- Alumnae Spotlight
J.J. Martin '91: La DoubleJ
"Don't do it for money or for fame. Do it because you love it."
Photographed for Vogue Mexico by Alberto Zanetti
Fifteen years as a fashion and design journalist in Milan prepared J.J. Martin ’91 well for the launch of her company La DoubleJ. A “multi-tasking Milanese brand”, La DoubleJ makes clothes from vintage clothing patterns found in a silk archive in Lake Como, sells vintage clothing and jewelry, photographs and creates stories about Milan’s creative women in their homes and ateliers, creates digital content for fashion brands, and runs an online shoppable magazine— ladoublej.com -- where all of the above are featured. Last month, Martin also launched La DoubleJ Housewives, a collection of porcelain plates and table linens that also feature vintage prints which they’ve re-worked into new graphic designs. Multi-tasking, indeed.
When Martin combined her passion for fashion (she had her own personal archive of vintage clothing and a network of dealers that she had been amassing for 20 years) and professional experience (she was no stranger to editorial strategy and photo shoot production) with her husband’s e-commerce company The Level Group, La DoubleJ was born. They launched with two full-time employees and now have a team of nine, plus a freelance creative team.
Even with this winning combination and great press attention right from the start, Martin quickly realized that they would need to pivot. “Selling vintage online is extremely challenging,” says Martin. “Once you overcome the difficulty in finding a great piece with no holes or stains and that fits properly, you have the problem that there is only one single garment. So scaling the business became very difficult.”
Martin was able to heed her own advice in this realm. “If something you really believe in isn’t working, stop banging your head on that closed door. Find a different door that opens and walk through it.” In this case, the “open door” was making new clothes with vintage patterns. “This arm of the business— which was never the original intention of our business plan— has become our most important activity and is the core of our revenues now.”
Of all the lessons she has learned thus far, Martin’s most important piece of advice for young entrepreneurs is to go for it. “So many people are blocked by fear of failing. You just have to dive in and be prepared that you might not do what you think you will do.” Her caveat? “Don’t do it for money or for fame. Do it because you love it.”