Designer turns grief into pajama business

Designer turns grief into pajama business

Lauren Raja, the founding father of Justin Jean Pajamas, wears the ruffled bottomed PJs she designed. They’re are the featured nightwear on the annual White Canine pajama brunch.
(Picture: Jose F. Moreno / TNS)

Three years in the past Lauren Raja’s husband, Justin, died unexpectedly whereas the younger couple was on trip in Greece.
“For months I lived in my unhappy, grey pajamas and sweats,” Raja stated.
Lately, Raja has traded in her melancholy jammies for silky sleepwear splashed with polka dots and stripes, full with a ruffle sewn throughout the tush, that she designs in her condo. She named the gathering of ladies’s and younger woman’s nighty-night style line Justin Jean Pajamas, after her husband and grandmother, two folks she liked very a lot.
“It’s my manner of remembering individuals who meant a lot to me,” stated Raja.
And it’s beginning to get some buzz.
In somewhat over a yr, Raja has bought greater than 1,600 pairs of the sleepwear, by way of her web site, justinjeanpjs.com. Raja affords three kinds of jammies for ladies ($41-49.50): a onesie (with ft), and two-piece kinds with lengthy pants and capris. There are 4 designs for girls ($67-$76): lengthy pants, capris, a nightshirt (Raja says males are shopping for them for his or her wives and girlfriends), and a pair of ruffled shorts. Each design options the three-tiered ruffle. Therefore the hashtag: rocktheruffles.
Every pair of PJs is available in a transparent zip-up make-up bag with a hand-crafted scrunchie.
Certainly one of Raja’s followers is Actual Housewives of New Jersey’s Teresa Giudice. She’s touted Justin Jean as certainly one of her and her daughter’s favourite cozy sleepy-time choices.

New York movie star dermatologist Whitney Bowe wears them whereas enjoyable in mattress, and native ABC reporter/anchor Erin O’Hearn and her daughter have matching pairs. Even movie star blogger Perez Hilton’s 2-year-old daughter, Mia, rocks the ruffle.
And Justin Jean would be the featured sleepwear on the White Canine Cafe’s 30th annual New 12 months’s Day Pajama Brunch, throughout which she is going to donate 15 p.c of all proceeds from on-line orders to Alpha Bravo Canine. That is the primary time one pajama model has labored so carefully with the restaurant. (Though, no stress. In case you put on your Goal specials, that’s cool, too).
The native love comes simply as we enter the winter season, with its combine of contemporary and old-school traditions: gift-givin’, brunchin’, Netflixin’, and, nicely, lounging all day, on vacay in our PJs.

“After we put on pajamas, our masks are off,” Raja, 36, stated. “It’s a time if you end up at you realest, you’re laid again, and you’re virtually at all times surrounded by family and friends. Pajamas assist us make these reminiscences.”
It simply so occurred that 2017 was the yr of pajamas, in line with NPD Group chief trade analyst Marshal Cohen. We donned sleepwear for far more than getting somewhat shut-eye. I don’t learn about you, however the second I stroll within the door — whether or not it’s 2 within the afternoon, or 2 within the morning — I can’t get into my PJs quick sufficient.
That sentiment carried into avenue put on. This yr’s trendiest tops, whether or not noticed in thrift shops or in mall specialty retailers like J.Crew and Eternally 21, have been normal to appear to be classic, striped pajamas, piping and all.
After which there are the plaid, drawstring PJs quickly turned the hallmark of the Christmas season as households posed in dishevelled flannel two-pieces.
In 2013, a yr earlier than her husband died, Raja requested Justin for a stitching machine. On the time, she was serious about the grandmother who’d raised her, “Mama” Jean Falo, a South Philly-bred homemaker and avid seamstress who died earlier that yr at 80.
Raja’s husband, vice chairman at a financial institution, purchased her the machine. However Raja, who was working as a center faculty math instructor, couldn’t discover the time to stitch.
The next October, the couple went to Greece for a marriage and determined to take a day journey on a catamaran. Raja was upstairs on the boat. Justin took a dive into the water. When Raja got here downstairs, she says she noticed a buddy dragging her husband out of the water and giving him CPR. Justin by no means wakened.
Raja got here again house and buried her husband on her birthday. She felt misplaced. She stop educating. She spent her days in her condo in complete darkness, mourning.
At some point, she noticed the stitching machine within the nook and thought to herself, “What would Mama Jean do?”
Slowly, she began sketching. She’d by no means taken a stitching class, however she began making “wacky” issues: a bathe cap with removable fleece lining; a leather-based flower that she deliberate to promote on Etsy, however that price manner an excessive amount of to duplicate. She made a summer season gown. However the world didn’t want any extra gown designers, did it?
Then she had a thought: Justin liked polka dots, particularly on fancy socks. And when Raja considered Mama Jean, her thoughts’s eye took her to the ruffled knickers of her childhood. How may these objects work collectively? Pajamas, maybe?
Raja designed a pattern. The primary pair have been multicolored dots in the identical colours you may discover on a Tornado board. Three rows of ruffles stretching throughout the hiney. On the left sleeve she added a coronary heart, as a result of, Raja says, “True therapeutic comes from sporting your coronary heart in your sleeve.” And on the middle of the center is a handwritten emblem.
Her PJs tagline? Heavenly consolation, superior type.
“This venture actually introduced me again to life,” stated Raja.
She designs all the prints on the materials, maintains the web site, fulfills orders, manages the social media, and does the packaging.
“Pajamas for me aren’t about unhappiness anymore. They’re about pleasure, hope authenticity, ardour, and celebration.”

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