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.

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

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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March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups
March Capital founder Jamie Montgomery. Illustration by Dilara Mundy.

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Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

The Three Best Ways to Work With Your Startup Board

When launching and running a startup, your board of directors is one of your most valuable assets. If you already understand why you need a board and how to structure your board, it may be tempting to think you can cross that item off the list. But building a board is just the beginning. Now you’ve got to get down to business—together.

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

This Week in ‘Raises’: Saviynt Lands $205M, Pagos Secures $34M
This Week in ‘Raises’:

While it was a slow week of funding in Los Angeles, security vendor Saviynt managed to score $205 million that will be used to meet the company’s growing demand for its converged identity platform and accelerate innovation.

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