Startup Stories: Puzzle Apparel

How Puzzle Apparel Works

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
Puzzle Apparel offers fashion you can design yourself using handmade materials by American artists.

With the maker movement going strong across the US and around the world, the tools are finally available for anyone to be a designer or maker. Puzzle Apparel uses an ecommerce platform to invite you to be both.

Puzzle Apparel lets you be your own fashion designer and create your own one-of-a-kind looks.

Check out our launch at Indiegogo to see our products (offered at a great discount):

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
I have spent the last seven years searching for ways to make fashion production create positive social and economic impacts. I designed for major fashion brands in New York City with leading sustainability programs, and worked with artisans in Ethiopia and India, seeking ways to bring major industry together with the small scale and beautiful craftsmanship of handmade artisan work.

For the last two years I sought ways to tie my fashion design experience with international development and social enterprise through a masters program at Johns Hopkins in Washington, DC. And I kept hearing from people in the US, “Why do you have to go half way around the world to make a difference, when people right here need jobs, income, and support?”

I got the message. I started talking to fabric artists in the US, which led to the development of the Puzzle Apparel concept: bring handmade artistic materials to fashion customers by creating customizable clothing designs.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
Looking for ways to stand out in your career? What about express yourself through your style? Our customers get the chance to define their own style and develop clothing designs for themselves that reflect their personality, lifestyle, and aspirations. With Puzzle Apparel you can dress for success – as defined by you.

Plus you get to support an amazing group of artists from around the US. These artists are women who weave, paint, dye, and print on fabric as their livelihoods. Each purchase gives them another opportunity to support themselves while creating beautiful, useful, exciting artwork.

We sell direct to you to cut out the costs of middlemen so you get the best possible price for our clothes. And our clothes are designed for lifetime, with classic styles that will last and fabrics that won’t break down. Our first collection is made from silk, the most durable natural fiber, which also has great tech-type properties like moisture wicking and temperature regulation to keep you comfortable every day!

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
I hate to admit this, but insecurity has been my biggest challenge. I have a lot of experience, know lots of people, and realize I should be able to trust my instincts, my analysis, and my research. Yet I also find myself constantly second-guessing myself or being harshly critical of my work. That self-inflicted negativity could hold me back more than any other hurdle, so I’ve been working on letting it go. It’s OK to make mistakes – we all do it! We just have to learn and move forward when we do.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
Project Eve has given me a place to feel connected to other women business owners. I’ve gotten a lot of advice from Eve articles. Plus we are participating in Project Eve’s “Shop the Movement” through our Indiegogo campaign (

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
The fashion industry is no longer about following trends – today, it’s all about yourself. There’s no reason to settle for unsustainable or mass-produced garments. The Internet has unleashed lots of small, socially conscious brands that make great things. Puzzle Apparel is part of this trend and is taking limited edition, socially conscious style to a whole new level.

Company: Puzzle Apparel


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