I moved to New York City in 2005. Max
was my first friend. She taught me the
ropes: You always buy your own drink.
Don’t let a guy buy your drink.
It’s now a much more dynamic friendship.
You wouldn’t want me designing the jeans. That’s all Jac.
We met at Madewell. The thing we started at AYR was,
who is the customer? What does she eat for breakfast?
(To quote Ms. Dolly Parton: A cup of ambition.)
Where does she buy her groceries?
What does she read at the airport?
We came to AYR with complementary skill sets,
but we occupy very different perspectives.
And I said, “We’re describing my friend Max.”
So I took Max out for pizza and asked, “If you
were launching a brand and you wanted people
to know about it, how would you get the word
out?” We quickly realized it was more than a
lunchtime conversation. I still work for pizza, by the way.
We launched in 2014, as a brand under Bonobos, and spent two years
learning infrastructure, the backing that a new brand needs.
Late in 2015, Bonobos decided to stop funding AYR to concentrate on its core brand. We
had 90 days to incorporate, finance our orders, separate assets, and build a new website
without missing a day of business in our fourth quarter—our busiest.
Our biggest challenge to date.
We’ve all taken salary cuts. Last year, I gave up my apartment
and moved in with my grandmother. She’s a big part of my life.
But living on Granny’s couch at 36 is not so glamorous.
I was terrified. But then being able to have your arms around
your company and watch it grow …
Of course, disagreements come up all the time—
down to a quarter of an inch sometimes, in fittings.
We care. It’s personal.
Conversations can be tough. We don’t always agree.
… on our own terms. We haven’t taken much outside capital.
AYR’s CEO. She cut
her teeth at J.Crew
Partners How the women who started women’s wear company AYR—it stands for All Year Round and sounds like what you breathe— manage the three-way dance that keeps it going. —SHEILA MARIKAR