( ENSPIRE Interview ) QVC Designer Renée Greenstein’s Women With Control® and Attitudes by Renée® Celebrates Women of All Shapes and Sizes
ENSPIRE Contributor: Michelle Bolden
Founder and designer Renée Greenstein finds great success with her two fashion lines Women With Control® and Attitudes by Renée®. Featured on QVC U.S.A. and U.K., Greenstein has been able to bring fashionable clothing to women all across the world. What she once lacked informal experience in the garment industry, she made up for in grit and inspiration.
Greenstein had an unconventional upbringing as a Black Jewish woman. Always fascinated by various religions and belief systems, she found herself at a predominantly White Catholic college studying theology. However, it was her love of fashion that nudged her to leave college and head to New York City to pursue a different path.
RG: It was my desire to be surrounded by the immense talent, spread my wings, and the “fever,” NYC, that has enveloped me. As we know, NYC is the city that never sleeps, and neither do I, so it was a perfect fit. I was fortunate enough to be afforded the opportunity to model, one of my first jobs was with a Furrier in NYC. It was there that I honed my skills of selling, which led me to other opportunities. The salesman after a period of time ultimately ended up asking me questions regarding the clothing. How did it fit, what would I do differently, about the drape of the fabrics used, etc? I learned and listened, and was it easy all of the time, no it wasn’t, however the desire to create was.
As Greenstein gained more experience in fashion, she began to notice a hole in the industry; an entire segment of women with incredible buying power being overlooked. She found that there were not many fashionable clothes to fit women past size small.
RG: I found this incredulous and knew that I could do it better by giving women inclusive, affordable, comfortable clothing that 1) was fashionable 2) fit properly 3) did not require extra undergarments. My best education was learning the way fabrics were made, the different types of yarns that existed, what would drape better, hold its shape longer, and would rebound back after washing. I knew I wanted fabric for pants that was a cotton/spandex blend that did not shine and would hold its color and be affordable. This took me a few years however patience is a virtue.
My line is based on inclusivity way before that word became a buzzword that we know of it today in 2021. I knew women wanted to look and feel good no matter what their size, whether it be an XXS or 5XLG. Their desire to be fashionable along with comfort is essential. It is vital in the industry to be diverse to survive. I have always catered to women of all sizes and ethnicities. That was never a question when I set and created my fashions. My goal was and is to make women feel fabulous.
Though Greenstein was brave enough to take a chance and set out on her path to bring her artistic vision to life, she admits that she was at times doubtful. However, she realized doubt comes with the territory when breaking barriers and creating new spaces for herself and others.
RG: Was there ever a time I doubted myself? Yes, of course, I did! But if you don’t, it means you’re not stepping out of the box to create something new. There were many times of frustration, however, when you want something, you have to go with your gut. In a man’s world, I stood out being a Jewish woman of color. I had to work harder to prove myself, I quickly absorbed every ounce of the business I could to make sure that I was better than the next person. Secondly, I was assertive, I knew what I wanted and probably intimidated many of them so they were taken back by me at times, but in the end, respected my hard work and the desire to succeed. I’m also not one who takes no for an answer, so I made sure I found a way to make it happen, and create excitement as I built my collections.
Greenstein’s line Women With Control has a special place in her heart as she designed it around her lifestyle and deep admiration for women.
RG: We are Women With Control and if we set out to do something we can. Women inspire me, how they carry themselves, talk, how they style their own clothing that says, “Hey this is Me!.” I was always traveling, working, and wanted clothes that I could easily pack (I never check luggage) and no matter what I threw on, feel great. In my mind, I knew that if I felt that way so many women could also feel the same way. The world is a big beautiful wondrous place and if you allow yourself to take just one moment to just stop, take a breath, absorb what is around you trust me you too will be inspired.
Through her fashion, Greenstein has been able to build up a large following which she affectionately calls her “Wardrobe Warriors.” It’s a close-knit group built on the foundation of support and encouragement.
RG: If there is one thing I can pass onto the next women-owned business, is that your customers no matter what is the life of your business. I am very fortunate to have a group of women (Wardrobe Warriors) that continue to inspire me every day. The women in the group are like family to us, many we know on a personal level, their children, grandchildren, husbands, etc. These beautiful, vibrant women know that we are all in this together. It is such an honor to have been able to create collections that resonate and have them love what I create and believe me if they don’t they let me know.
Although the Pandemic has changed the way everyday life looks for many people, Greenstein says it has not gotten the best of her and her business.
RG: We have had to adjust the business to be able to communicate and create remotely, which I might add can be challenging at times. This as you can imagine is a huge adjustment, being in fashion, I always want to be able to touch, try on, spread out illustrations with my team in our N.Y. studio. Instead, for the time being, we have become experts on Zoom calls, with the occasional turn on your mike which adds levity to our meetings.
We’ve all had to learn a new dance, and it has been difficult at times, I cannot deny that however, we are all working together to continue to bring the best product to our ladies. My shows also went to Skype which was new for all of us and this brought a new and different energy to our shows. Of course, I miss being at QVC with the hosts and our models, and I cannot stress how QVC has done such an amazing job helping us to bring everyone all together.
When she is not working on her fashion lines, Greenstein deeply enjoys being a wife, mother, and grandmother to her grandchildren. She splits most of her free time between her Florida and NYC residences. Please view her collections here.