Simplify everything. That’s the motto of downtown NYC-based fashion label AYR, short for “all year round”, an ode to modern luxe-minimalism and convenience for your wardrobe. Founded in 2014 by friends Maggie Winter, a former merchant at J.Crew, and Jacqueline Cameron, a former designer at Madewell, AYR has quickly become a cult favorite brand among New Yorkers who embody the “everyday effortless hustle” lifestyle.
Inspired by their own frustration with fashion consisting of seasonal throway collections or one-off pieces that get lost at the back of a closet, Maggie and Jacqueline set out to create a more functional fashion label that better understood what the urban-dwelling independent woman demands from her closet, everyday.
Though they launched a digital-first brand, their physical “guideshops”– or pop ups that sample select pieces from their collections and require little overhead– have been a cornerstone strategy to AYR’s success. Currently, they run a SoHo pop-up, located just a few blocks from their HQ design studio, and summer “beach house” pop up in the Hamptons, which both mimic the feeling of walking into your own (dream) closet over a traditional store.
Curious to know more about what goes into running a modern retail brand, we asked Maggie Winter to fill us in about a typical day in her life.
8:00 am - An optimized morning
I love my sleep. It’s the best reward at the end of the day– and I always want more! This is why I keep my morning routine very short. AYR has saved me hours and hours of sleep in the morning by making it much easier to get dressed. I select any top, any bottom, my favourite shoes of the moment... and that’s it!
8:00 am - A Soho breakfast
Once a week, my co-founders and I have breakfast together, usually at neighbourhood favourites such as De Maria's, The Butcher’s Daughter, The Smile, Jacks Wife Freda, Egg Shop or Black Seed Bagel. AYR is growing quickly, meaning we need to divide and conquer. Our breakfast ritual helps us stay organised and efficient. We discuss what we’re working on and share what’s on our minds.
9:30 am - Roundtable with the team
Mid-week, we have a meeting with our whole team around a big white table in our studio. We discuss the past week and plan ahead for the next. It’s a chance for updates, questions, feedback and ideas. Even though everyone’s running a million miles a minute, it allows us to keep one conversation going consistently week after week.
11:00 am - Energize the shop
It’s super important that the vibe in the shop reflects the energy and spirit of our studio. We have a lot of fun and there’s a lot of purpose to what we do. Good energy is contagious, and ultimately, AYR is designed to make people feel good! Our store team is a direct extension of our HQ team.
The first thing you notice when you walk into our Pop Shop isn’t a mannequin in the window (we don’t have any!) or expensive fixtures (cut to that Rodeo Drive scene in Pretty Woman), but a comfy hangout spot and a friendly person. Fashion, especially luxury womenswear, can be really intimidating. But everyone deserves nice things! Good design should belong to everyone. When you walk in the door, you’re a part of the gang.
1:30 pm - Neighborhood lunch rituals
Community is everything to us. It’s what brought us together in the first place – our entire team is made up of friends and friends-of-friends. We love being a part of a crew, a generation, a team, a neighborhood. Our Soho Pop Shop is just a few blocks from our Noho studio – so we made a local lunch guide for downtown NYC. Some of my favorites are 2 Hands, Rubirosa, Cafe Gitane, La Esquina takeout, Lovely Day and Mimi Cheng's.
The same goes with Sag Harbor, where we opened AYR Beach House for the summer. Every week, we host friends who are also building brands and we invite everyone over to come hang. It’s become our home away from home. Some highlights include Parachute (our favorite linen sheets ever!), sunnies from Krewe, and the ultimates stripes by Kule.
3:00 pm - Meetings, fittings, castings, office circus routine
The afternoons are usually filled with a combination of marketing brainstorms, fittings, castings, mill appointments, production meetings - you name it it’s probably going on, all at once, at the AYR studio. We have to simultaneously look far into the future seasons ahead, while focusing on what’s immediate and imminent this week. It’s a balancing act and challenge we are all getting used to!
7:30 pm - Post work drinks
After closing up the shop and finishing work up at HQ, you’ll probably find the AYR team sipping on cocktails at Bowery Hotel, Vic's, Acme, or Lafayette (always with a side of frites). At least once a month we do a team outing for pizza at Rubirosa. Zandy is on a shuffleboard league at Royal Palms so we do our best to support, but have yet to conquer the scheduling conflicts that prevent us from forming our very own AYR team. If there is any steam left in the tank, we try and see friends, catch up with other founders in our space (it’s so important to hear what everyone else is going thru, exchange ideas and feel like a part of the community) - otherwise it’s home for culture catch-up - there’s a serious backlog on our podcast/series queues. Trying to read a book usually = catching some much needed sleep!