Joey Wölffer has become an icon in the Hamptons for her fashion brand, her role in the operations of the family vineyard Wölffer Estate, and overall integrating herself fully with the community on the East End.
She has been part of many endeavors from her work starting the Styleliner Truck and evolving into a full-blown fashion boutique with physical locations, her integral role with Wölffer Estate Vineyard, which is deeply rooted in her family’s history, Wölffer Estate Stables, the Wine Stand, and all things Hamptons.
Joey spoke more about her background, what led to her creation of the brand, and how her environment and location growing up on the East End has inspired and influenced her along the way.
What is the Joey Wölffer brand all about?
JW: We’re about being authentic! We don’t buy deeply into collections because we want people to feel special in the pieces they find. Many of the designers in our store are unique and even the more well-known designers are not highly distributed. We want our customers to feel that they too have discovered something new! We incorporate vintage along with our own collection as well as other collections. There is nothing more gratifying than having a customer leave feeling good about herself and having discovered something really unique and special!
How did you get your start in the industry? Can you talk a bit about your background?
JW: I graduated from Vanderbilt in 2004 and had no clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Wanting to live abroad and escape a bad boyfriend, I decided to live in London where my mother is from. I got an internship with a family friend at her jewelry company where I worked three days a week and within a month, she had fired her designer and hired me full time. It was such a fun job that allowed me to work with different brands like Topshop, Jigsaw, Miss Selfridge, and Urban Outfitters to create special jewelry lines for their stores. Not long after, I moved back to NYC to do more design, production and merchandising for a company called Accessory Network. After that I worked as a jewelry designer for the Jones Group, specifically Nine West, where I learned the ins and outs of the corporate fashion world!
What led you to pursuing the launch of your fashion brand?
JW: I was never meant for the corporate world. My father was always an entrepreneur and I loved his ability to create something out of nothing. I started the Styleliner in 2010 because I wanted something of my own. My vision and my love for finds & fashion in a way no one else had done before. The truck concept came to me, and I knew I had to pursue it. From the Styleliner came our shop and then our Reworked by Joey Wölffer line of upcycled garments. The fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to waste in landfills and I knew I had to do something (even small) about it. All our designs are made up of upcycled fabrics and produced by hand in NYC. We really work hard to find sustainable and ethical brands to work with as well.
Can you discuss how the brand has grown over the years from beginning as the Styleliner Truck to where it is now?
JW: The brand is ever evolving. After years of being on the road in the Styleliner, I was pregnant and really wanted a place in my hometown, Sag Harbor. We opened our first space in Sabina Streeter’s studio on Madison Street, and just recently moved into our third Sag Harbor location. The growth and evolution of the brand is thanks to my amazing team & loyal, loving customers who make this all possible.
What sets Joey Wölffer apart from other fashion brands, and furthermore, from other fashion brands in the Hamptons?
JW: What sets us apart is our ability to be exactly who we are. We don’t stray away from what we as individuals love and you can see it in all the pieces we curate for the customer. As a brand we are constantly evolving and changing as I evolve and change. We constantly pivot in small ways while still staying true to who I am as a person. We strive for individuality and want our customers to leave feeling exactly like themselves and not trendy.
Do you have a favorite type of clothing, jewelry, or accessories to create and/or wear?
JW: I like mixing old with new and higher end with low end pieces. I don’t follow trends. I feel best in colorful prints and bold jewelry!
How does your experience with the fashion brand differ from that of the vineyard and your other operations?
JW: My experience with the fashion brand is actually quite distinct from my involvement in the vineyard. While the vineyard is deeply rooted in my family’s tradition and my father’s legacy, my fashion career allowed me to explore my very own creative and entrepreneurial side. The Styleliner, a mobile fashion boutique, involved curating a unique collection of global fashion and accessories, creating a distinct brand image, and embracing a nomadic retail concept. I like that my work in fashion and the creative field allows me to bring my knowledge of trends and the luxury market to my role as the Chief Brand Officer at Wölffer!
How do you juggle your responsibilities with the Wölffer Estate Vineyard and the Joey Wölffer brand, along with all your other endeavors?
JW: I’ve always said that I’m at my best when I’m doing the most. My days are busy and sometimes chaotic, but I like it that way! I tend to thrive in chaos and always find a way to make it work.
What is the most rewarding aspect about your work in any field? Do you have a favorite accomplishment to-date?
JW: I love working with my teams in all my businesses. I see how much progress and success comes from great teamwork. I am more inspired and tend to have better ideas because of the people around me. I think Summer in a Bottle is one of my favorite accomplishments that WE at Wölffer have achieved. It really put this winery on a map, a dream that my father couldn’t have even imagined would come true. I am proud of building my truck. I have never worked harder in my life, BUT I learned so much during those years and it has given me the work ethic that I have now!
What are your favorite pastimes on the East End?
JW: I feel so lucky to live here and be a part of this community. My favorite things to do: go to the beach with my family, ride at Wölffer Estate Stables, go to the Wine Stand, weekend museum outings at the Parrish, and dinners with friends at home!
Does your location influence your designs or concepts?
JW: Yes, of course! The Hamptons, as you know, is one of a kind. A place where you can go to dinner in your sarong or heels and still feel comfortable. We love pieces that are wearable but comfortable and multi purpose. For example, our classic reworked dresses are 100% deadstock cottons. You can throw it over your swimsuit and run errands or add a wedged shoe and wear it out to dinner. We’re influenced by the creative spirit the Hamptons has and all the amazing artists and creatives we’re surrounded by.
To learn more about Joey Wölffer and her brand and endeavors, visit Joeywolffer.com.