Janel Dyan

Women Crushing It Wednesday

#WCIW: Stella McCartney

Leader in Animal-Friendly Fashion. Ethical Entrepreneur.
Not Just a Beatle’s Daughter.

While she was famous from birth for being the daughter of Beatle Paul McCartney, Stella McCartney has succeeded in creating an enviable brand, label, and legacy that are all her own.  Born in London in 1971 to Paul and Linda McCartney, Stella grew up on tour for her parents’ band Wings. Despite the hectic tour schedule and travel, Stella remembers her childhood fondly and had a happy family life.  

When Wings disbanded, the McCartneys moved to an organic farm in the English countryside where Stella was exposed to sustainable farming and farm animals.  Her mother, Linda, was an avid animal rights activist and Stella was a vegetarian from her.  Her upbringing would eventually have a significant impact on her future entrepreneurial efforts and design philosophy.

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As young as thirteen, Stella exhibited an interest in fashion.  As a young teen she began to design and make her own clothes.  At sixteen she was offered an internship with designer Christian Lacroix and, after completing her degree at Central Saints Martins, she applied to become an intern for designer Betty Jackson.  Jackson initially turned Stella down for fear that having a “rockstar kid” as an intern would be a terrible distraction.  A friend, however, pleaded on McCartney’s behalf and Jackson hired her.  

Of the young Stella McCartney, Jackson has said, “She was genuine, there wasn't anything precious about her. [Her parents] had taught that you had to work hard to get what you want and she worked really hard. All the menial tasks – making coffee, picking up pins, going to get lunch for everybody, running bits of fabric around London. We made no concessions and she didn't expect any.  She was great. All the seamstresses fell in love with her."

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While her name and family connections have certainly helped her along her way, it has always been extremely important to Stella to never allow her name to carry her.  She puts in the work and makes the extra effort.  

While there have been those in the past who have turned their noses up at her success, those that know her best have said, "She's got four children, she designs a line for Adidas, her own line, the accessories, the children's wear, the lingerie, the perfume. It's a remarkable empire," says Harriet Quick, fashion features director of Vogue. Her work ethic in the industry is legendary. 

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In 1997, McCartney was named Creative Director of Chloe.  Despite early critics and a tough year in 1998 when she lost her mother to breast cancer, she managed to completely turn the brand around during her time there.

Her real dream, however, was to create her own, eponymous label.  With a 50/50 partnership with Kering (The Gucci Group), she did just that in 2001. While her first solo show was met with scathing reviews, McCartney refused to give up.  She went back to the drawing board and came back with the sporty, fun, sharply tailored garments that she has come to be known for.

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Her exquisite cut and tailoring isn’t the only thing that Stella’s label is known for--from the very beginning of her solo venture, McCartney has been determined not to incorporate any leather, fur, or skin in any of her pieces. Despite pressure from the industry and the ever-daunting “bottom line”, she has stuck to her morals and remained an animal-friendly brand. It has earned her approval from PETA and animal rights activists and organizations across the globe.

It is also very important to Stella that her company is honest and transparent about their products and production. Stella McCartney has made a commitment to sustainability and is one of the leaders of the movement in the luxury industry.

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For her unwavering commitment to the animal kingdom, her outstanding work ethic, and her highly ethical approach to fashion, Stella McCartney is this week’s #WCIW.

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