In the serendipitous way living in NYC has of spontaneously connecting you to the best people, I met a wonderful woman while looking for food in Brooklyn’s Industry City. BTW, I highly recommend the Avocaderia!
Of course, I noticed her gorgeous white French Bulldog first. But was quickly sucked into one of those conversations in which you’re thinking the whole time, “I just found another tribe member.” Her name is Janelle Funari and she’s a fashion designer with amazing energy and the desire to help women in any way she can. Turns out she’s no joke. She’s designed yoga apparel for Champion and Eberjey (one of Mel’s favorite intimate apparel companies). She decided to combine the know-how of designing swim wear, lingerie and couture wedding gowns to create Funari Performance. Janelle’s hard work and persistence have created the path to success she continues to fly down. Her vision is to create fashionable fitness apparel that’s functional, can sustain the most intense workout and is elegant enough to be worn to work or to dinner paired with heels.
I wanted our readers to get to know her more.
Janelle, many of your designs are inspired by your Grandmother, a glamorous Rockette of the 1940’s! What was her influence over you and your work?
- My grandmother was a positive and eccentric strong woman full of life! She gave me confidence and made me believe in myself. She taught me to fight for my design beliefs and vision. Her dying wish for me was to do what she should have done in NYC, but she left her dancing career during WWII after she met the love of her life . Her style and attitude was a big influence on me to create a clothing line reminiscent of pieces she wore in her time. But I also wanted a look that embodied the future and technological advancements to create a unique line inspired from New York City. An attitude I see as edgy yet elegant.
When looking at your site I read that fashion for you is a platform for art, but also for women to feel powerful. How do you want the women who wear your clothes to feel? What should they know?
- I want all women who wear my clothing to feel empowered, strong and confident! When you wear a piece from my collection, I want you to feel elegant and ready to command attention from all who see you! The brand should inspire woman to work out again and feel fashionable, confident and sexy while doing it! I want women who may just have had children or have focused time on their job and not their body to feel good about themselves working out. It’s all about jump starting a positive fitness routine.
Tell us about your Reflect collection.
- The reflect collection was developed to create clothing to “protect” runners morning or night from cars and also from others who can create harm. The technology of the fabrics not only allows it to glow upon the reflection of light, but also have a waterproof finish to protect from rain.
My favorite is the Audrey Jacket!
- This jacket was created for the fitness enthusiast! You can remove the hood and wear it to lunch or out to dinner. The jacket has an invisible pocket that can be utilized to store a cellphone, a metrocard, money or keys while running or working out! this jacket has been our best seller, because it fits all shapes and sizes from x-small to large and flatters the waist and hips, which all woman love!
Why do you think it’s important that women remain active despite being told “it’s dangerous out there.”?
- I feel it is very important to remain active and to spend time in nature and outside even though we have been told it is potentially dangerous. Using wisdom to work out in groups or in lighted areas is important, but it is also important to wear products that can protect you while enjoying your outdoor activities. We as woman should not feel fear or danger in our daily lives! It should be our mission to not only work on ourselves and enjoy exercise, but also encourage others as well!
Will we see more of you athletic wear? Will you add pieces?
- Yes! We have just completed our next collection which includes abstract black on black floral prints combined with mesh trimmings available in a new version of the Audrey jacket with removable hood, a new criss-cross back bra, and matching hand painted legging with mesh trim. We have a V-neck tank bra trimmed in gold and metallic gunmetal. There’s also a new zip waterproof-jacket available in gunmetal, black, white, camouflage and reflective. Our new ride capri leggings are best for spin class and our paneled leggings trimmed with gold are inspired from equestrian riders.