Highly Recommend is a place to celebrate entrepreneurs, quality products, and, above all, great style. Here, we share some of Argent's favorite fellow fashion brands—ones we turn to when styling our own collection—and the founders behind them.
The best products are often born from the biggest unsolved problems. For instance, Argent’s origin story began in part with a lack of workwear options for women. And handbag line Freja New York can relate to this phenomenon, too. Founded by Jenny Lei nearly three years ago, Freja is the result of Lei’s own fruitless search for an everyday bag that can keep up with a busy professional’s needs and still look good enough to wear for the off-hours. Following a year of development, Freja debuted its first style in 2020: a polished, rectangular tote bag with ample space for storage.
To date, Freja stocks a small but impressive number of bag styles on its site—ones that can carry a laptop and a change of shoes, and smaller shoulder bags that neatly tuck away the essentials—each upholding the brand’s values of sustainability and thoughtful production. For instance, Lei opts for vegan leather in her designs, she works with a small, family-owned factory dedicated to improving working conditions, and products are made in small batches to avoid waste. To date, Lei’s not only created the solution to her (and many others’) problem, she’s done so on her own terms. Read more of her story ahead.
FREJA NEW YORK LAUNCHED IN:
THE ORIGIN STORY OF FREJA NEW YORK IN 10 WORDS OR LESS:
“Classic bags with modern details, made with exceptional ingredients.”
MY CURRENT SOURCE OF INSPIRATION IS:
“How people live their multifaceted and dynamic lives. We design each bag from the inside out, so that means approaching all designs from a purpose-driven point of view. We consider who is using the bag, in what capacity, what they need to carry each day, and then combine it all into a sleek, lightweight, and minimalistic package. We also take into consideration all customer feedback (I answer all emails personally) so we’re very in tune with our community’s needs and wants.”
ONE PIECE OF ADVICE I WISH I HAD BEEN GIVEN DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF MY BUSINESS:
“I have a few! Do one thing really well. You don’t need to create something groundbreaking, but you do need to be different—whether that’s your product, the process, the experience, your branding, etc.
"Create your own dialogue. Find your voice. Freja really came together when I stopped trying to be like other brands and started focusing on resonating with one customer really deeply.
"Trust your intuition. Many of the pivotal decisions we made (partnering with a fulfillment center, making key hires, etc.) were also the scariest and most stressful ones, but looking back I wish I made them even earlier. Big decisions = big results.”
THE BEST PIECE OF CUSTOMER FEEDBACK I'VE EVER RECEIVED:
“My heart absolutely melts whenever a customer mentions that they’ve read our About page in its entirety. It’s a 2,000-word essay (so definitely a bit of a commitment) and I can’t believe people take the time out of their busy day to read it.”
THE MOST CHALLENGING PART ABOUT THIS CHAPTER OF MY BUSINESS:
“The lack of any real roadmap or direction. There are so many paths we could pursue (in regards to branding, marketing, product design) that it’s hard to focus and double down on any particular one. I don’t have any training or formal experience to rely on so I’m also learning on the fly which is both intimidating and extremely fun. Luckily, I thrive in uncertainty, I absolutely love not knowing what the next month will bring.”
AND YET, LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE OF FREJA NEW YORK, I’M EXCITED BECAUSE:
“I’m most excited to keep building and growing our team. My team is easily my biggest inspiration and blessing and I can’t wait to see what the Freja team looks like 2-3 years down the line!”
"Freja really came together when I stopped trying to be like other brands and started focusing on resonating with one customer really deeply."
MY FAVORITE STYLE IN THE COLLECTION IS:
“Definitely the Lafayette Tote. It’s our newest design and personally, I think it symbolizes an evolution in my journey as a designer, too. I think it’s the perfect blend of classic yet unique, while still capturing the Freja functionality our community knows and loves.”
I WEAR IT WITH:
“The Argent wide-leg trouser—such a reliable, impeccably tailored staple piece and an INSTANT confidence boost!”