Stacy Igel: "Dreaming is believing"
Creator of the Boy Meets Girl brand Stacy Igel believes in big dreams, hard work and the power of prayer. She's a living example and her brand is on its way to Finland.
The phone rings just as fashion designer Stacy Morgenstern is on her way to her studio.
Outside the sun is shining, the silhouette of Manhattan is etched against a blue sky like a heap of light sabres. Stacy's head is full of details and things she needs to remember to do with her collection about to be launched in a few days' time.
The caller is Stacy's boyfriend Brian. He tells her to turn on the television and stay indoors. It's September 11th 2001 and American Airlines flight AA11 has just crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Stacy is watching as the second plane hits the South Tower.
Stacy phones her friends and family. One after another they tell her they are safe. Across Manhattan, New York, the whole world is frozen with shock and disbelief.
"My life changed that day, like it did for many other New Yorkers," Stacy says.
"The launch of my own first clothing collection suddenly didn't seem to matter."
Things that don't go out of fashion
Stacy's surname is now Igel and her collection has grown into the international Boy Meets Girl brand. Its home is here in the heart of Manhattan in the "garment center", on the 17th floor of an office block. The walls are covered in press cuttings about Stacy's career and the growth of BMG. Stacy, 40, still works as the company's creative director.
The World Trade Center attack changed the BMG brand for ever.
"When I presented my collection after the World Trade Center attacks, I immediately knew what I had to do," Stacy says.
"It just happened that one of the details of the collection was the colours of the US flag and I wanted to donate part of the profits from the collection to the Red Cross who worked to help the victims of the attacks. At the same time, it firmly made up my mind about what I wanted the BMG brand to stand for."
BMG has battled against cancer, highlighted phenomena linked to school bullying and flown the flag for sexual and gender minorities during Pride events.
"Self-confidence and bravery never go out of fashion. It's all a question of connections with other people, working together and about stories."
"Self-confidence and bravery never go out of fashion."
Now BMG is known as a mouthpiece against social injustice. In the top boutiques of SoHo, a denim jacket bearing the brand's logo makes New Yorkers sigh: "What a cool brand."
Getting this far has taken determination and hard work from Stacy.
"I strongly felt that I am here to learn and to give something back. I want as many people as possible to be able to have a job that they love," says the mother of the Boy Meets Girl brand, fashion designer and entrepreneur Stacy Igel.
"New York inspires me every day. There's a rhythm to this city that never stops," Stacy Igel says.
Mom, Donna and other strong women
Stacy's own story starts in Chicago, where she grew up as the younger daughter of an orthopaedic surgeon doctor father and a physician assistant and entrepreneur mother in the wake of her big sister Kathy.
Over the years the house was filled with dogs, cats, hamsters and fish. Stacy sewed her first clothes for her dolls and her own in 6th grade. Later she organised fashion shows at home: dressing, styling and marching her friends acting as models on a catwalk built in her living room.
"My parents encouraged me to work and I earned my own money", Stacy says.
"I don't exactly know where my love of fashion came from, but I got my head for business from my mother. She developed a lumbar support "the back machine" that was sold in stores and online. First she packed up products at home but soon the business grew too big for the basement. After 25 years, mom sold the company."
Perhaps her love of fashion came from her mother too. At least mom loved vintage and Donna Karan's clothes and at university Stacy decided to do a placement with Donna Karan. The New York fashion world was more than 1,500 kilometres and a whole world away from Madison and the University of Wisconsin, but Stacy didn't let that stop her. She started to get to know students in New York and by the next summer she was helping Donna Karan in her exhibition space in New York.
"I learned how a collection is tested with buyers."
The next summer, Stacy was touring all the fashion shows imaginable with TV channel CNN's legendary fashion reporter Elsa Klensch and listening to how she interviewed world-famous fashion designers.
"Elsa is a powerful woman who inspired me hugely. I learned to talk using professional terms and I saw in practice the importance media visibility has for a brand."
Stacy wanted to learn every aspect of the fashion business before she decided what she wanted to concentrate on. Therefore she spent the last phase of her course in London, working for Zandra Rhodes, fashion designer to super celebrities of the likes of Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury.
