July 28, 2023
By Michael Chaiken, Republican-American
Sara Annapolen’s interest in fashion started at an early age.
Annapolen, the founder and designer for Shop Sara Joy, said, “Honestly…. since
I was younger, I always was interested in fashion. I was always going through my grandmother’s old clothes, finding treasures that people didn’t want, styling them. I was always into vintage shop- ping. You know, wearing my mom’s clothes.”
The Cheshire native, who now lives in Westchester County, N.Y., said, “Fashion has always been a self-ex- pression thing for me. It was a way I could stand out in in school and really represent myself as somebody who’s creative.” Annapolen added, “I’m an artist. I’ve always been an artist… I was always coloring with markers.... Fashion was just another form of art for me really.”
After high school, Annapolen studied fashion design in college. “I always took art classes in public school and private classes when I was younger,” she said. But, despite her interest in art, when she applied to Syracuse University, she started as a fashion design major.
“The first year I took a lot of sewing classes and introductory classes,” she said.
When her sophomore year arrived, she changed her major to surface pattern design.
“(It was) a focus on print design and your fabric,” Annapolen said. “In that major, you could either study fashion or home furnishings. And I went the fashion route.”
Annapolen said she liked surface pattern design because she loved 2D art. “I don’t really like 3D. I don’t like ceramics or constructing models of things… And I loved computer graphics. I love technology, I love computers. I love software programs. I love designing. So (the major) was kind of a way where I could merge actual paintings, paper, collages, things I’ve made by hand, and then scan them and work on digital editing.”
Shop Sara Joy sells resortwear, which is considered clothing worn on vacation.
“I call it ‘Endless Summer,’” said Annapolen. “Everything is lightweight, so, everything feels good on your body when it’s really hot outside…. Everything is meant to be easy to wear and something that you don’t have to worry too much about. There’s no zippers; there’s no linings. It really is meant for vacation or high summer temperatures.”
THE CLOTHING ANNAPOLEN SELLS is the same type she would wear herself.
“The prints — and the overall collection — reflect my personal style,” said the Cheshire native. “I love color and I think the beach is a great place to wear the most color… I know people who are lawyers who can’t wear as much color as they do when they’re on vacation. It’s a chance to express yourselves.”
She added, “Another part of my personal style is being really comfortable…. but I don’t think you should have to sacrifice how great you look…. When you look good and you feel good in what you’re wearing, then you’re in a good mood and you exude more confidence.”
Being a small business owner like herself is hard, Annapolen said. One of the biggest challenges was “figuring out how and where to spend money in the right ways.” Another challenge was being a business owner while being a mother, she said. She has two children so her time for work was minimal.
Although the fashion industry has historically been a man’s business, Annapolen said being a woman in the field is not the challenge it used to be. “I think in this day and age, women are so supportive of other women. I have joined a
lot of networking groups and have had some amazing opportunities to meet other female founders, female investors, female owners who are willing to share advice and help.”
Annapolen said there’s nothing negative about being a female business owner in
fashion. “It feels great. It feels empowering.”