Industry Insiders: Stacey “StaceyPants” Bendet

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Stacey Bendet Eisner is a woman of her own design. Deciding to forgo the Wall Street path early on, she entered the fashion world, becoming her own CEO, and after blazing the way for super original multi-colored jeans, earned her “StaceyPants” nickname. A mother to Eloise, wife to producer Eric Eisner, and often times a convivial hostess, the pint-sized powerhouse designer behind Alice + Olivia makes her work part of her life, and her life part of her work. Here she talks about her new ventures, her bi-coastal tendencies, and her love of Big Macs.

What are you doing in LA right now? Well, I’m out here the last week of each month. We have two shops here. We just opened a store out in Malibu but right now I’m actually on my way over to my store on Robertson.

You seem to juggle your public life with your family life. How are you able to multitask? Well, I think that my work is part of my life and my life is part of my work. It all goes together. Definitely having a husband and a baby you have to make some effort to balance things, but we do the last week of each month and then in New York for three weeks. Just kind of makes it work.

Does the whole family travel together? My husband actually produces and finances films so he likes to be out here more.

Alice + Olivia has been expanding. What’s in store for the future? We just opened a Malibu store. We have one of the biggest programs expanding for the next fall with 9T, our T-shirt collection. It includes all kinds of cool T-shirts at a little bit of a lower price point than some of our other stuff. Given the economy right now, it seems to be working really well. They are embellished, really detailed with lace or crystals or embroidery design. Some of them have necklaces attached. It’s more of a T-shirt you’d wear at night, not a shirt you’d throw on at the gym. We are also doing jewelry collaboration with Erickson Beamon, which will come out probably in November. We are discussing doing a possible makeup line that is not totally solidified yet but it’s something we are discussing.

What is the Alice + Olivia face? What would be the makeup aesthetic? It would be kind of signature Alice + Olivia, lots of blacks and whites. Black eyeliners, white sparkling eye shadows, and then pops of color like neon nail polish.

Aside from putting a face on the Alice + Olivia girl, what kind of girl wears the clothes? I think the Alice + Olivia girl is kind of that cool girl anywhere from 18-40 that likes to mix and match her outfits. And it could be anyone from the girl hanging out on the Lower East Side in one of our crazy dresses over a pair of jeans, to the more uptown girl who is going for lunch. Diversity is one of the things I focus on when designing a line. I like my pieces to be able to be worn by a wide range of people.

What are some of your favorite pieces? Right now I like all our new pants. We did all the genie pants and cargo pants for Spring that I really like.

What are some of your biggest goals for your brand in the next year? I think for the next year it’s just to keep the business clean, efficient, and leaner, because of everything that’s going on in the economy.

How do you feel the economy is affecting your own company? It’s been a wake up call. We were a little bit more lax about things, and now we are very much about being lean and efficient. We re-staffed and restructured in a way that is a little bit more reserved.

Is this affecting the materials you use or what you design? We’ve made an effort to have products that are at a low price point. I won’t compromise the quality of my fabrics or the garment for anything. I’ve tried to take a lower margin on some things so we can have a better price.

Many are mourning the death of their closets thanks to this recession. Can you give some advice on how to look great on a budget? I think it’s about keeping your wardrobe based around basics, and allowing yourself to buy statement pieces, like a great colorful bag or one awesome dress. Try to focus on things you can wear different ways. That’s why I love our t-shirts, because you can dress them up or down.

What inspires you? I think you’re inspired everyday of your life, and if you’re not you shouldn’t be a designer.

How would you describe your lifestyle right now if you were in work mode? I practice yoga everyday. My life is a little bit crazy and a little bit random. I’m kind of impulsive.

What about the way you design-what’s the creative process like? A little bit random too. We have certain things that we have to finish at certain times. Alive + Olivia is very much a collection of items, rather than putting out seasonal collections. We are making hundreds of things each month. The creative process builds off itself each day.

What are some of your favorite places to shop? Random vintage stores. The Way We Wore, Decades, Resurrection, Frock, Opening Ceremony, and Iris.

Where do you go out to these days? In LA we usually are pretty mellow. We love Il Sole, or Hamasaku for sushi. We have drinks with friends at the Chateau Marmont In New York we usually go to Rose Bar for drinks and we have dinners at Nobu, Waverly, Monkey Bar. I am always up for drunken bingo at Tortilla Flats.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York? I love Blossom for vegetarian and vegan food, I love Sushi Sen-Nin on 33rd street. Best meal? McDonalds. Nothing really beats a Big Mac and a strawberry milk shake. Definitely McDonalds.