Behind Her Empire: Fashion Icon Jenna Lyons Opens Up About Her J.Crew Exit

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Jenna Lyons talks about struggling to find her passion to becoming a fashion icon and co-founder of the beauty brand, LoveSeen.


Lyons started her career as intern at Donna Karan then went on to join the design team at J.Crew. After nearly 30 years, she decided to build her own empire. The idea of being in the fashion industry was something that came to her when she learned how to sew.

"Everybody knew, you know, 'I'm going to be a nurse, I'm going to be a teacher, I'm gonna be a doctor.' And I didn't know and I was so grateful to find this passion for making clothes," said Lyons.

As a young teen, Lyons had a genetic disorder that made her teeth yellow and created bald spots on her head and scars all over her body. She was already about six feet tall and was teased by bullies. She said nothing fit her right as she tried on all kinds of sizes. It wasn't until she took a sewing class and made her own clothes that she noticed a difference.

"I was really shocked when I started to make clothes. The whole conversation around my image or what I was wearing, or how I looked, shifted dramatically. And the power of something like that is so overwhelming. It was the first time I had positive feedback on something that I had not only worn, but I actually made it myself," said Lyons.

The passion to make clothes changed Lyons life as she went off to Parsons School of Design at the New School in New York. However, the school's expensive tuition became too much and Lyon returned home for the summer to be a waitress. Just before she did, however, she found a job posting for J.Crew as an assistant designer in men's knits.

She put her her resume out there and got an interview with the head of human resources. She finally heard back at the end of the summer with a job offer. Lyons took the job without even asking the salary. Twenty-seven years later, Lyons moved from her role as president of J Crew to begin her own company focused on reinventing fake lashes. She was inspired by the very condition that she had that impacted her lash growth. Lyons even got her own HBO Max series.

"I never in a million years, never in a million years, would have thought that I would have gotten to a place in my career where people actually want to take a picture of me or my outfit," said Lyons.

In the rest of the episode, Lyons gets in-depth with her childhood, why she left J.Crew. and how she reinvented herself.

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Here’s the Latest on Fifth Wall’s Early-Stage Climate Tech Fund

Harrison Weber

Harrison is dot.LA's senior finance reporter. They previously worked for Gizmodo, Fast Company, VentureBeat and Flipboard. Find them on Twitter: @harrisonweber. Send non-sensitive tips on L.A. deals to harrison@dot.la. Pronouns: they/them.

Do you know something we should know about L.A. tech or venture capital? Reach out securely by downloading Signal on a non-work device: +1 917 434 4978.

Fifth Wall, the fast-growing real estate tech venture firm, revealed this week that it has scored at least $116.8 million for its Early-Stage Climate Technology Fund, according to an amended SEC filing. That figure is up from $79.5 million in May 2021, when the firm last disclosed its fundraising efforts for the climate investment vehicle.

In December, Fifth Wall announced it had brought in prolific clean-tech investor Greg Smithies to head its efforts to "decarbonize the built world." That's when the firm went public about its plan to raise at least $200 million to invest in climate tech.

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HP Is Piloting an Autonomous, Electric-Powered Trucking Service from LA

David Shultz
David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many defects in our society, but chief among them may be the fragility of our supply chains. From toilet paper to bicycles to lumber, the virus has shown that even relatively minor disruptions to the chain can cause long-term shortages of important goods.

In Los Angeles, a San Francisco-based autonomous trucking company is carrying out a new pilot program with computer hardware giant HP Inc. In the next couple of years, the startup wants to reduce emissions and transit times in HP's supply chains. And if it's successful, expand the model to other companies.

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Tradesy Is Leading Shoppers Away from Fast Fashion, and Investors Are Buying Into It

Sarah Favot

Favot is an award-winning journalist and adjunct instructor at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She previously was an investigative and data reporter at national education news site The 74 and local news site LA School Report. She's also worked at the Los Angeles Daily News. She was a Livingston Award finalist in 2011 and holds a Master's degree in journalism from Boston University and BA from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

Tracy DiNunzio wants to kill fast fashion.

Founder and CEO of Santa Monica-based Tradesy, DiNunzio said over the last decade consumers are recognizing the harmful effects of low-priced, rapidly-produced fast fashion on the global climate. She argues that in addition to being environmentally conscious, buying and reselling high-end fashion items can also be affordable.

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