Empowering women

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Nina McLemore produces quality clothing to help professionals “achieve their goals”


  • Nina McLemore likes "supporting a local neighborhood and being with other locally-owned stores." Photo courtesy of Nina McLemore

What do Elizabeth Warren, Doris Kearns Goodwin, the president of Cornell University, and the CEO of PepsiCo all have in common? Professional goals aside, they all wear the same brand.

Nina McLemore Inc. has become the brand of choice for influential women today. Nina McLemore herself, the CEO of the company, is at the helm of this groundbreaking movement in women’s fashion. With 14 stores in various locations and a distinct trademark style, McLemore designs and produces quality clothing for those seeking a professional yet elegant look.

McLemore, who has lived on the Upper East Side for over 20 years, originally started her business out of her apartment there. One of her first retail stores opened on the Upper East Side in 2011.

“I like supporting a local neighborhood and being with other locally-owned stores, rather than the large international brands,” explained McLemore. “We try to have a warm, friendly atmosphere in the store to give that local store feeling when you walk in.”

McLemore was involved in the fashion industry long before she started her own business. “I had grown up making, with my mother, all of my own clothes, so designing a collection was something I learned at an early age,” remarked McLemore, a Mississippi native.

After working for Liz Claiborne as an executive and founding Liz Claiborne Accessories, McLemore realized she was an entrepreneur at heart. She decided to earn her MBA from Columbia Graduate School of Business and invest in consumer and women-owned businesses. She finally started Nina McLemore Inc. when she recognized the opportunity in the market for professional attire for women in the workplace.

“My main reason for starting this business was to help women achieve their goals,” explained McLemore. “To design clothes so that when they walk into the room, everyone knows they belong at the table.”

To Nina McLemore, first impressions can mean everything and clothing is a large part of that. “We are women and that can be an advantage — so dressing with a sense of style, in color with a tailored and yet feminine jacket skirt, dress or pants — sets you apart. We are visual people and respond positively to great art, and clothing is an art form.”

In addition to her professional success, McLemore is active in various community projects and non-profits. She has been a member in several women’s organizations such as the Committee of 200, the International Women’s Forum, Women Presidents’ Organization, and Women Corporate Directors.

“We actively search out smaller local charities to work with that focus on women, children, education and health,” said McLemore, who has worked with the Animal Medical Center, Junior League, the New York Women’s Forum for their scholarship program and the Girl Scouts of Greater New York where she served on the board of directors.

Other than starting her own successful business, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is McLemore’s greatest accomplishment.

“You can get through almost anything if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and breathe very deeply,” said McLemore. “Great lesson for the long endurance it takes to build a company with a product that you have to reinvent four times a year!”

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