Meet Jennifer Bandier - President of BANDIER
If you've been following the rise of activewear throughout the years, you've noticed the emergence of luxury brands and recently online shops that have catapulted the industry from niche to mainstream. One of the most influential retailers is BANDIER - A NYC based brand who's making waves and forcing everyone to pay attention.
Jennifer is sharing her BEHIND the BRAND story of how a want to look chic and fabulous in activewear has turned into the lifestyle brand and how she's created it all with no retail experience!
Name & Role
President of BANDIER
What is BANDIER and how did you get started?
BANDIER is a luxury destination celebrating the intersection of FASHION FITNESS and MUSIC. Curating over 50 new and established brands from around the world in its five U.S. boutiques and global e-commerce store, BANDIER has quickly established itself as the go-to shop for fashion-forward activewear. With a rapidly growing digital presence, innovative in-store events, exclusive music partnerships and burgeoning cult following amongst fashion “it girls,” social media mavens, and celebrities, BANDIER is a key cultural destination for the actively mobile generation.
What's a typical day in the life like for you?
I try to start every day with a mediation, followed by a run in Central Park with my dogs. A consistent morning routine clears my mind and keeps me grounded throughout the day. I spend a lot of time in the office, but I love being at our stores, interacting with customers and hearing feedback. I travel often and try to spend time at our store locations outside of Manhattan. Each night, before I go to sleep, I make a gratitude list list of what I’m thankful for.
Why start with a brick & mortar store when most active wear shops are online only?
I opened the first BANDIER store because of a personal need. I was researching amazing new activewear brands online, but they mostly sold via their own website. I saw an opportunity to create an immersive environment for consumers to discover new brands through the BANDIER point of view. We now have five stores in the United States as well as an e-commerce shop that ships internationally. We focus on making the stores fun with great playlists, knowledgeable staff and events. Our retail stores are a major differentiator for the brand. The BANDIER flagship store in NYC is three levels with a 3,000 square foot fitness studio and mezzanine community area. We plan on rolling out this flagship store model in key cities across the U.S.
BANDIER has several locations including its flagship location that has a fitness studio with some of the hottest classes in town. What was the thought process behind including a fitness studio and mezzanine space in the store?
Community is such an important part of our brand. When we opened our first store in NYC, we hosted pop-up fitness classes by moving clothing racks and making space in the center of the store. This created amazing energy within our space and we knew that, when we moved into our larger store space on 5th Avenue, we would build a dedicated area for fitness -- this became STUDIO B. So many of our favorite instructors didn’t have their own studios, so we thought we could provide the space and the partnership. Today, STUDIO B serves up a bespoke and expertly curated selection of classes from the industry's top movers and shakers, combining the very best in yoga, cardio, and high-intensity training.
What's been your biggest successes thus far?
Our flagship store has been our biggest success. It’s not only a retail store, but it’s a community hub and has changed BANDIER from an activewear store to a lifestyle brand.
Biggest obstacle when first starting BANDIER?
The biggest obstacle when starting BANDIER was that I had no prior retail experience. Many people discouraged me from starting BANDIER, saying that if a multi-brand activewear concept didn’t already exist, then there was a reason for that. I never doubted my idea and I decided to surround myself with a team of retail experts, fashion veterans and fitness enthusiasts. This allowed us to build an invaluable community of BANDIER girls that have been loyal customers since launch and have helped us spread the word about our brand.
Top three tools/apps/tech you can't live without
1.) My iPhone (taking calls on the go)
2.) Moon Juice Active Dust
3.) Mindfresh (meditation app)
2016 has been a big year for BANDIER, so what's next? What can we expect from BANDIER in the near future?
We are opening a store in Los Angeles, launching our BANDIER private collection and working on more great designer partnerships and collaborations!
Extra credit: What's the best advice you've been given?
My mother, Denise LeFrak, always told me to trust my intuition.
Love that Jennifer went a step beyond creating a flagship store and created a lifestyle brand...So smart!
What's your biggest takeaway from Jennifer's interview? Share in the comments below!