Let’s get real: Friday mornings like today can be a real test of willpower. We have to roll out of our comfortable beds, shower, put on makeup, mentally prepare for the homestretch before the weekend and get dressed in those intolerable slacks we can’t quite stand. The countdown to 5 p.m. and sweatpants has begun — well, unless you’ve got your Bammies on. Bammies are just what they sound like: business-appropriate pajamas (yep, they exist). Founded by Julia Ford-Carther and Rosario Chozas, the line launched in January with six chic, affordable items ranging between $80 and $170. The recently debuted collection of comfortable, stylish pieces are made to fit the many activities your day and make you feel confident in the process. I was lucky enough to chat with co-founder Julia Ford-Carther about how she turned one of her many dreams into a brand so notable that Mashable, New York Times, Fast Company and Entrepreneur have all taken notice.
Formally the Senior Editor of Ocean Drive magazine, Julia is the founder of The Self Love Formula, a website focused on elevating readers to their best selves, and SLF Media, her new content marketing concept for brands. She may not know this but when I lived in Florida as a publicist, I would read her Ocean Drive pieces and look up to her skill as a journalist. Her ability to follow her passion projects into a full-time career is something I admire and wanted to share with you. Julia is not only a powerhouse, she’s empowering.
You took a major leap by leaving a steady role to start your own business. What about the idea of Bammies made you believe in its potential?
Prior to that steady gig, I had freelanced once before, so I more or less knew what happens on the other end when the bi-weekly paychecks stop coming. When I left this time to pursue Bammies and my media company (SLF Media) full time, I had never felt more confident that I was doing the right thing in my life. I was finally fully committed—all in—to my passion and purpose-driven career. I’m driven by helping women gain a better understanding of who they truly are, who they want to be and how they want to feel, and giving them ways to activate that in life. Bammies fits into that using fashion as the vehicle, which is an added bonus (see Question 4 re 5-Year-Old Julia and her dreams). My mission and the company’s mission are very much aligned, so it was a no-brainer for me to sign on. The market for brands that embody and support female empowerment is hot right now—our timing is perfect, and that’s a huge indicator of whether a company will succeed. And, I knew we had touched on a void in the market that many women would respond to. I’m also of the mentality that it will succeed because I want it to succeed. You only fail if you stop trying. To me, the mission that Bammies embodies is a lifelong pursuit for me, so to stop trying doesn’t apply.
If you had to describe the “Bammies” woman, who would she be?
The Bammies woman has been described as the woman “on-the-go.” She’s that, sure, but she’s not just on-the-go. She’s complex, multi-layered, accomplishes a lot in one day and plays various roles in a 24-hour timeframe. She strives to create a
She’s a hustler at whatever she’s involved in (career, side-hustles, school, building a healthy family, philanthropy, etc.) and manages many things, and can be determined and strong and fierce. But she also knows that that there’s strength in her feminine softness. So in that regard, she doesn’t want to forsake or overshadow her womanness when it comes to fashion or any other aspect of life.
She’s somewhere along the journey of finding, knowing, honoring and loving her true self. And she knows she doesn’t need to dress in an inauthentic way (like a man or badly or ugly or not sexy or not amazing) because she’s a powerhouse.
Choosing a business partner is a serious commitment! What drew you to teaming up with Rosario?
Haha, I met Rosario around the same time I met my boyfriend (and he’s amazing; I’m keeping this one!). I don’t think that’s a coincidence. After all, timing is everything… When I met Rosario through our other career ventures at the time, I knew instantly that we’d be friends. Talking to her was like talking to myself, and you don’t come across that too often in life. The next week, we sat down for coffee and were sharing about all the projects we were developing and/or wanted to develop and I seriously just heard this tiny whisper of, “She’s going to be your business partner.” I’m huge on listening to your intuition. Back then, I didn’t know it would be for Bammies—she had told me about the idea for Bammies then but wasn’t quite ready to launch, and I had other projects for which I thought she’d make a great partner. But, turns out, it was for Bammies. I don’t question those pings of knowing. Plus, she had a fashion background that nicely complemented my media/marketing contribution. #DreamTeam
What was your favorite part of the design process?
