Friends for more than 20 years, graduates Jack Miner ’07 and Lily Miesmer ’07 are embarking on their first major creative adventure together. With their new womenswear collection, Interior, they hope to offer “a nuanced and idiosyncratic approach to daily dressing,” according to the Interior website.
Miesmer and Miner launched their brand in 2020, a year now-notorious for instilling uncertainty. Yet instead of waiting it out, they discovered ways to take the difficulties of COVID — the isolation of being in lockdown, the abandonment of regular routines, the financial chaos — and turn them into opportunities.
“It created this white space where I could ask myself important questions: ‘What do I want to do, ultimately, and how is what I’m doing laddering up to that? And am I creatively fulfilled?’” Miesmer theorized. “I think it allowed a lot of people who were entrepreneurial in spirit to have a moment where they decided, ‘I’m just gonna shoot my shot.’”
Miner added that the circumstances surrounding a COVID landscape promoted a completely new way for the two of them to collaborate.
“The one silver lining [of COVID] is that it gave us this opportunity to explore this new facet of our relationship as business partners and that’s been really fulfilling and sort of natural and easy as a result of our foundation,” he said.
The two met when Miner came to GFA in 2002. Though they had many common interests, it wasn’t an instant connection. Miesmer laughed, “We were not sure of each other because we were too similar.”
Soon enough, however, caution gave way to camaraderie as they discovered that they “spoke the same language.” While they were in high school they were never “two kids sketching clothing,” but they admired the same authors, filmmakers, historical figures, and designers. In each other they discovered a true soulmate.
As with any long-term friendship, there are communication ebbs and flows over time. Yet through their college years, internships and other ventures in the fashion industry, relationships, moves, and other important life-changes, the door to their friendship has always remained open; they still speak the same language.
“It’s that DNA of a shared aesthetic vernacular that has culminated into this brand,” Miesmer said.
The fact that Miner and Miesmer are co-creative directors at Interior is at the heart of their brand’s identity. However, they divvy up duties that align with their individual strengths. Miner interned at Calvin Klein before learning the ropes from fashion venture capitalist Chris Burch. Miner later launched his own menswear brand, Hecho, from Mexico City. In 2018 he moved back to the States to handle finance and operations for his friend’s company, Bode. At Interior, he serves as the company’s CEO.
“Having worked in the industry for the duration of my career, I’m able to navigate the business along a healthy path, so I’m happy managing the logistics and then also having creative agency in overseeing how it all coalesces,” Miner said.
As Chief Brand Officer, Miesmer, whose background is in marketing, handles the product, brand-positioning and e-commerce channel. Long before launching Interior, she interned at Vogue and wrote for T: The New York Times Style Magazine. She moved on to consult for a number of direct-to-consumer startups, but never lost touch with — or her love for — fashion.
Her areas of expertise gave Miner the confidence he needed to dive into a womenswear brand. He explained, “I felt safe with Lily as my partner and co-creative director because she’s a woman and because she’s an adept, savvy consumer herself. She is very aware of the market … it is important that she heads up decision-making around products, specifically.”
The fact that Interior is a direct-to-consumer enterprise might actually be an asset in a post-COVID world.
“COVID is changing the face of the industry in that it’s continuing the momentum of something that was already set in motion,” Miesmer explained. “Direct-to-consumer channels are now super emphasized and that was always my gut about the industry. … I think it is important for any business that’s going to survive COVID. That was our mutual vision for the brand: having a strong direct-to-consumer channel.”
In the last year, the fashion industry has also seen a burst of creativity brought about by constraints of in-person events. For example, massive and expensive fashion shows have given way to high-concept short films, and retailers are more intentional about the quantities they are producing and the way that clothing is being produced.
“The fashion space has become more egalitarian because now anyone anywhere in the country can have a front-row seat. There’s less emphasis on the elitism of the front row of a fashion show, so that’s been really cool. It’s bred innovation and more equality,” Miesmer described.
According to Miner, the events of the past year have also had an important influence on their connection with customers.
“I think people really are craving specialness and meaning with what they’re purchasing now, as a result of COVID. [They want] things that have an emotional resonance,” he said. “This idea of creating something that feels like it’s special and emotionally resonant connects us with the customer on a deeper level.”
To experience Interior, visit them online: interior.nyc
Looking Back on “The Farm”
Lily Miesmer ’07
GFA Lifer (1995–2007)
Lives in: Manhattan
Jack Miner ’07
Joined GFA in eighth grade (2002–2007)
Lives in: Brooklyn Heights
Some favorite GFA teachers
Lisa Cissel, John Cissel, Bob Guffin, Jeffrey Morrison, Kate Morrison, Elizabeth Cleary, Amy Schwartz, OJ Burns, Nancy McTague-Stock, Ian Campbell (Miesmer: “Ian Campbell LOVES fashion. He and I would always talk about clothes.”)
Reflections on their GFA experience
Miesmer: “GFA was amazing. That’s really what sticks out to me. The quality of the teachers and how much they emphasized writing. It’s so important to be able to communicate that way.”
Miner: “GFA afforded us a lot of freedom as very young adults — for better or worse — and I cherish that. ... It was at the time (and I hope that it still is) a fairly liberal-minded community, and one that was patient and kind. It felt very safe in hindsight.”
What would their former teachers and classmates be surprised to know about them now?
Miner: “I don’t think they would be surprised to know that we are still as close as we are.”
Miesmer: “Or that we started a brand together.”
Words of advice to current students
Miesmer: “At GFA, do what you’re inclined to do, and don’t be discouraged if you aren’t, say, the top student in a certain class. You can’t compare yourself to other students because you don’t know what they are going through or what motivates them.”
Miner: “So often we feel the need to categorize things in such a polarized way in order to understand them: everything has to either be a success or a failure. But actually, neither of those things exist. A perceived failure is just an opportunity for learning. The only time that opportunities for learning become painful is when we have to learn the same lesson over and over again. I would hope that the kids who are in school at GFA know that the world isn’t the polarized place that we tend to make it out to be.”