Welcome to the ZANNI blog, your up-to-the-minute source for whatever where we’ll share life behind the scenes at ZANNI and bring you stories of all the badass women who inspire us every day.
ZANNI was created by Suzanne Lewis, a Boston native and UI/UX designer by day. The idea for a technical dress came to her one summer night as she rode her bike to dinner in a cotton dress, which was the perfect outfit for the evening but just didn’t cut it for a 5-mile ride. Suzanne knew she needed a dress that functioned like workout apparel but also looked Jackie O-ready. No such dress existed, so the journey to create Dresses for Whatever began.
Today we’re sitting down with Suzanne for some insight on her new female entrepreneur status and what it’s like to take your dream from concept to reality.
Q: What do YOU love about ZANNI?
SL: I love how the dresses make you feel and how you can literally wear them anywhere. You can feel dressed up without having to overthink your outfit or you can go for a hike in your dress without worrying that you are ruining it. I'm a very active person so my days are crazy. Feeling comfortable physically and feeling like I look put together is key.
Q: What’s been the most rewarding part of creating ZANNI?
SL: Getting to see an idea of mine in tangible form is amazing. I love that I have 5 of my actual dream dresses in my closet and now I get to see my friends wear them in real life. That is so crazy. I also feel very grateful for the new friendships ZANNI has helped me manifest. It's been a really cool process collaborating with so many talented women that have helped me bring ZANNI to life.
Q: Give us the dirt. What’s been the most challenging?
SL: Having zero fashion experience has obviously been a big obstacle. Also finding the right fabric, which is the key component of ZANNI dresses. It took me almost a year to find my fabric because I was looking for the right performance qualities, the right feel, the right manufacturing tactics, and the right (low) minimums. I wanted a mill that was environmentally responsible and produced high quality knits, and eventually I found it in Italy, which was lucky. Once I had the fabric I thought I had a grasp on how to approach projects coming from the UX/tech world, but I had to and am still learning the language of the apparel industry in order to communicate with my fabric supplier, pattern maker, production factory etc. It's been a lot of learning on the go, asking questions and just learning how to connect a whole new set of dots.
Q: How has your tech background helped you with ZANNI?
SL: Having always worked at small companies or freelancing on my own, I was used to taking responsibility for projects, organizing vendors, and managing them from start to finish to get the job done. I had a lot of bosses that taught me how to approach projects and break larger goals into small, approachable steps, which I think is essential for tackling any goal.