Can I say all of it? Haha. I never thought I’d own a fashion business. Sure, it was 5-Year-Old Julia’s dream (along with being the next Oprah, which I’m also working on…), but you grow up and sometimes forget that those grand ideas are possible. Rosario came to me with the initial concepts for the first collection, so I got to help refine and put my own spin on each of them. When you put on that sample for the first time and the seamstress has nailed it and it looks exactly how you envisioned it (or somehow better, in many cases), that’s a fantastic feeling.
What’s the feeling you hope the Bammies-wearing woman feels?
The truest, best version of herself, and however that would feel to her, whether that be powerful, sexy, feminine, sultry, cute, independent, progressive, passionate, etc. It will be different for every woman, and perhaps a different feeling each day, and Bammies allows for that flexibility. That’s the beauty of it—it’s just an extension of your self through self-image.
What’s your favorite piece in the collection?
The Grace Blazer, hands down. But that’s because I’m all about marrying volume and structure. The blazer accomplishes this without being restrictive at all. The Consuelo Gauchos are also a love of mine—we really have done something with those that not many lines offer and it went through many iterations to get it juuuust right.
You’ve had a lot of amazing coverage and Bammies is making waves in the media. What’s been the biggest moment for you?
It’s been exciting! The best part has been receiving emphatic responses from women letting us know that Bammies had struck a chord. It was confirmation that there was a need for what we created.
There are SO MANY ideas we have that we get really excited about, from different Bammies line launches to collaborations and partnerships and large-scale activations. To us, Bammies is more than a fashion brand. It’s a movement, so you’ll be seeing us spread the movement to as many women as possible.
What advice would you give to women looking to start their own entrepreneurial endeavors?
Be in it for the long haul, and that requires knowing your WHY. You have to be really familiar and obsessed with your WHY. Why are you starting this? Who are you serving? Are you filling a void? Why do you want to fill that void? What pain point are you solving for others? Why is this important to you? Yes, your passion will be the catalyst that sees you through the initial stages of launching, but it’s your PURPOSE (the WHY) behind it that will carry you through the boredom of business routines, challenges, times of feeling stuck, and falling out of love with the work that has to go into making your idea come to life — and that will happen.
Also, don’t think you don’t have something to offer. While it seems like (and sometimes there are) a million and one people out there who have already done what you want to do (or something similar), there exists absolutely no one out there who has had the same exact life experiences, the same thoughts, the same purpose and mission, all being explored through your personal lens. That inherently makes your concept unique. Play that up as much as possible. In other words, we want to hear YOUR story, so don’t be afraid to get personal when sharing with us your WHY. That is also where you’ll find your own voice and style, which are cornerstones to developing a brand presence.
Where’s your favorite place to wear your Bammies?
In the beginning, we would wear our samples out to social and networking events, and let me tell you, the Connell Dress turns heads. That was great to witness—women coming up to us, falling over the dress, stopping us in our tracks, asking us where we had gotten it, getting great feedback And then to be able to say it was one of our originals was so fun.
How did your past career help your transition to starting a business?
I don’t know if my past career helped me transition so much as it gave me an invaluable skill set that I could use in almost any entrepreneurial endeavor.
Content is king, as they say, and given my ability to conceptualize and organize a story idea, as well as complete all the requisite interviewing, researching, writing, editing, and branding to bring it to life, I’ve got a solid grip on content. This comes in handy. It’s part of developing any brand and telling a story that resonates with your end user.
It’s also no secret that who you know always comes into play in life, especially in business. I’ve been lucky to have cultivated, over the years, a fantastic network and communities that supported my new ventures. Every day, as I grow the Bammies business, I realize more and more how crucial one’s communities are in today’s commerce. They have proven to be the cornerstone of our customer base so far, and I’m so excited to watch our Bammies community grow!
Love Julia’s interview? Tell me what your favorite takeaway was below! Also, you can buy your first pair of Bammies here.