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Making Fashion Survive Through the Pandemic

Photo by Al Torres Photography Inc

Jessica Robinson, CEO of Miss Robinson Fashion House in Houston, Tx, talks about how her brand is coping.

A typical day at Miss Robinson Fashion House is very energetic. As customers walk in through the gold doors, they are instantly greeted with a big smile from one of the stylists on staff. You get that New York fashion feeling. The fashion house has open spaces that feel synonymous to a runway. Almost completely decked out in marble, the one-stop shop is complimented with gold clothing racks, a pink couch by the dressing rooms, and a makeup station. That exclusive glamourous feeling has been halted, for now. With the rising COVID-19 pandemic, Jessica Robinson, CEO of Miss Robinson Fashion House, is doing everything in her power to make her business survive.  

Photo by Michael Franco.

“The results of COVID-19 were something I would have never expected to become a global pandemic in the early stages of my business not even being a year old.” The 28-year-old entrepreneur projected slow months but never imagined having to close down for several weeks for a global emergency. “I felt turning this into a positive. I wanted to use this time to play catch up on internal work that I’ve been needing to get done and focus on the online business.” Now, a typical day at the fashion house starts around noon, ends at 6 pm or later, and consists of working on their online shop, reorganizing the stock room, and lots of internal work.  

Jessica with one of her stylists on staff, Annalisa Ashmawee- Garcia. Photo by Stephania Campos.

The NYU and Parsons graduate always knew she wanted to make her mark in the fashion industry since she was 19 years old. “I started off working in public relations in New York, but before that, I was actually a model.” After years of being mentored by some of the best in the industry and making so many connections, friendships, and business partners, she decided to return to her hometown in Houston to execute her dream. “I always wanted to have a fashion showroom. I knew exactly what I wanted.”  

Photo by Joey Amato.

Jessica describes the clothing in her fashion house as girly and edgy statement pieces. “Some pieces are professional, day-to-night pieces.” Indeed, there is something for everyone, as they try to merchandise everything by occasion. As she continues to build a name for herself and her store in Houston, she is determined to press on. “Similar to the entrepreneurial journey, there’s always a first for everything. It’s nice to know that people will support a small business even when they don’t know where they stand going through this. Then came depression. I was staying as productive as possible yet it came to a point where I am like “how can I keep planning for the future and is it really worth it?” Her team, whom she continued to praise over and over, has helped her to cope during this pandemic.  

MRFH at New York Fashion Week in Feb 2020, produced by Maggie Delany. Photo by Michael Dickinson.

The depression and anxiety kick in a lot when her team is looking for answers. “It’s hard to be a leader when I’m unsure of myself in search of answers. Then the anxiety hit when I had to make cutbacks. I had to let go of my best friends that are buyers in order to keep my company surviving and my girls that work daily paid.” Still, Jessica didn’t listen when she was told by other business owners with a bigger staff to terminate her employees so that they can file for unemployment. “That didn’t feel right in my heart. I love my girls; they’ve been there since day one. I found out about payroll protection and was persistent in getting that to make sure my girls were taken care of.” Though Jessica is new to owning her own business, she knew that taking care of the little she had was important. When she first saw the current space, which is nestled in the quaint Rice Village, a year ago, she didn’t like it, but now it’s exactly the way she wanted it. That same love she has for her fashion house is carried on throughout all of her business decisions. 

“Being a good boss is making sure your employees are taken care of before your own needs. When I got that approval for the payroll protection loan, it lifted a lot of weight off me. I knew my girls were going to be okay and will still get paid what they are used to.” There is still so much more work to be done. Jessica will soon be launching her most creative business endeavor yet as soon as the pandemic is over. “I want to create a monthly package where ladies can pick 5 pieces every month for $100. I also want to have pop-up shops in big cities like Miami, New York, and Dallas to test the market out. Then I want to expand across the US.” To be a female business owner in this current day and age, you have to be tough to know how and when to be prepared to withstand whatever trial, or in this case pandemic, may come your way. That is a skill Jessica learning and is sure to overcome.  

Feature photo is by Al Torres.

Sylvina Bravo (@thesylvii)

Director of Lifestyle and Fashion Editor

SHE Magazine USA

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