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“Encourage other women to pursue their dreams” with Gina Kuyers and Chaya Weiner

Encourage other women to pursue their dreams. Don’t be afraid to seek the second, creative career. Strength doesn’t build when life is easy. You will get knocked down. Get up and keep going. Laugh along the way.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gina Kuyers. Gina was born and raised in greater Grand Rapids, Michigan. She met her husband, David Adams, while both were graduate students in NYC. After they married in 1993, lived in Atlanta, Houston, Scotsdale, and Grand Rapids before moving back to the NYC area in 2017 so Gina could be closer to her manufacturer and the NYC fashion hub. David and Gina have 4 children (ages 21, 19, 18 and 16). Gina worked as a school psychologist for many years in Atlanta, Houston and Grand Rapids before founding Luxeire.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have long been fascinated by beautiful fashions and have become a collector of vintage and designer clothing. For years I found that I spent more time looking at my favorite clothes than actually wearing them because the fabrics were uncomfortable, designs made me feel over-exposed, or garments required a specific layering or paring piece to make the outfit complete. Wear and tear and cost of cleaning were also a concern. I searched the world in vain for the perfect second-skin layering pieces that would look fabulous and feel even better. Available products were unflattering, hot, constricting and bulky. As a PhD-trained school psychologist, I finally decided it was time to apply my research and problem-solving skills to the fashion industry and create the perfect layering pieces myself.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I don’t have a specific story per se, but many interesting experiences. Some standouts were my experiences auditioning for Shank Tank on two separate occasions, one in Detroit and the other in Brooklyn. As Luxeire is a women-owned and founded business, I was invited to the minority-owned business auditions. The first time, I had no idea what I was getting into; but found it so exciting to see people from all walks of life come together to share their creative visions for business. The conversations that surrounded me were fascinating. I learned that “the pitch” is an art that takes time to hone; and that repeated auditions often lead to rising to another level in the competition. Many participants were returning for the second, third, or even fourth time to get their chance in the tank.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This is more embarrassing than funny. Luxeire is launching a new capsule of layering/ready-to-wear products made with a luxury technical fabric from recycled fibers. Detailed manufacturing instructions were included for the first small run, including the need for the new sewn-in tags with recycled fabric content details. When I picked up the completed garments they had the old, signature sewn-in tags which were inaccurate. I talked to the factory owner and made clear the next order needed to be accurate. The next order produced the same sewn-in tag error. So, I went back in my graphic files to get the tag images to make crystal clear which tags needed to be sewn into this new line. What I found was that I had never made the sewn-in tags for the new fabric! Oops.Tail between my legs, extra work, delays, more money. Fortunately, I have a very good relationship with my production partner!

What I learned is to keep better records of production and inventory. This is an ongoing struggle when you are a lean team.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Luxeire offers a new kind of wardrobe staple for women that is cross categorical (intimate apparel, ready-to-wear, performance/recreation wear), non-seasonal, and is relevant to the needs of women across the age spans. Our products are made from exquisite, luxury fabrics that include the technical properties women today want. Luxeire is also joining the ranks of women-owned companies in the fashion industry, and we manufacture with a woman-owned factory in NYC.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are preparing to launch the “Renew” capsule of layering and ready-to-wear pieces — button-downs, bodysuits and crew-necks. The Renew fabric is another luxury technical fabric from our mill in Italy, but it is a slightly heavier weight with a silky texture and is made with 83% recycled fibers.

These garments are focused on meeting the diverse wardrobe needs of women from work, leisure to special occasions, while limiting the negative impact that creating new products has on our earth.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Stay focused on the key, urgent steps that will move the business forward. It is easy to get distracted. Support and empower each other, and keep yourselves accountable.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

I’ll let you know when I get there.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are many people who have helped move me along in this journey — professional contacts, family and friends. However, my husband is the true rock under it all. He has provided me the freedom and financial support to pursue this dream. He was also a reader for my doctoral dissertation 20 years ago! He is a good man.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Encourage other women to pursue their dreams. Don’t be afraid to seek the second, creative career. Strength doesn’t build when life is easy. You will get knocked down. Get up and keep going. Laugh along the way.

Looking great and feeling comfortable shouldn’t need to be exclusive from each other. I want women to enjoy the feel and look of their bodies in their favorite clothes. Each day should offer the opportunity to go out into the world with comfort, style and confidence.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Making a manufactured goods business profitable is harder than you think. It costs a lot of money to make quality products. It costs even more money to get your story out to the world. The competition for people’s attention and resources is steep.

2. Be thoughtful on how resources are spent with ROI in focus. You will get lots of advice, much of it contradictory. Weigh it all, but stay focused on what will bring the best return.

3. Splurge to get the right people in place early. Time and money can be wasted when too many corners are cut.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Don’t be afraid to dream big and then pursue that dream. Every day we make decisions and act in ways that can bring us forward or pull us back — in relationships, career, health. Be intentional, use discipline, and enjoy the journey.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The often-referenced verse from the Bible (Luke 12:48) resonates with me as it does with many:

“Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required;”

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

I would want to have lunch with Nancy Pelosi. She amazes me in what she has accomplished, her strength, style, and the ability to have embraced family as a mother of 5 and a spouse.

Thank you for these great insights!



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Authority Magazine

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