Sweet Chats: Jenni Lee

Sweet Chats: Jenni Lee

2020 Jun 23rd

Sweet chats meet sweet socks. This week, we chatted with Jenni Lee, CEO + Founder of Comme Si, the luxury lifestyle sock brand who's changing the game from the feet up.

What does a typical day in the life look like for you?

Like everyone else, this answer has changed considerably over the last couple months as we adjust to working-from-home. My morning always starts with a trip to my Nespresso machine - I’m a night owl not an early bird, so I need the smell of coffee to start the wake up process.

I start work by checking in on our production, and supply chain efforts since they are in Europe. We have a lot of new products that we are excited to share starting this fall so I am spending a lot of time designing and thinking through how we can continue to translate our brand POV into other items for our growing community. Then I am typically on calls and emails with our social and design team members making sure our daily campaigns and strategic initiatives are tracking.

I try to take a break in the afternoon and workout (via Youtube videos) and then again around 5PM to cook dinner with my husband and catch up on the day - unwind. After a little TV (currently binge watching The Americans) I will get back on email before tucking in to bed.

Why did you start using CBD? 

I’m a relative CBD newbie but have enjoyed it as an alternative to unwind at certain points throughout the day.

Social Stigma or Socially Acceptable? 

Socially Acceptable.

Tip for starting a business?

Trust your instincts. Entrepreneurship is a tremendously rewarding but also emotionally draining endeavour. Always come back to the conviction you had when you first started your company.

In your @Vogue article, you mention how your childhood as a Korean-American in AZ informed your vision for Comme Si, tell us more about this and how this shaped your decision to go into sockwear.

The brand is inspired by different aspects of my own upbringing and heritage. As I was developing Comme Si, I reflected on what informs and inspires my creativity. I wanted the brand to reflect my values, experiences, and perspective. My childhood was the dichotomy between a strong Korean culture at home and a suburban white environment out in the world, all set against the backdrop of the Arizona desert. The things that seemed to cause friction in my youth are now the things that stimulate my drive and my creativity.

Now, how I got into socks - I grew up in the era of frilly socks with jelly sandals, chunky white socks with Air Maxes, and I started collecting socks in high school. I played in the orchestra and on the tennis team, and found that socks were a way to add a little flair to my extracurricular uniforms, a way to signal my personality and creativity.

This translated to me collecting cool and interesting socks over the years which I would acquire on overseas trips. People would often ask me where I got my socks and there was never a uniform answer because they were mostly one-off purchases abroad. I realized there was low brand association in the category even though legwear can play such an important role in the overall composition of one’s outfit. It’s the last thing we put on every day, but it shouldn’t be an afterthought. As a woman who cares about every other aspect of my appearance, I wanted socks to reflect what I look for in other fine accessories - designed well and made well.

I knew there were other women who felt the same way - stylists who use socks as a “secret weapon” when styling fashion shows or editorials because they understand the versatility of a declarative sock. I have spoken to lots of women who get it; socks are an expression of personal style and often an extension of your shoe game.

And there’s an interesting opportunity to build a luxury lifestyle brand, quite literally, from the feet up.

Why the name Comme Si?

I geeked out on the process of naming my brand. I knew I wanted it to be a phrase, not a single syllable word or a person's name. “Comme si” is a commonly used conjunction in French that can translate to “as though” or “like this”; conjunctions are like the glue that holds sentences together, and socks are like the glue that pulls an outfit together

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned through the process of bringing Comme Si to life? Trusting my instincts.

Favorite moment or memory since starting Comme Si?

There are so many highs (& lows) when you start your own business! Most recently, I have been inspired by our community’s support of the social initiatives we have been dedicating proceeds towards - front line workers at our hospitals fighting COVID-19, the NAACP addressing racial inequality. Comme Si is a brand that takes a stand on these issues and we are lucky to have the support of our community.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the fashion industry and what trends and changes do you see happening in the near future?

The pandemic has triggered the need for drastic change. Part of this will be led by consumers' change in behavior and part of it will (and must) come from brands, as we collectively tackle the larger issues of supply chain deficiencies, aggressive fashion calendars, and unsustainable practices. There will be a learning curve for the entire industry as I believe we can all assess ways to make a bigger impact going forward.

I believe the brands that adapt and lead this change will benefit as conscious consumerism continues to gain traction. We are going to look at everything we buy with increased scrutiny; it's not just about saying you support sustainability, diversity, corporate responsibility, but having authenticity and action around these values.

I launched Comme Si with the mission of creating a new business model for luxury - one that provides a different POV, one that champions women and BIPOC in all aspects of the business whether it’s operations or creative, while holding craftsmanship, creativity, sustainable practices, and beautifully designed products as table stakes. We're a young brand, so It's been exciting and encouraging to have an incredible growing community of partners and customers who support our mission.

What does unwinding look like for you?

Generally all unwinding for me starts around the kitchen and a good meal. We have always been enthusiastic home cooks but my husband and I now rely on cooking dinner as that time in the day when we both stop what we're doing and focus on unwinding. We like to enjoy an aperitivo while we prep and cook, talking about our day and just checking in with each other.

Mindful Tip? Take five deeeep breaths when you need to clear your mind

CBD expert or CBD newbie? CBD Newbie

What does success mean to you? Living a life that is creatively fulfilling

Brand you love: Häagen-Dazs

Currently inspired by: Zoomers and Kpop stans, I love how they’re organizing across social channels to instigate change.

Life hack of all life hacks: Write in your Notes app on your phone whenever you have an interesting idea, because they often come when you’re not expecting it.

Pick one color of socks to wear for the rest of your life: Classic white

Most played song right now: Swamp Dogg - Lonely

WFH tip? Take little breaks from your computer screen - walk around, make lunch, stretch, workout.

Favorite current read: Book - Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong. I also recently downloaded Twitter after 7 years of deleting it, at my friend’s behest that it was necessary for more accurate and real-time news on the protests and incidents happening around the country, and have fallen into an internet hole of news and entertainment (Twitter trolls are next-level hilarious).

Brand you can’t live without: Nespresso

If you could grab lunch with one person, who would it be? I would have lunch with Charlotte Perriand, but then I’d call Miuccia Prada and Zoe Kravitz asking them to join us last minute.

Favorite Sweet Reason flavor: Lemon Rhubarb

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