Together, Jen Steele and Anna Gray are a force to be reckoned with. Despite their sincere nice-girl demeanor, both women are strong-willed, driven, outspoken, and wise beyond their years. Perhaps that explains the success behind founding editor Steele’s Girls I Know, a digital space (and now real paper zine!) dedicated to promoting positive, dynamic female role models. Jen, a stylist and editor with on-point intuition, and Anna, a whip-smart writer (she currently writes for Homepolish in addition to GIK) are both easy to talk to and eager to share the inspiring bits and bobs of the people they encounter everyday.
And while they’re busy using their creative talents for greater good, the leading ladies of GIK are also unabashed about their love of fashion. You can see glimpses of their fondness for stylish attire as an artform in a sampling of the first issue of the GIK zine below. The Window got to know the girls in a way that’s close to our hearts, by tasking both Jen and Anna with choosing items from our killer designer sale that speak to their personalities and creating a haiku about their style to match. Read on, shop on, and get to know the girls yourself.
The Window: How did you two meet each other?
Jen Steele: We first met at a bar in the East Village, maybe five years ago. Anna was playing pool and I asked if I could join. Neither of us are very good. Well, I should only speak for myself. I am not very good. I like that Anna is game. She’s usually up for anything and has a groovy attitude.
How did Girls I Know come about?
JS: Girls I Know was literally a box of polaroids that I had taken working in fashion and living in New York for nearly ten years. I wanted to acknowledge the smart women I would not have met unless I was a fixture in New York. To use very ’90s language—women I consider role models. I originally imagined Girls I Know as a book, but after getting an initial pass from a literary agent I created the website. Boom boom. Fast forward to now. We are in the midst of a site redesign and starting production on issue 002.
What is the mission behind GIK?
JS: To share the influence of highly dynamic and successful women with a generation of girls interested in learning about who they are or who they will become. This sounds like some Oprah talk, I know—but I’m 100% serious about it.
Have you met anyone through GIK recently that has made a big impact on your own life?
JS: I met Rachael Yaeger this year and since our first encounter we’ve made a habit out scheduling Dimes breakfast meetings. She’s hardworking and puts her own heart in to the project collaborations she leads—there are many! To me, Rachel is a reminder that with hustle comes success. For example, she walked me through the printing process and essentially gave me priceless information needed to print our firstzine, info I would have otherwise not known unless I had her experience.
Anna Gray: Since working with Jen on GIK, I’ve even gotten to know women I’m already friends with better. Sitting down for an intimate and topical conversation opens a lot of doors that are often lost in the nighttime hustle or day-to-day chit-chat. I truly look at acquaintances, old bosses, great friends, and even my mom in new light after interviewing them.
What was it like putting the ideas of GIK into print?
AG: Print is hard! There are all of these margin, size, image, font, transparency, and layout intricacies that come with the medium. It was an incredible learning experience.
Why should someone buy a zine?
AG: Buy a zine because it’s a physical, bite-size representation of someone’s brain!
Why should someone buy YOUR zine?
JS: I’d love to show off Julia Cumming’s or Taylor Warren’s fashion story. I think it’s important to note the project was all girls, in every capacity. The mothers’ section is boss. Moms are heroes…
AG: Women’s empowerment, chicks on motorbikes, ladies in Haiti, femmes in clothes: all this good stuff in one lil’ thing you can hold in your hands and smell. Actually, you might not be able buy our zine—because they’re nearly sold out—but stay tuned for issue 002!
Feminism and fashion—is there a way for them to exist together?
JS: Two of my most favorite style icons are considered feminists or feministic in their approach to life: Joan Didion and Gloria Steinem. Fashion was always meant to dance with feminism—they just spent some time eyeing one another at the party.
AG: Loving style and fashion does not mean you can’t believe in and support gender equality. Fashion’s history is steeped in female empowerment. Wear what makes you feel good, but understand where that feeling is coming from. Do you like it or do the people looking at you like it? Maybe it’s both.
What type of shopper are you?
JS: I’m a clean shopper—in that I do not purchase any fast fashion items, and I always give away something before I go in on something new! I love doing this. It’s cathartic.
Shopping a sale is…
JS: My jam.
Clothes are important because…
JS: They hold you together.
AG: You could be saying something just by walking into a room.
JEN STEELE’S STYLE
Blue Jeans And White Cotton
Boyfriend Everything And Some Wisconsin Country Love
With Perfect Blazers And Gold Sparks
ANNA GRAY’S STYLE
Woke Up Late Gotta Go
Sequins? Denim? Turtleneck?
What Would Björk Wear Today?