By Tatiana M. BrownSpeical to the Chronicle
Since Rachel A. Fenderson graduated from Hofstra in 2006 with a degree in English Literature, she created and distributed a clothing line called Pepper Jacques. Fenderson was born in Jamaica, Queens, and raised in the St. Albans neighborhood of Queens. As a child Fenderson always dreamed of designing clothing. She considered pursuing this ambition at Parsons The New School For Design for her undergraduate education, but the traditional four-year track for education won out. Thus she began attending Hofstra University in fall 2002. Yet Fenderson never abandoned her ultimate dream. After graduating from Hofstra in 2006, Fenderson spent the summer in Japan. She visited the design center of Issey Miyake, a prominent worldwide brand. The creative force there and everywhere else in Japan moved her to make fashion design her forefront goal. Fenderson returned to the United States in the fall. Upon returning she decided to put her goal into action by applying to Parsons. While attending Parsons, Fenderson also worked at an investment firm, which she says gave her the business knowledge for her company today. She completed her degree in fashion design in June 2008. After graduating Parsons, Fenderson interned for Catherine Fung, a popular women’s and canine clothing designer. She later worked for a start-up couture house, Rafael Cennamo, as the operational manager. “A prodigious amount of human resources, accounting and business operations experience was the guidance and push for the start of Pepper Jacques Pep, LLC,” Fenderson said. Pepper Jacques was officially created on January 1, 2011. The name is derived from a nickname given to Fenderson by her little brother. The women’s wear line is comprised of two “personalities” or design influences, Pepper and Jacques. Pepper clothes women in pieces that suit the line and curve of women’s bodies, using the best materials. Jacques exudes opulent lifestyle, exclusivity, travel and education. “I created Pepper Jacques] because as a designer I love accessories; they are the pieces that change an outfit,” said Fenderson. “I would go into clothing stores, and I could never find accessories in full sequence, only partial… Women are often set and decided when it comes to clothing choices. So I decided to create pieces that weren’t offered traditionally myself.” Although just starting as a company, Fenderson and her clothing line have been seen in many events, such as Henri Bendel’s Open See, Designer Casting Call for Fall 2012 in March 2012, and Beauty and Body Meets Fashion, a trunk show with The Body Shop at Roosevelt Field Mall. Fenderson has also brought her work to Hofstra with an Atrium Table in the Student Center in September. Body-Jaques-ed is a trunk show to be held with The Body Shop in Soho on October 27 at 11:00 a.m. Currently, Fenderson is working on her spring 2013 collection, which she hopes to finish in March or April of next year. This will be her third collection for her company. The prior two were an accessories X-GS collection in fall 2012, and Pre-Resort collection for 2013. “I think right now, [Pepper Jacques] is in its infantile stage,” said Fenderson. “But just by being offered these opportunities I know Pepper Jacques has a future, because this line has worked in the middle of a recession.” Fenderson’s ultimate goal for Pepper Jacques is to place it in pop-up stores and to make Pepper Jacques a lifestyle choice for many women.