"At that time Zandra's staff was much smaller than in the past. I saw the difficulties that go with the fashion business and the kind of getting your hands dirty atmosphere that lies behind the glamour."
Your dreams come true if you believe in them
After graduation, Stacy moved to New York, of course. New York is a tougher place than anywhere else. If you can make it in New York, you can make it elsewhere too. New York also demands harder work than most people are capable of.
"But New York also fosters creativity in a completely special way. It's wonderful to dive into the depths of the subway after a long working day, hear the music and see the dancers."
In New York Stacy met Brian, who worked in Marketing and at the age of 22, was a true Renaissance man in Stacy's eyes.
"Brian was an intelligent, competent and polite, different from everyone else. I was usually the one who took care of everything on a date but Brian wasn't having any of it. He collected me from my home and had thought of everything. We had a fabulous date and the rest is history", Stacy says.
Stacy and Brian's relationship progressed the way New York relationship usually do: first you have a career, then you get a house and start saving. Housing is expensive if you care about your address. Brian qualified as a lawyer and started a law firm. Stacy concentrated on growing BMG.
"If I was going to do anything different, I would have had children earlier", Stacy says.
"I knew I wanted to be a mother one day but the years just flew by and I was building a business. One day I realised that it might not be that easy to just have a baby. We started on tough infertility treatment."
"One day I realised that it might not be that easy to just have a baby."
The BMG office has a wall of wishes made from thin corrugated recycled cardboard. Anyone can write a wish on a piece of paper, roll it up small and stick it into a small hole.
The wishes are never read but Stacy thinks everyone who has left one will see it come true – as long as they believe enough.
There are lots of Stacy's wishes in the wall, including the biggest one of all:
"Dylan was born almost three years ago. It was an answer to my prayers."
Stacy's son Dylan naturally has his own Instagram account @dylanreidigel, run by his mother. Here you can follow the life of the little guy and his gorgeous outfits.
"Motherhood has made me a much better organiser and a boss," says Stacy Igel. The challenges of combining work and family life are familiar to her. Fortunately there is also enough room in her life for free time in Central Park.
When a butterfly lands on your hand
Stacy is not working into the wee hours of the night as much as she used to but she is still a full-time working mompreneur who on top of all her duties manages to keep up with her blog Behind the Seams with Stacy Igel too. Dylan is at school in the mornings and has a nanny in the afternoons, but in the evenings the family play board games, read books and sing. For Stacy it's the complete counterbalance to the hectic pace of work.
"Motherhood has made my days more significant. It crystallised the meaning of life," Stacy said.
"BMG is still a top priority but there are other things in my life too. Dylan and Brian are the best things that have happened to me and I love being close to my family and friends. I hope I will be remembered as a good friend, mother, wife and daughter after my death."
When Dylan was one, Stacy was with Brian in Paris launching BMG at the cult store colette when terrorists attacked the city. The November attack was a horrific time in Paris but for some reason Stacy was not afraid.
"We must not give in to terrorists. The next morning after the attack the barista at the café on the corner of the street drew a heart in my coffee and said life goes on. We have to keep together and believe in a better future."
Stacy trusts that life doesn't end with death. Jews do not normally believe in reincarnation but Stacy does. She has proof.
"Every year at the end of June or the start of July a butterfly lands on the hand of every member of our family. This has happened for decades since my grandmother died," Stacy says.
"And on our second date Brian took me to a butterfly exhibition without knowing anything about what butterflies meant to me. Our journey is being guided by a greater power, if we just allow it to be."
Boy Meets Girl (BMG)
- Boy Meets Girl is a young women's clothing brand whose range will be sold in the S Group's Prisma chain from 16 August.
- In the US BMG is sold in Nordstrom, and will be launching this back to school into 28 Macy's department stores. In France it is sold by Colette.
- Follow the discussion on the Boy Meets Girl brand on social media: Instagram & twitter @boymeetsgirlusa and on Facebook @BoyMeetsGirlClothing
- The brand's logo was designed by Stacy and her husband together.
- Internet www.boymeetsgirlusa.com
Photos Elvi Rista
Style / Make-up & hair Ida Jokikunnas / Caravan Stylist Studio