Maria Dueñas Jacobs
Meet Maria Dueñas Jacobs – former ELLE Accessories Editor, current Director of Brand Development at Stitch Fix, and forever mother of three. Maria has conquered the competitive fashion industry head on with elegance and ease. From dream job to motherhood, she tells us how she balances it all.
On your career…
The fashion industry can be a tough one to break in to - how did you get your start?
I am a strong believer in internships. While attending College at FIT, I interned at PR Consulting, Proenza Schouler and Vogue. I fell in love with the editorial side of publishing and was lucky enough to score my dream job as the fashion assistant to Glamour Magazine's then Fashion Director, Xanthipi Joannides. She was (and still is) an incredible mentor and helped me navigate the world of fashion at a very young age. It was a different time then (and different budgets) and my job included producing, traveling and assisting in styling shoots all around the world (Venice! St Barths! India!) as well as all celebrity cover shoots. It was such a fun yet demanding job but the best part was the people. I met so many incredible creatives that I have continued to work with as my career has evolved. As years passed (and I grew up a bit) I began to better understand my skills and strengths. Under Xanthipi I was promoted 3 times and ultimately left Glamour Magazine for my next dream job- Accessories Director at ELLE.
You were previously at ELLE and have started a new career chapter at Stitch Fix. What drove you to make this transition?
I joined Stitch Fix a year and a half ago after meeting CEO and Founder Katrina Lake and being so impressed with her story and Stitch Fix’s innovative approach to retail. I loved my job at ELLE but felt compelled to join Stitch Fix on its incredible journey in changing the way people shop!
For readers that are not familiar with Stitch Fix, can you give us a little insight into what they offer?
Educating and turning people onto Stitch Fix is one of my favorite parts of my job because I am truly excited about the company. Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that uses a mix of highly developed algorithms and human stylists to develop a curated Fix (essentially a wardrobe in a box) for each client. It’s super simple...you fill out a style profile and a personal stylist will hand pick pieces to fit your tastes, needs and budget—and then mail them directly to your door. We recently launched Kids too which is such a fun and effortless way to shop for your kids - as a mom of three, I love it!
How was the transition from editorial to brand development?
I was (and still am) excited by the change and evolution in my career. I grew up at Hearst and Condé Nast surrounded by creatives, so there was definitely a learning curve when acclimating to a tech environment. At Stitch Fix, I am surrounded by incredible business-centric minds which have inspired me to push myself and think more strategically + lean on data for better results.
What do you miss most about editorial?
This is a bit hypocritical but I miss the parts that I used to complain about...fashion months in Milan and Paris and trips for Resort collections. Traveling for long periods of time away from my kids was exhausting and hard. I felt worn out at the time and of course now I have FOMO.
What do you love most about your current position?
I love that I continue to apply a lot of the skills I learned in editorial while still tapping into my growing network of designers, brands, influencers and creatives for projects and collaborations with Stitch Fix.
If you weren’t working in fashion, what would you be doing?
Maybe something in the kids space because I really love children and how free and creative they are.
What advice would you give someone trying to make it in the industry?
Intern! Start somewhere...learning what you don't like is as important as learning what you do like. Internships can help you figure out what to do next- they did for me!
Describe your style in one sentence.
Tailored updated classics.
What is your fashion philosophy?
Keeping things pretty simple, aiming for “effortless style” even if it meant actually being thoughtful about your outfit (no one has to know) ;)
Who are your style icons?
I love everything Natasha Goldenberg wears.
What is your winter wardrobe must-have?
A statement jacket always makes a winter outfit! I love this Joie pink moto jacket because it’s a classic oversized look but the pink color makes it extra special.
What is the piece that means the most to you in your closet?
My jewelry means the most to me because nearly all my pieces have a sentiment or memory attached to them.
What is your go-to accessory?
Do you have any favorite upcoming accessory designers we need to know about?
Currently obsessed with my new Bleecker and Prince Onyx earrings and really love her pieces.
You’re running late and throwing on something easy, like jeans and a tee – what piece do you quickly grab to accessorize and elevate your look?
Definitely some statement earrings and I stack around 5-10 rings...they feel like my fashion armor in a weird way :)
What is the best part of motherhood?
Being equal parts in love beyond belief + overwhelmed/confused/tired. My girls keep me on my toes everyday, every second!
You have three adorable girls, two of which are twins! How do you juggle being a mother and a businesswoman?
Juggle is the right word...one second I am a pro and want to brag to the world and the next second I drop ALL of the balls. It’s not a perfect science, I just do the best I can everyday.
Did the girls inherit your love for fashion and accessories?
Yes they have! They steal my jewelry and my shoes. It’s very cute but also I wish they would stop because they totally don’t understand the value yet and I don’t want them to lose my things!
With three little girls, how do you find “me” time?
I hide in the bathroom sometimes and take long showers, apply lotion for too long etc. Also, I make sure to stop at nail salons and get 10-minute massages pretty often. That’s my secret treat ;)
How did you and your husband meet?
In a bar in Soho, 15 years ago and pre Tinder/Bumble!
What do you do to stay connected as a couple with little ones running around?
We try to have dinner together every night and catch up on our days. Sometimes it’s in front of the TV watching our latest Netflix binge but other times it’s just us in the dining table having mini dates.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received, or would give?
“Put your own oxygen mask on first” when someone told me this metaphor and piece of advice something clicked and I became a better parent. Kids need YOU to be okay, rested, fed so that you can be your best self and the best parent you can be.
On travel and home…
Favorite NYC neighborhood? Why?
West Village. When I first moved to NYC 15+ years ago I used to walk the streets of the West Village and dream of living here. Now I live here and walk the streets with my 3 daughters and I feel so lucky.
Favorite neighborhood spots?
My go-to’s include: Charlie Bird, Hudson Clearwater, Brodo, Cafe Cluny, Sant Ambroeus.
What are some of your go-to travel destinations?
Miami and Hamptons are staples for us
Is there somewhere you’ve been dying to go?
I love to travel and look forward to when the girls grow up a bit and we can start taking longer trips. I want to take them to new places I’ve never visited (Africa!) as well as places I loved and want to experience again with them! (Japan, Thailand, Greece!)
If you could pick any place in the world to live, besides NYC, where would it be?
LA is tempting because of the quality of life and weather but I adore NY and am raising little New Yorkers!
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