By Mikki Collier • May 10, 2010•Writers in Residence
Since beginning this journey of trying to introduce my sisters-in-law to the idea of incorporating a little bit of fashion into their otherwise functional work wardrobes, the biggest objection I’ve received relates to time. “I want to present a more polished, stylish image,” says some of my colleagues (who shall momentarily remain nameless), “but I simply do not have the time. I’m too busy working to worry about my wardrobe.” As a busy attorney myself, I understand that the demands of the profession leave little time for something as seemingly unimportant as how we are dressed. Before you throw your hands up and subscribe to this type of thinking, I’d like you to meet Jennaydra Clunis, a successful attorney and double entrepreneur who effortlessly balances three (yes three!!) demanding careers all while maintaining a look that is sharp, chic and refined. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Jennaydra about her careers and the importance of projecting a polished image. Here’s what she had to say:
Couture-At-Law: What type of law do you practice and how long have you been practicing? What is the nature of your firm’s environment?
Jennaydra: I have been practicing law since 2004. My specialty is employment discrimination litigation. Luckily, my firm's policy is business casual when we are in the office. So I have freedom in my appearance when I am not in court. I typically wear pants or jeans to the office. However, I am in court often, so I dress conservatively with suits.
Couture-At-Law: You also run a successful real estate company -tell me more about this venture.
Jennaydra: I own The Diamond Realty Group, Inc. with my business partner Kristen Stevens. We've had the company since 2006. Kristen was my realtor when I purchased my home. We worked so well together, that we decided to start our own business. We work with first-time home buyers who are interested in purchasing in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Rockland/Westchester Counties. Kristen and I both have businesses other than The Diamond Realty Group, Inc. and we support/work with each other in those businesses too.
Couture-At-Law: Recently, you launched LoNoLi, an upscale matchmaking firm geared toward the busy professional. What inspired you to want to make love connections for the professional set?
Jennaydra: LoNoLi is a dating service for busy professionals. Not only do we focus on introducing our clients to new people, but we also prepare a personalized roadmap to dating. It is a psychosocial analysis which focuses on our client's past relationships and future expectations. This sets our company apart from other companies. We are non-judgmental and encourage our clients to talk to us so we can identify what dating strategies work for that person. After the assessment, we introduce our clients to new people who have the same relationship goals. This makes it easier for our clients to date without wondering whether the other person wants the same thing in a relationship.
Couture-At-Law: How would you describe your professional style and how it relates to each of your careers?
Jennaydra: My professional and weekend style directly relate to my businesses. Every interaction is an opportunity to meet a new client or a referral. The only way for people to understand that I am serious about my business is to dress the part at all times. I want my look to convey that I am professional, approachable, and organized.
Couture-At-Law: You work in three very different industries, how do you manage to transition your looks from the law office, to showing homes, to hosting networking events and media appearances all in the same day?
Jennaydra: The key is to make sure that my foundation pieces are versatile. I love wrap dresses because I can wear a jacket over them when I am in court or showing properties. Then I can take off my jacket to host events and make media appearances. Also my accessories are the key to transitioning my outfits from one event to another. Shoes, jewelry, makeup, and even my hairstyle can totally change an outfit from professional to a night out!
Couture-At-Law: Speaking of media appearances, you were the official matchmaker on VH1’s new hit series, “Let’s Talk About Pep.” While watching the show, I couldn't help but notice how fabulous and pulled together you looked - did you have a stylist or did you style yourself?
Jennaydra: Thank you! I styled myself for that appearance. There is a story behind that dress. I initially used it for our first Pre-Valentine's Day Lock and Key Party. Kristen helped me getting everything from my house to the venue. While we were unpacking Kristen's car, she asked me where was my dress. With less than two hours to the event, I realized that I did not pack it. Luckily there was a BCBG store around the corner from the venue. I literally ran around the corner to get a dress. Thankfully, I packed my multi-colored Miu Miu sequined shoes so I could wear any color dress with them. The pink dress was a perfect choice.
Couture-At-Law: You also appeared on TLC’s “What Not to Wear”. Prior to being on the show, how would you describe professional style and routine for getting ready for work?
Jennaydra Clunis: I enjoyed my experience on WNTW. Before the show, I wasn't big into patterns and accessories. I put fashion on the backburner because of my businesses. All of my time and financial resources go into the businesses so I can build them. The show helped me to see that I need to make time for fashion because it is an investment into my companies. Because my daily commute is about two hours each way, it is important for me to pull an outfit together quickly. My routine requires me to not put much thought into my outfits. Each piece must be interchangeable and work together.
Couture-At-Law: What did WNTW teach you about your personal style? What changes have you made since appearing on the show?
Jennaydra Clunis: During the show, I learned that I should trust my personal style and not get so caught up in "rules." Since the show, I'm more open to patterns and I prefer to wear dresses now. The best advice that I received from hosts Clinton Kelly and Stacy London was to focus on fit and cut. Part of fit is not worrying about the size that I buy. I can always get the item adjusted to fit me. This is why I get everything tailored now. I found a great tailor from the show, so now things fit me so much better. The best part of being on the show was learning how to shop and what to look for in the pieces that I buy. It is an experience that everyone should go through. Unless you work for a clothing store or go to fashion school, many people are not taught about clothing, fit and style. I think there should be a class on how to dress for everyone.
Couture-At-Law: So, what's a typical day the life of Jennaydra?
Jennaydra: During the day, I am a lawyer and focus on my cases. In the evenings and on weekends, I alternate between LoNoLi and The Diamond Realty Group, Inc. For my businesses, I am either working with clients or looking for new clients. Also, I go to a lot of networking events to meet new contacts.
Couture-At-Law: How do you find the time to manage your careers and yet look stylish doing so?
Jennaydra: I believe in keeping things simple. I don't want to stress myself out with fashion. Fashion is fun. I want to enjoy it and incorporate it into my career. So I take time at least once a week to think about my look and find pieces to incorporate into my wardrobe. I also make it into "me" time. I tend to always find time for work, but no time for myself. I use my time for fashion to focus on myself and create balance.
Couture-At-Law: Some women claim to not have the time to put into looking stylish, polished and professional for work. Considering your busy schedule, what would you say to those women?
Jennaydra: It is hard, but it is important to make the time to shop. I'm so busy and when I have free time the last thing that I want to do is to shop. But it is so important to make time to shop. The reason why it is important is because you want to feel and look professional. Appearance does impact your career. I suggest trying different items to see how they look on you. Also, the more you shop, the easier it will be to find stores which flatter your figure. Once you get a sense of what to look for and where to shop, it will be easier to pull together a stylish and polished look.
Couture-At-Law: Last words - any advice to the readers?
Jennaydra: We tend to think our work ethic and intelligence will be sufficient to achieve success. But society sees our external before our internal. Make sure your appearance conveys what you have to offer so people will want to hear what you possess inside.
If you are interested in learning more about Jennaydra Clunis and her upscale matching firm, LoNoLi, visit www.LoNoLi.com.