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Meet 2017 Forward Under 40 Award Recipient Stacy Igel ’99

Meet 2017 Forward under 40 Award recipient Stacy Igel ’99.

Stacy Igel ’99

UW Major: Retailing with Certificate in Business
Age: 39 | New York City
Founder And Creative Director, Boy Meets Girl

Fashion designer Stacy Morgenstern Igel walks the catwalk with Wisconsin on her mind.

“The School of Human Ecology was one of the few programs in the country that would allow me to pursue my passion for fashion and entrepreneurship while still obtaining a well-rounded education.”

She finds inspiration for her contemporary fashion line, Boy Meets Girl, in New York City’s art and music scenes. Since she founded the line in 2001, her designs have gained a celebrity following and gone international — from Nordstrom to New York Fashion Week to Colette in Paris to international expansion.

Igel also often collaborates with fellow artists and retailers for good causes. In recent years, sales of her apparel and accessories have supported breast-cancer survivors and backed anti-bullying campaigns.

Igel draws on her UW education to power the business behind her brand. She arrived at the UW with a well-developed entrepreneurial spirit — she recalls that by age four, she was already staging fashion shows in the school cafeteria for her preschool peers — and her UW studies in retailing, merchandising, design, and business took her to a new level.

“The School of Human Ecology was one of the few programs in the country that would allow me to pursue my passion for fashion and entrepreneurship while still obtaining a well-rounded education, and I was grateful that I could also earn a business certificate from the School of Business, too,” Igel says.

She infuses her Wisconsin experience in the generous mentorship that she offers the fashion community’s newest generation. She launched Boy Meets Girl University, which immerses students in the creative and business aspects of the fashion world, and she makes extra time to welcome Badgers to her New York City offices.

“I tell all the students I speak to that only about 10 percent of my time is spent actually designing,” she says. “The rest is all about business building.”

And she tells them about her own memorable senior thesis when she live streamed the runway show of her first full collection — a truly unforgettable Badger experience.

“I am reminded of that first show each and every time I walk the runway at the end of one of my shows,” she says. “Those feelings of exhilaration and pride wash over me again, just like the first time.”

Q&A with Stacy

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My parents have given me a good deal of advice over the years. Two things that stick out in my mind are: Dad: “Keep Moving!” Mom (UW alum): “In order to run your own design business, you are going to have to learn much more than simply how to make a pair of shorts or a dress.” I’ve always been a worker, just like both of my parents, who each had their own businesses. Work ethic is a learned trait, I think.

What are you reading now?

Well, I have a two-year-old, but…. I have a great book resting on my nightstand—The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington (in which Dr. Erin Hanlon, my good friend and a former UW grad student, is quoted for her sleep research). I read WWD (Women’s Wear Daily) every day, and have since college. It is my bible to what is happening in the fashion industry, and every so often, I’m covered in it too.

What five items would you take to a desert island?

  1. My son Dylan
  2. My husband
  3. Fiji water
  4. My iPhone (does this island have Wi-Fi???)
  5. A solar-powered jet pack

What is the one thing every UW student must do?

Pick a sunny day and hang out at the union for the entire day with beers and good friends.

What advice would you offer to graduating seniors?

There are a lot of amazingly talented people in this world. While you may not always be the most creative or brilliant person in the room, you can be the hardest working and most dedicated — that is something that is totally within your own control. By working really, really hard, my bosses took notice at my earlier jobs and my employees take notice now. It's leadership by example, and I think it fosters loyalty and camaraderie.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Just one? How about three: vintage shopping, Doritos, and shoessssssss.

What was your first job?

I was in sixth grade. I worked at the Gap as a sales girl. I still have the Employee of the Month certificate proudly taped to my bedroom wall at my childhood home!

If you could trade places with any person for a week, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be?

Steve Jobs.

What is your favorite quote?

Bob Dylan: “A person is a success if they get up in the morning and get to bed at night and in between does what they want to do.” I believe that this is true, and it is exactly what I live by.

Who are your inspirations in terms of life, fashion, business, etc?

I draw inspiration from a variety of eclectic influences: vintage clothing, the vibrant New York art and music scenes, Hollywood glamorati, etc. As far as business mentors/role models goes, there’s Elie Tahari, Zandra Rhodes, and Elsa Klensch, all of whom I’ve worked for and all of whom were hard workers in their own right even after they’d “made it.” That was an eye-opener for me. I was smart enough to recognize that the hard workers were usually the individuals who got the big opportunities in life. They were also the ones who were prepared to capitalize on those opportunities. Stylistically, I’m going to give you my holy trinity of influences. First, Coco Chanel, who famously said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” I agree. I think that’s why I am so happy working as hard as I do. Second, Kate Moss. Of course she’s a beautiful and confident woman, but what I love about her is the way she effortlessly transitions from eclectic vintage to high fashion. She never looks like she’s trying to put an outfit together — everything looks like it just naturally belongs on her body. Third, Patti Smith. She’s stayed true to her edgy stylishness since the 70s. She’s unflappable.

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