My lightbulb moment: Clothing designer Jennifer Ison

My lightbulb moment: Clothing designer Jennifer Ison reveals the inspiration behind her collection of petite women’s wear

  • Jennifer Ison, 55, set up her premium petite brand Jennifer Anne in 2017
  • She desired to swap her law career for something creative after her son’s birth 
  • Her lightbulb moment came from her struggles to find stylish petite clothing

Jennifer Ison, 55, worked as a lawyer, before setting up premium petite brand Jennifer Anne in 2017. Married to Daniel, a businessman, she lives in London and has three sons, aged 18, 22 and 24.

I used to work as a corporate lawyer in the City and, at 5 ft 1 in, I found it impossible to source workwear. I grew tired of coming back from shopping trips empty-handed.

People think that if you’re petite, you can wear anything — but often, the waist sits too low, the body is too long and the shoulders too wide. And don’t get me started on sleeve and trouser lengths.

I had my first child in my early 30s and was finding the all-nighters punishing. Meetings were run by men who, apparently, didn’t have any desire to go home.

So I went part-time, then set up my own law firm.

Jennifer Ison, 55, (pictured) was inspired to launch her petite clothing brand after searching for something more creative than her law career

When my third son was in his teens, I took a gap year and did a postgraduate diploma in history of art, which gave me the confidence to swap law for something more creative.

It was then that I had my lightbulb moment. Why not design a stylish, versatile, modern collection for petite women, using my own experience? So many clothes for petite women are slightly frumpy, or targeted at young girls.

Our pattern cutters would take the petite woman’s frame as the starting point for designs, rather than just lopping a few centimetres off conventional measurements.

We put our own savings into it. I had a strong sense of style, but no fashion background — I come from a family of lawyers — so I had to do a lot of research.

It took 18 months to launch Jennifer Anne (my first two names). I was constantly researching and travelling. My sons were great, helping out with cooking. They’re proud, but a bit bemused!

We fit everything on models who are 5 ft 3 in and under. So far, the collection consists of 22 pieces, including dresses, skirts, trousers and jackets. Now, we’re working on weekend wear. The brand is sold online, though people can make private appointments.

We were thrilled when Jennifer Anne was chosen by Theo Paphitis, formerly a ‘Dragon’ on TV’s Dragons’ Den, as one of his Small Business Sunday winners.

It is hard work, but it’s so rewarding knowing I am helping other petite women solve the problem of finding stylish, quality clothes.

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