for easy dressing to conquer whatever the job throws at them.
For those who are still WFH because of the pandemic or simply want something cute to lounge around in, the answer is Eberjey. Since the '90s, the lifestyle brand has made a name for itself for crafting the softest, comfiest sleep- and loungewear. Case in point: Eberjey's MVP, the Gisele pajamas, are beloved by celebrities including Kylie Jenner and Oprah. But founders Ali Mejia and Mariela Rovito started Eberjey in their twenties with little to no knowledge of the fashion industry, as Mejia recalls. Her dream to start a sleepwear brand (no pun intended) began after a trip to Florence, Italy, which she paid for with a severance check from her job on Wall Street.
"I did not like what I was doing and I wanted to lead a more creative life. I had been checking things off my 'to accomplish' list for way too long. It was time to follow my heart and passion," she says. "I never wanted to be a fashion designer [in the traditional sense], but I really did love sleepwear and lingerie. I was obsessed with what my mother brought back from Europe and I always loved how europeans took [what they wore underneath their clothes] more seriously than Americans."
Mejia wanted to bring that excitement to the U.S. market. Like many entrepreneurs, she laid out a plan and threw everything into starting her own label. Mejia got in touch with a retired pattern maker for Natori through a friend of her mom's and subsequently learned everything she could from the woman. "I started making samples with her and I showed them to my friends and they loved it. Once I had the shapes, we started calling around Miami to source fabric. We took some risks, like buying thousands of yards of fabric just to make [a few] things," she says.
Those were the early days. Now Mejia says there is no such garment industry in Miami. They currently manufacture Eberjey's sleepwear, loungewear, and daywear in Peru and China while swim comes from the Dominican Republic, using European fabrics. What makes Eberjey's pieces so soft and comfy, in particular, is Lenzing Modal, a fiber from an Austrian company that is harvested through sustainable methods in a closed loop system. This fabric is used in the Gisele pajamas and Eberjey's one-piece sleep rompers. (Full disclosure: I own one and I wear it every night in the summer.)
The brand now also offers swimsuits, accessories like sleep masks, and third-party beauty products, and its place in the fashion world as a company that offers evergreen products has helped it survive and thrive, even as the pandemic wreaks havoc on fashion businesses. "It was scary. The first month, we had to lay off people and furlough others. It was tough for everyone," Mejia says. "We regrouped as a team with one dream and there was a lot of communication, brainstorming, and being on message, that eventually helped us. We were also luckily in the right category."
Like millions of other women whose wardrobes transitioned from business casual to couch chic, Mejia's work-from-home outfits have an emphasis on comfy, and, of course, incorporate some Eberjey pieces. However, her looks are still put together and presentable for Zoom meetings. Check them out, below. (Warning: You will also become obsessed with her interior design skills.)
Her Morning Routine
"I wake up around 7 a.m., walk the dogs, make my tea, then I do a little bit of meditation. I find that practice important for centering myself, so I try to do it in the morning and at night. Then I'll do some exercise—right now it's a lot of Peloton because of the pandemic. I used to take Latin dance lessons and I miss it so much. I tried the virtual Zoom classes, but I find it really hard dancing like that. I make it a point to have my personal time until 10 a.m. That's when I get all my personal stuff done, like getting my two kids—I have two girls—ready and organized and prepping my meals for the day. I'm more productive when I have that me time, otherwise I feel frenetic."
Her Getting Dressed Strategy
"I live in Miami, Florida, so it's hot and humid. I have always gravitated towards dresses, skirts, and just light, breezy types of clothing, sandals, sneakers. Nothing fussy, just super easy [to wear pieces], because it's so hot. I have been wearing much more color during the pandemic, and I don't know if it's to enhance my mood or if it's the summer weather. I love reds, deep oranges, and greens. I feel a boost in my mood when I wear a nice color. I noticed, too, when I'm on Zoom calls and I'm wearing more color, it's flattering."
Her Work-From-Home Uniform
"I've definitely incorporated more loungewear [into my work looks] during the pandemic. I will wear our lounge pants with a T-shirt or top. As much as I love pajamas, and I wear them when we're on audio calls that don't show my face, I like to break it up and feel like I am getting stuff done. My work outfits have changed a bit, but not too drastically.
I'm also a separates girl, so I like to mix and match. I have a couple of dresses and jumpsuit that I'm living in during quarantine, but I like rocking T-shirts mixed with lounge pants or wearing the sweatshirt part of the sweatsuit with skirts. I love layering, so I will wear a lightweight cotton jacket over a dress. That way I can create more looks with what I have and I don't get sick of things as much. [Some of my favorite brands] are Phillip Lim—the dresses are great for packing/traveling, so comfy and chic—Isabel Marant—I have a lot of her separates—and this dress brand called Rhode. They have easy cotton pieces in bright colors, and it's happy, joyful, and very comfortable.
The common thread I have with everything I wear is comfort and [that my clothes are] not complicated or fussy. I prefer flowy, breezy vacation vibes and not the super tight, body-con trend. My jewelry has to feel effortless and it has to go from one scenario to another. I love hoop [earrings], and for shoes, I like color, like red sandals or leopard print ballerina [flats]. I love my green sneakers. For whatever reason, I am gravitating towards something in the shoe that makes the outfit pop. For my bag, it's also colorful or textured."
The Words That Describe Her Power Outfit
"Comfortable, colorful, and simple."
"I constantly tell myself to just: Flow with it. 'Flow with it' encourages me to accept the 'what is' without resistance and helps me lighten up, let go, and enjoy more. It's a simple mantra, but quite a powerful one."
Get Mejia's WFH aesthetic: