Femmebot: Where Fierce Fashion and Powerful Women Collide
Nestled in the heart of downtown Montclair, lies a store covered head to toe in brilliant chandeliers, chic fashion and photographs of powerful women like Rosie the Riveter and, of course, Wonder Woman. One step into the shop and it’s sensory overload — in the best way. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” blasts from the speakers as rich autumnal olive and burgundy colored clothing decorates the walls, drawing your eye from every direction. It’s fun. It’s incredibly inviting. It’s Femmebot.
Founded by Tina Setia, Femmebot is one of the latest boutiques to take residence on Montclair’s bustling Bloomfield avenue. Opened this past February, this is the company’s second location in the Northern New Jersey area, with its flagship store located in Ridgewood. And while Femmebot and its success as a company might be new to some, it’s a long time coming for a woman whose life has revolved around fashion from an early age.
At 12-years-old, with a little help from the Queen of Pop, Tina Setia discovered her calling. Her mother was taking her to see Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” tour, and like any budding fashionista, she knew she had to dress the part.
“I looked at a picture of Madonna and created her exact outfit,” said Setia. “I made the lace skirt — I cut it up — I made the lace gloves, I had the giant bow in my hair — everything to a T.” Her outfit was so accurate, it even warranted a visit from MTV and an entrance in their lookalike contest. “It was one of those moments that I knew I wanted to dress up forever.”
Setia, a Paramus native, has been working in fashion since she began her first retail job at the Garden State Plaza mall at the age of 15. She quickly climbed up the industry ladder when, while attending Pace University in New York City, she began working for Patricia Field, best known for her tenure as the costume designer on Sex in the City.
Field, alongside other powerful women like Gwen Stefani and Angelina Jolie, is someone she cites as a big influence and an inspiration in developing Femmebot.
“These really big, powerful women and influences are, in the end, where Femmebot came from,” she said.
Setia eventually made her way up to Field’s showroom where she ran Field’s “House of Field” collection and worked with celebrities like Britney Spears and Lil’ Kim on tour apparel.
“It was an amazing career from then on,” Setia said. “And it all started off working in a mall.”
After leaving Patricia Field, Setia became a buyer at two upscale Soho shops, Work in Progress and Lounge Soho. It was at the latter that Setia found her niche.
“That’s where I learned the art of buying,” Setia said. “To me, every season was like a painting — it was an empty canvas that I would paint with clothing. I really felt like I was in my element; being able to see new collections and discover new talent was a big passion of mine. I found myself saying, ‘I would really love to do this for myself one day.’”
So, she did. In 2011, she came up with the idea for Femmebot and opened her first location. She had many ideas swirling around when it came to what she wanted her store to be, but she was sure about two things from the get-go — she wanted it to be accessible and affordable.
“Something for everyone, that’s what’s really important to me. Everybody can look cool, everybody can feel cool and everybody can afford to feel that way too,” said Setia. “No one should feel alienated at Femmebot — I have customers who are 80, I have customers who are 15 — everybody can find something here.”
But what exactly is a Femmebot?
“A Femmebot is an unhindered, powerful woman. If you break down the name, femmé means woman in French and bot is for robot, so half-woman, half-robot,” said Setia. “It’s about a very powerful being that can’t be broken down and that’s what women are. Femmebots don’t have to conform to anything because they are who they are.”
Setia’s championing of women is not only evident in the overall concept of the store, it permeates through to her staff as well.
“The best part of being in the Femmebot family is having a place where I finally feel like I belong,” said Nicole Pigott, Femmebot’s Social Media Coordinator. “I always grew up looking different than everyone else, but that’s okay! And Femmebot’s motto, ‘Wear Confidence,’ promotes just that. Anyone, no matter who they are or what they look like, can wear what makes them feel good. That’s what makes them confident and beautiful.”
So what’s next for Tina Setia and Femmebot?
“My ultimate dream is to build a Femme-pire, and that can really mean anything. Growth — that’s what I want for everyone who works with me and what I ultimately want for the company.”