The making of Lost & Found by J Friedman is very much a New York story even though the concept for the company was crystallized in Bali.
Jenny and Jessica Friedman, who share the same last name but are of no relation, first met in 2006, when Jessica Friedman, who was then working as a real estate broker, helped Jenny Friedman find a New York City apartment. The pair became friendly and even took a trip to the Bahamas together. While Jessica Friedman, a Thunderbird School of Management graduate, went on to work in marketing and advertising, her friend built a career in fashion at Akris, Carolina Herrera and Jimmy Choo. Last April she left Jimmy Choo as the U.S. public relations director.
Over the years the two women randomly ran into each other in Montauk, New York City and even once in Tulum where each was surprised to find they had been soaking up the sun side-by-side. At that point, Jessica Friedman was living in Los Angeles and they hadn’t seen each other in a few years. “We were always so excited to see one another but we were never actually making plans to get together,” Friedman said. Last August she texted her friend to see how she was, and learned a resort line was in the works. “I said, ‘That is so crazy. I’m on the same trajectory,’” Friedman said.
When Jessica Friedman referenced an upcoming trip to Bali, Jenny Friedman asked to join her. During their multiweek stay, the pair met a production coordinator, who could handle the manufacturing for a new label, and a fabric mill in the middle of the jungle. “The pieces kept coming together,” Jenny Friedman said. “We didn’t know when we left, if we would be going our separate ways after our return or if it would just be an inspiration trip. While we were there it was just so serendipitous and we came across a lot of the pieces to the puzzle. We combined our efforts and things we’d been working on prior to our trip and made it all cohesive.”
With an idea of what they wanted to design as well as favorite finds from other travels, the two women started setting up the company once they returned to the U.S. In January, they returned to Bali to finesse samples and production, and they officially launched their company this month. While the original plan was to focus on e-commerce, the duo have since decided to offer select wholesale as a way to help get the word out about their Balinese-made collection. Swimwear samples are in the works, and the aim is to develop a lifestyle brand for a beach-inspired life such as beach throws and other bohemian products well-suited for beach vacations. Tote bags, backpacks and other accessories are expected to be added in the next year. Jessica Friedman lives the lifestyle, dividing her time between Venice Beach and Montauk.
Having started her career at Ralph Lauren working as an assistant to Michel Botbol, Jenny Friedman said she kept a watchful eye on the design process even though she was helping with more menial tasks. “I was around Mr. Lauren, Michel and Simon Holloway every day — day in and day out — so I picked up a lot of what goes into it. But that was just more through osmosis.”
Since her strengths were in public relations and writing, she said she always hoped to do something more creative. “I feel like I have my own bohemian style when I was outside Herrera and Jimmy Choo, I wanted to bring that to life. It’s definitely a learning experience. Sometimes you find out the right answer by finding out the wrong answer [first.]”