Jew at the head of the STL Fashion Fund


Talking about fashion with Monique Levy is far from futile. While she notes that everyone should get dressed before leaving the house each day, she is also quick to point out that fashion is so much more than what we put on our bodies to wear. According to the economic development group STL Alliance, the fashion industry contributes $ 3.3 billion per year to the economy of the Saint-Louis region. It employs tens of thousands of people and spans everything from textile and clothing brands to wholesalers, importers, designers, pattern cutters, sewers, manufacturers, retailers, marketers and sales teams, among others.

In other words, it is serious business.

In May, Levy, who is a member of Congregation B’nai Amoona, was appointed CEO of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund.

The Saint Louis Fashion Fund

The association, founded in 2014, is committed to economic development by working in collaboration with local and regional civic leaders. As Levy explains, the mission of the Fund is to help attract, retain and facilitate the growth of businesses in the fashion, retail and manufacturing sectors.

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Levy’s 10-year goal as head of the Fashion Fund is to double the amount the fashion industry contributes to the city’s coffers each year, bringing that number to more than $ 6 billion.

And while it’s certainly no small feat, she says she’s up to the task and is excited to bring new jobs and businesses here.

Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Levy moved from Baltimore to St. Louis over four years ago with her husband Jonathan, who grew up here, and their daughter Rebecca, now 4 1/2. Prior to joining the Fashion Fund, she was Director of Development and Operations for Gateway to Hope, a non-profit organization that supports people diagnosed with breast cancer. She also holds a law degree from St. Thomas School of Law in Miami.

the Jewish light recently caught up with Levy to talk about her new role, St. Louis as a City of Fashion, and why Judaism is important to her.

You’ve been in the job for about six months. What were your main goals and priorities?

My top priority is to really focus the Fashion Fund on its stated mission and to be serious about this next venture. Economic development is at the heart of business – it’s networking, it’s relationship building and it does both with the right people. What the Fashion Fund needs to be strategic and demonstrate that we, as an organization, are more than capable of undertaking this business, but in order to do that we have to get our ducks in order, we have to have our books in order. point and we have to have policies and procedures in place. That’s what I’ve been busy doing, and fundraising, of course.

Can you talk about the sartorial part of fashion and the business side? of it and where does the Fashion Fund intersect the two?

Clothing is a commodity like anything we buy. There is a sector specific to each industry for each type of merchandise, and ours is fashion. The difference with fashion is that most people think it’s high-end, unattainable, and unattainable, and it only works in Los Angeles and New York.

At Fashion Fund, we try to look at fashion the same way St. Louis looked at other emerging industries, we want to do the exact same with fashion. You have to look at fashion for the company that it is, which is at the heart of retail and manufacturing, but it’s really so much more than that.

The second part shows the community what we already have. It puts our businesses and entrepreneurs first, it makes shopping local, it highlights what’s happening in St. Louis right now and how the fund is helping to connect those elements. The fund is not the central point, the fund is the connector. It’s not about us, it’s about what we can do for the community.

What effect has the pandemic had on the Fashion Fund and fashion in general?

The pandemic has really affected the fashion when it comes to the supply chain. We are feeling more of a spillover effect this year than last year. We are now seeing the backlog and that only reinforces the fact that we need to reinvest in our communities and think about domestic manufacturing and what it means to buy local. As consumers, we have to accept a higher price if we want things to be local.

This is the reality of the pandemic. It made everyone take a step back and think about priorities and spending. If you want something local, handmade, or made in the USA, are you willing to pay an extra $ 10-15 to have that item?

What is the advantage of having the Fashion Fund?

It’s having that specific point of contact with someone who knows what you’re talking about and is ready to take your phone call and listen to you. The Fashion Fund serves as a trusted thought leader and intermediary – in other words, we understand what you’re going through. We understand that you are serious about starting your own business.

It’s about making those connections and opening the doors for companies and manufacturers to be more inclined to put down roots here.

How would you describe your style and what makes good fashion?

I like a good capsule wardrobe. I am a big supporter of Rent the Runway and sustainable consumption practices.

In terms of good fashion, I think it’s about having confidence in wearing what you’re wearing. Personally, I don’t do high end labels. I am much more about the right fit than the trends because to look good in your clothes, they have to be well adjusted!

How would you describe the St. Louis fashion style?

I would say St. Louis fashion style combines comfort with current trends.

How do your Jewish values ​​influence what you do at the Fashion Fund?

One of the things I take to heart is not to embarrass or make people feel worse. I say this because with business and this industry in particular, you can sometimes find yourself in difficult situations. It can be competitive and egos get the better of people sometimes.

I do my best to be respectful, even in situations where another person is not kind or respectful to me.

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