Meet Alexis Badiyi, a Brooklyn-based creative and stylist. When New York shut down in the spring, Alexis started sewing masks, creating a business called JOON, and has continued to sew whenever not styling on set. She uses only vintage and deadstock fabrics and has donated proceeds each month to an organization of her choice.
Endlessly inspired by those who were able to take the challenges of 2020 and create, pivot or begin something new through them, I sat down with Alexis, wearing our Collared Shirt in Olive Leaf, to talk about entrepreneurship, fabric sourcing and future plans to expand JOON.
Why did you begin making masks?
One day, early in quarantine, I dusted off the machine and just started sewing. Working in textiles, I had collected quite a bit of deadstock fabric and my fiancé gave me some of his cotton button ups. Now, I have been sourcing vintage and deadstock fabrics weekly. The support has been really amazing. I love seeing the masks I've created out in the community and on friends, old and new. In the beginning all proceeds were donated to NY health and hospitals, and since, I've been rotating causes each month including NAACP, G.L.I.T.S., The Okra Project, The Loveland foundation and vote.org. I cannot imagine this time without this project.
Had you always known how to sew? Is there anything you would always sew in the past and do you have plans to sew anything new in the future?
I've been sewing since grade school and trained further in college, but had not used a machine in a decade before beginning JOON. I would love to continue to expand JOON. My sister and I have something special brewing for, hopefully, next year.
You previously worked at Helmut Lang and Ralph Lauren. What made you take the entrepreneurial leap and how did you know it was the right time?
I grew up in a family where entrepreneurial careers were generally custom. My father was a film director and my mother was an actress and then a creative consultant. My maternal grandparents had their own packaging and design company in cosmetics and, going a generation further back, my maternal great-grandfathers were a film distributor and an art curator in Europe. Many generations of creatives & entrepreneurial immigrants.
When I started my first corporate job, my family was, of course, supportive, but would continually encourage and ask me when I was going to start my own thing. Although I am very grateful for my corporate background (and there are still highs and lows), I would choose this path again and again. It's in my blood.
As a relaunch, Coco Shop is interested in all of the ways creatives and business owners take something old and make it new again. Why did you decide to use only found fabric?
Fashion is one of our most wasteful industries. When I began sewing, it was from vintage and deadstock that I collected over the years. I knew that if I was going to contribute to the industry, I wanted to do it mindfully and with renewal at the forefront. Sourcing has been challenging during CoViD. Currently, I’m doing it all online through smaller sellers. Once we are able to venture out again, I hope to source vintage in larger quantities across the US.
Does renewal play a role in your styling?
When sourcing for shoots, I always want to feature ethical, inclusive and emerging designers. I also love to bring pieces from my vintage archive. My favorite shoots have included subtle elements of old and new.
What does style mean to you?
Style has always been something that has been a part of me. It is a universal language that can transform oneself and others.
Is there anything that makes you feel personally renewed and ready to take on what’s next?
Being completely immersed in nature.