Owner and Designer, Paige Premium Denim
Meet Paige Adams-Geller at Ladies Who Launch LIVE in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 31. Click for more info.
Long before being anointed “The Queen of Jeans” by People magazine, Paige Adams-Geller, the founder of Paige Premium Denim, worked for a decade as a fit model. Because of her experience, she knows how different fabrics and cuts look and feel on the female body. And, even more importantly, she knows how jeans can make a woman feel either sexy and fierce or, after she’s slogged through a dressing room stacked with flaw-accentuating pants, full of despair.
Like many women, Geller has faced her own self-esteem issues. While modeling she suffered from anorexia. Since recovering, she has made it her personal and professional crusade to help liberate women from unhealthy body image ideals, and give them some fabulous jeans in which to fight the good fight.
Since launching Paige Premium Denim in 2005, her jeans have become celebrity favorites and appeared in such magazines as Marie Claire and Lucky. She also recently penned the book Your Perfect Fit with professional trainer Ashley Borden, which offers tips for dressing for your body type as well as a regimen to help you exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet. Now there’s a queen who wants her subjects to be healthy and divine.
What we learned from Paige: “Lots of times, people just start to design things they like, but there’s no cohesiveness to what they’re doing. To be very clear is critical, because even in the design process, sometimes there can be lots of chefs in the kitchen. And, for me, I would be looking at different ideas that other people would present to me and say, ‘Love it, but it’s not right for the brand. It’s great but it’s not Paige. It just doesn’t work with my image.’ I think that’s critical, because you don’t want your customer to have brand confusion.”
Do What You Know (and Love)
“While I was fit modeling, my area of expertise became denim, and then I became known as a fit expert, and then a denim design consultant. So when I started the company Paige, it just seemed like a natural progression.”
Facing Off Against the Denim Mafia
“I had a boyfriend out of college who said to me that as far as business goes, at least in the fashion business women can succeed, make a lot of money, be great bosses, and be taken seriously. I remembered that, and it stuck with me. But there still are tremendous challenges for me. The huge challenge was that there were really no women in the denim industry. The denim industry was secretly known as the denim mafia. There’s this group of boys that have been running the business for years.”
Sometimes It Takes a Woman
“The whole premise that Paige Premium Denim is based on as a brand—it’s about fit and flattering your body—is truly my expertise. And because of my insecurities over time with my body, it makes me even better at making sure that the lines are in the right places, the seams are in the right places. And that’s something that a woman can do better than a man, because I’m actually designing the clothes off of my body and off of another woman’s body. And I understand what they go through, so that’s where women can be extremely successful.”
Just Know, It Hurts to Grow
“There are always growing pains, and that’s just setting up the different divisions in the company, and organizing, and getting structure. I think the hardest part is structure, and communication flow, within the divisions of the company.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
“One of the things I learned early on from a man who’s a self-made billionaire is that you can pretty much do anything someone asks you to do, because you can hire the experts to do it. I loved that advice, and it made me feel like I didn’t have to doubt myself. I just have to have integrity and a strong business, build a beautiful place that people want to work in, and if I’m not sure how to do it, I need to ask immediately. Don’t be afraid to ask. People don’t expect you to know everything.”
A Win-Win Workplace
“I have been a victim of rape, and I have also been attacked in the workplace. When I was attacked in the workplace, I stood up to him and filed charges. So the most important thing to me is that I create a work environment that is safe and non-confrontational for women and men, and that supports, nurtures, and empowers people. I firmly believe in positive feedback, being a positive influence, and building people up instead of breaking people down. And if people make mistakes, as long as they admit it, we move on and we move forward. I really try to keep that peace and harmony here.”
Live to Learn
“There are aspects of this business that, in the beginning, I didn’t quite understand. But that doesn’t make me less than [somebody else], that just means that’s not an area of my expertise. And I always want to know more—I don’t want to be blindsided and assume, ‘Oh that area is running itself smoothly, he’s over there doing what he’s doing,’ and not know what it is that’s going on there. It is very critical to really oversee everything that’s happening, and not just expect that everyone is doing their job.”
Communication Is Key
“I hired my life coach, who is a communications expert, to come in and make sure that communication is flowing through the proper channels within the business, because the whole business creates a domino effect. When something’s getting inputted in the system, it affects how many buttons you’re ordering, and how much fabric you’re ordering, and how much thread you’ve got to buy, which affects the shipping. Everything affects everything else. So there has to be communication going on between all areas of the business to make it flow right.”
Measuring Success One Customer Story at a Time
“What I get most out of the success of the company are the thousands of e-mails I get from satisfied customers, who have either been inspired by my story or have found a new way of loving their body and feeling good about themselves. Or their husband has complimented them on the fact that they have the new butt of a teenager, because the jeans look so great on them. Or the women who cry coming into the store when I’m working with customers who say that they can never find anything that looks good on them, and the feeling that I get when I find something for them that really does make them look and feel good.”
Tips on Body Type and Jean Type
“Before buying jeans, know what it is that you don’t like about the jeans you already own. And know what it is that you want to buy the jeans for: Is it something you want seven days a week, is it your dress jean, is it your not-dress jean? What do you want to have happen on your body? You want to distract away from your tummy if you hate the way you usually look in jeans because your tummy’s too big. When you know those things, then it’s easier to find a jean faster.”
Favorite Brand (That Isn’t Paige)
“I don’t wear anything else. Really, I don’t. I got rid of all my old jeans. But Seven for All Mankind was probably my favorite jean before. Plus, I was there from the company’s inception, so I had a fondness for the brand. And I learned so much while I was there, so I definitely know that they’ve done it right, and they have an amazing product.”
Wake Up Grateful
“I start my day being grateful for everything I have and for where I am. I always want to start my day with my glass half full. And I keep that positive attitude running with me wherever I go, because even when problems arise—and you will have problems, you will have growing pains—they’re not forever. I have to remember that whatever emotion I’m feeling at the moment is not going to be forever. If I work through the fears, the emotions, and the stress, it will pass.”
Parting Thoughts …
-“My entrepreneurial muse is … probably my brother [of Troy Adams Design]. He’s a really high-end kitchen/bath/closet interior designer and has an extremely beautiful, high-end product. He’s a great businessman and has had great vision. We come from this little town in the middle-of-nowhere Alaska and have been true to our passion, and I’m just really proud of him. He walks his walk and talks his talk.”
-“My most rewarding business moment … was the first day I saw a random stranger wearing a pair of Paige.”
-“My scariest business moment … was the day before I launched Paige Premium Denim. I was so nervous, and I ground my teeth so hard I cracked a tooth.”
-“Every entrepreneur should … This sounds so Pollyanna, but they should stay true to what their beliefs are in their brand, or in the project, or whatever it is they’re doing.”
-“Success to me means … walking through your fears.”
This Featured Lady was profiled by Sarah Tomlinson, a freelance writer in Los Angeles.