If you’re a fan of mega-designers Trina Turk, Tory Burch and Lilly Pulitzer, your closet is sure to welcome Jude Connally. The Cranford resident’s signature collection of bright and playfully patterned tunics, dresses, tops, pants and vests is pure eye candy. In fact, local retailers can’t seem to keep her merchandise in stock.
For busy, fashionable women, versatile Jude Connally pieces are go-to favorites because the oh-so-forgiving nylon-spandex fabric hugs the body in all the right places and can be machine washed and dried. No need to run up dry-cleaning bills, the up-and-coming designer says.
Several years ago, Connally launched judeconnally.com, and she’s been making a name for herself ever since. “During our first year, we shipped locally to better boutiques like Preppy Palm in Swainton, D.J. Crater in Chatham and Windswept in Mendham. By the end of 2010, we were doing business with 50 shops. Now we work with 450 specialty boutiques across the U.S.—and just opened our premier retail store in Westfield,” says Connally, 49.
A busy, sporty, no-nonsense gal, Connally keeps it simple. “I just follow my instincts and design colorful, comfortable clothes for real women. I didn’t expect this level of success so soon, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s how to build a brand.”
Connally studied interior design at Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology, then entered the apparel industry when she was 21. During her 20 years in fashion sales and marketing, she worked with some of the greats: celebrated designer Tom Ford; retailing entrepreneur Christopher Burch (Tory’s ex-hubby); and Jim Bradbeer, who successfully rebranded Lilly Pulitzer in 1993.
“I learned a lot during those years. Then, after 9/11, when my two sons were young, I quit my full-time career to open Jude, a specialty store in Cranford. Four years later, I took the business to another level by selling my building and investing the profits—in myself,” she says.
Today, Connally’s thriving operation is based out of Kenilworth, and all her designs are produced in New York City. “Mine is a true American brand from start to finish. I’m proud to be 100 percent made in the USA,” she says. “I have so many ideas for building my business, and I feel like I can take my label wherever I want. I’m just getting started.”Click here to leave a comment