Only one year out of college, this fearless female founder self-funded a clothing brand that aims to change a woman’s relationship with workwear, and empower them in the process — all at the ripe age of 23.
Adrienne Kronovet created Ameliora, a New York-based women’s workwear brand, to support women in the workplace and to simultaneously invigorate dwindling American manufacturing.
The company is founded on the philosophy of meliorism– a belief that the world can be made better by human effort, from which the brand’s name is also derived. This philosophy underpins not only how the startup operates, but also the clothing itself, which Kronovet describes as “designed to inspire confidence, and create a special feeling of invincibility”.
Fast fashion is not cutting it, she argues. Rather, she sources Italian fabrics that are sewn into high-quality pieces by seamstresses in the city. The proceeds from her sales go to women-centric organizations locally in New York City and around the world.
“Our mission is to help women achieve success, and our team works tirelessly in pursuit of this crucial goal. Women today demand more than fast fashion can offer, and they deserve more accountability than most brands are willing to give,” she says.
Despite more women than ever entering the professional workforce, the landscape of women’s office wear remains uninspiring, Kronovet argues. Finding a compromise between bespoke suits with a hefty price-tag, and the social cost of fast-fashion that many US women are becoming increasingly aware of, can be hard.
Ameliorawants to provide staple pieces for the modern woman. Launched less than six months ago, the brand´s first streamlined capsule collection consists of eight office wear items, all created in the same uniform black fabric. This move, Kronovet says, was to make the clothing versatile and easy for customers to integrate into their existing wardrobes as well as complement any future offerings by the company. It’s the black-red combo (a black shell coupled with red silk lining) that Kronovet says, adds to that feeling of invincibility and confidence alluded to earlier.
Launching Ameliora straight out of college, Kronovet is undeniably a very young CEO, an achievement she believes was made possible with the help from a network of inspirational female mentors.
“I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by incredible women who have taken the time and energy to guide me throughout my education and career,” she says.
Each item in Ameliora’s current collection is named for one of these women, with the brand’s website describing the ways in which they have inspired her. Online the company also details its own ambition to support and lift-up fellow women by donating a portion of all proceeds to charities that offer help to women in need: these include, The Seleni Institute, a non-profit devoted to emotional health of women and families; the Global Housing Foundation, which helps urban homeless (but employed) individuals find and finance a home; and the Global PTSI Foundation, which treats individuals with PTSI/PTSD and female soldiers, in particular, who need treatment.
It’s an interesting marriage of activism, social good, and consumerism. But she’s not a newbie to fashion. Her grandfather was also in the business, operating a clothing mill in her native North Carolina. Seeing first-hand the impact of dying textile mills across the country, including her grandfather´s mill which eventually closed, inspired her to start a made in the USA brand. The fabric used in each of the brand´s pieces is produced in a family owned mill on the outskirts of Milan, and subsequently brought to New York where it is designed, tailored and sewn in the city’s famed garment district. In doing so, she says she “proudly supports American workers, and feels honored to help bring important manufacturing jobs back to our country.”
It’s not cheap. This comes, inevitably, with a higher price-tag than one might usually find at malls and with high street brands (jackets are priced upwards of $445). Thus, the brand will need to convince customers that this cost is justified. Kronovet is not worried; she refers to her “principled production methods” as the key seller for a growing audience of consumers who are keen on transparency, fairness, and durability. It’s unlikely you’ll need to buy more than one of any item, as they’re meant to last and become wardrobe staples, she adds. In addition, the company is confident that women will be won over by their ideology of female-empowerment and support.
Although the female-led group behind Ameliora is currently small, Kronovet says that she’s been able to negotiate favorable terms with her suppliers, which has enabled her to self-fund this small operation. She already has plans on how to expand the collection: she’s working with mills in both Japan and Spain to develop a unique shirt fabric, and then wants to “re-engineer the construction of women’s pumps” to make them more comfy and wearable every day at work.