“Look, I got three kids, I’m married, I run a business, and I’m time-challenged,” Reynolds said with a laugh as we chatted one recent morning on a conference call with Reynolds’ Evryday Jane cofounder, Aaron Gray.
The modern six-piece collection debuted May 9 during a 12-minute segment on HSN’s The List with Colleen Lopez. In the week since the launch, Evryday Jane has crushed its sales goals and is sold out in several sizes, which range from XS to 3X and sell for around $90 apiece.
“I looked up and realized that I needed pieces that looked good from the airplane to the car,” said Reynolds, who was the face of tennis champ Serena Williams’ line on HSN for four years. Reynolds still works with Williams, but Williams’ womenswear line is no longer sold on HSN. “I’m the type of person that when I show up in a room, I’m going to show up in a room," Reynolds said.
She’s not lying.
Reynolds was one of the first women I met in the media space in my early days as a Philadelphian. Skai Blue Media was a fledgling firm, and Reynolds was making a name for herself in the city’s fashion scene. Back then, Reynolds kept heads turning with pastel-streaked Afros and all manner of chunky shoes, fitted jackets, and full skirts. She was a fashion unicorn.
Two years ago she found herself sandwiched between a dude with less-than-fresh breath and another with a really bad cough in the unfortunate middle seat of an airplane.
“I took a shawl that I had in my purse and I wrapped it around my face and I put orange peels in it creating my own little filter,” Reynolds said. “I showed up to my meeting disheveled from the experience. But then I thought, ‘What if I could create something that was fashionable and also protected me from germs while I was traveling?’ ”
Reynolds consulted with her friend and technical designer Gray, who was based in New York had worked closely with Williams as well as NeNe Leakes and Nicole Richie, bringing their design dreams to fruition. It wasn’t long before Evryday Jane’s Gail Travel Pod was born. The piece is part duster, part cloak with a foldable collar that holds a carbon filter, what a germophobe’s fashion dreams are made of.
“It keeps out germs, pollen, and dust,” Reynolds said.
That was but one fashion dilemma Gray set out to solve. Like many of us, Reynolds, who is now a 40-year-old proud mother of three, has had to come to terms with her over-35-year-old bod. Pants, she says, need to be a tad bit roomier, like they are in the collection’s pin-striped, drop-crotch culotte, the Nia — named for one of Reynolds’ sisters. Armholes are a tiny bit wider, like they are in the crisp Zoie shirtdress — named for one of Reynolds’ daughters. And camouflage can be a good thing, especially a ties-at-the-waist shirtdress Reynolds named the Tai, after fashion and beauty editor and friend Tai Beauchamp.
The collection is heavy on wearability, but there are still lots of cool touches, as evidenced in the Elaine blouse, a starched oxford with asymmetrical button treatment, named after Elaine Welteroth, an author, inspirational speaker, and women’s-workplace advocate and another of Reynolds’ high-powered friends. [Welteroth will appear at Philadelphia Free Library’s Parkway Central branch on June 25 to read from her new book for More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say).]
“I design every collection from a place of comfort, function, and care," Gray said, pointing to the Tori trench, a trench coat that when folded into a package can be easily tossed into a bag or used as a pillow on a long plane ride. “It’s not just packable, it’s double-breasted with full, metal snap closures and a two-way zipper.”
In addition to collaborating with Gray and HSN, Reynolds turned to branding expert and mentor Payne Brown, president of Think450, a for-profit company through which the 450 active NBA players prepare for a life beyond the court. After Reynolds realized her collection’s original name, Plane Jane, was taken, the two brainstormed for hours. The moniker, Evryday Jane was born.
“Evryday Jane is a testament to our collaborations and a nod to the triumphs of the everyday woman who wants to be comfortable and stylish and thought of,” Reynolds said.