Behrens, a Washington-area designer, is founder and CEO of the Shirt by Rochelle Behrens.
How did you come up with the idea for the Shirt?
I came up with the idea and began patenting it in 2008. I was working in politics in Washington, and I could never find a button-down shirt to fit me properly. I wanted to project professionalism, but I was doing just the opposite -- my shirt was gaping open at my bust and looking around, I realized I wasn't the only woman with that problem. The gaping blouse problem vexed me so much that I could stop at nothing to solve it.
How does the Shirt address "the gape?"
Two extra hidden buttons reinforce the bust area of the shirt. I started with a prototype of the idea, and now it's a patented technology built into every one of our shirts.
What is something that surprises you about this business?
How physical this job is. I can't count the number of times that I have hauled boxes of shirts and rolling racks up and down stairs, in and out of elevators and in and out of cars. It's a very physical experience, but it's good because it helps me connect very personally with the product itself.
What is one of the perks of owning your own business?
I believe so strongly in what it is that I am doing that in a lot of ways, there is no alternative for me. You have to have such perseverance to build a business because it takes a long time. You have to be so convinced that it is going to work and so committed in order to make it successful.
Why D.C.? Not many fashion designers are based here.
All of our products are made in the Garment District in New York, so we have a strong presence there as well. But a lot of our customers are here, and Washington is a great place to launch a business.
- Hayley Peterson