FameBooking had the pleasure of interviewing luxury designer, entrepreneur, and Phoenix celebrity Joan Dominique. Perhaps you’ve seen her men’s leather shoes and would like to learn how she began coupling class design with contemporary styling.
You’re very young and yet already focused on a specific niche: contemporary luxury menswear. How did that come to be your focus?
Menswear in general was never my intention. I entered the industry in hopes of becoming the ultimate next womenswear couture designer, the position every young female in fashion usually desires. In school, I experimented with different aesthetics and different fields of fashion design, and upon graduation I did not have a clear direction of where I wanted to go with a company of my own. I had a lot of success with my footwear that I completed for my thesis and I decided that this direction could be unique. I began with women’s footwear and began to work with manufacturers and, in that process, discovered higher quality in men’s footwear. I also discovered that it’s a niche market. So, I ran with it.
How do you work classic designs into something contemporary for men?
It’s a process of identifying a classical element in men’s footwear, of which there are many, and manipulating it into something that has not been seen before. For example, our triple monk strap dress boot is a unique combination of a re-envisioned double monk strap and a dress boot.
Do you make things for women, you know—your mom, self, or friends?
Yes! Joan Dominique just launched her women’s shoe line starting with the Antheia style. It’s limited edition and available for purchase online now.
You’ve always wanted to be in fashion design. How did that begin, then evolve?
It started with a school project in second grade. We were asked to find famous figures that share the same birthday and Donna Karan shares October 2 with me. This project was the first time I discovered that fashion design could be a career and I fell in love with the idea of visually challenging transforming the human form.
So in second grade you did a report on Donna Karan! What is it you admired about her?
At the time of the report it was 2003, around the pinnacle of her career. DKNY was prospering and her name was an industry staple at New York Fashion Week.
What is it about the Phoenix fashion scene that you like, if anything?
Phoenix Fashion Week is where I started, I will always have a warm place for it in my heart. I began working with the company at the raw age of 15 and was able to understand more about how the industry works in terms of events and runway shows. There is a unique banter between designer, stylist, model, and finale execution.
And what are other things about Phoenix?
AJ’s Iced Tea. Hands down.
You also live in New York, a hugely different environment, for presumably obvious reasons. Would it be too much for you to live there full-time now?
I’ve been living in New York City since I was 17 years old, went to Parsons the New School there. I travel back and forth from Phoenix to New York constantly. I have homes in both locations. It’s a fast-paced and aggressive environment due to the saturation of companies in the industry, but that is also its greatest appeal.
Being an entrepreneur generally means working 7 days a week. Do you work night and day?
Yes, the work is nonstop and it challenges you to be clever and maneuver around the changes that come your way. However, the force behind your work ethic is passion; therefore, it doesn’t really feel like work.
How do you cool down after a particularly stressful convo or day?
A great workout session is what calms me. I need to physically exhaust to release any pent-up emotional stress that the day might have built.
You’ve said your mother factors in enormously in your life and business – how has she in the past and how now?
That she does—she’s my best friend. She pushed me into the world of entrepreneurship, where she is, and I have never looked back.
Now that you are a Phoenix celebrity, What are your current goals, career-wise?
My current goals are to expand Maison Joan Dominique into women’s footwear. We recently launched that division with our Antheia styled heel, which is limited edition as I mentioned.
Is there any advice that you’d give to someone trying to do what you’re doing?
Pick something you love and that is niche. Hard work and passion are a beautiful combination. Ideas are golden but are nothing without the hustle to make them a reality. Once I had started, I found a pure distinction between having an idea and making it an actuality. There are many realities that you will face that will modify your initial idea in the creation process. But you must embrace these changes and leverage them to your advantage.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
If you want to live the life of the 1%, you must be willing to do what the other 99% are not willing to do.
Any other interests that you make time for?
Weightlifting, and Bikram and Vinaysa Yoga are my go-to work out classes. I love going for long walks, and usually walk an average of four miles a day. I also take great care of my French bulldog, Zola.
Who are your 5 favorite designers, dead or alive?
1. Alexander McQueen 2. Charles Fredrick Worth 3. Guo Pei 4. Elsa Schiaparelli 5. Prada
Tell us something about yourself, such as a talent you have, that most people don’t know.
I spent my childhood learning how to play the cello. It’s my secret passion.
Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss your growing business and design notes, Joan Dominique. We can see why this Phoenix celebrity’s fashion brand is expanding and getting featured regularly in lifestyle publications.