Joy by name, joy by nature. Who among us doesn’t love a magpie moment? It makes sense, then, that Joy Cioci is going down such a treat with party girls, A listers, and best dressed list fixtures alike. In particular, their painstakingly detailed recent collection Sparkle & Shine which makes a new chapter for design duo Joy Cioci and Hayley Gentry. After bookmarking the brand’s Instagram pictures for a minute, saving them away for later outfit inspiration, we were keen to know more about the history of the label. Turns out Cioci had originally launched the brand back in 2010, building on years’ of experience working for Nina Ricci, Gucci, Paco Rabanne, Carolina Herrera, and more. Having dressed celebrities and private clients alike over the last decade, Cioci welcomed Gentry into the fold to usher in a new era. Here’s what you need to know!
How did you two meet?
Joy: Hayley had just moved to New York and a mutual friend introduced us. A lunch led to her interest in visiting my showroom, which was followed by a beautiful friendship blossoming. From that day forward, we have been inseparable. No matter the distance we are always together, one way or another!
What’s the best thing about working together, and how do your roles differ/complement each other?
Hayley: Working together is magical. We are both so grateful to have created a reality where we get to create and design next to each other. There’s nothing like a best friend duo!
Joy: Our personalities truly complement and bring out the best in each other. We are incredibly aligned aesthetically, which makes it easy to work together.
Joy! You’ve a ton of experience in fashion at all types of companies—what was the one thing you felt was missing, that you set out to create with your namesake brand in 2010?
My dream was always to have my own brand and to create in a way that makes others happy. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I aspire to create and design. While each job I’ve had has been incredibly beneficial in leading me to the position I am in today; each was very fast, with strong pressure to create on demand. I wanted to stand out on my own and create pieces that felt timeless, classic, and true to who I am.
What have been some highs of the journey so far? And what keeps you going when times get tough?
Joy: I have always loved hearing clients tell me how special they feel in my pieces. Every time it happens, it truly brings me joy (…pun intended!). We have seen such an uptick in sales the past six months which has been exhilarating. Dressing Meghan Markle earlier in my career was very exciting, and a tough high to beat. What keeps me going, though, is my passion for designing and love for my clients! All of our pieces are made in NYC, so I spend a significant amount of time in
the factory. It can be taxing at times, but also motivating when I get to see my design sketch come to life on a customer.
Hayley, when did you join the brand and what is an average day like for you?
The brand became collaborative between myself and Joy with the design of my personal wedding dress. We combined efforts in creating a true masterpiece, which actually remains on showcase at our atelier, to this day. Our sense of direction became clear for the brand, but it wasn’t until 2021 that we made the decision to start a brand together. Continuing using the JOY CIOCI name was a given, as the brand was already there and Joy was warmly open to me becoming part of the brand identity.
What has your customer come to know you for?
Hayley: Quality, luxurious, and timeless pieces with unique styling. Our clients are able to find something that doesn’t exist everywhere. The details matter to us. The fit, quality and design allow our customers to showcase their personality. The designs are made to move with the wearer, and bring additional life to their movements. Clients feel an elevated sense of self in JOY CIOCI pieces, and have noted time and time again how they allow them to feel like the star of any event day or night.
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You’ve dressed lots of talent and it girls to date—who have been some particularly memorable/fun ones to work with?
Hayley: Working closely with fashion influencer extraordinaire Erica Pelosini has been amazing. Having a client come in and be open to becoming a part of the JOY CIOCI culture is what makes us shine from the inside. It motivates us to create and design for moments to “wow” any crowd.
Joy: We have dressed so many amazing women, from Gwyenth Paltrow to Lindsey Lohan, Michelle Obama, Hannah Bronfman, and Chrissy Tiegan. The most exciting client is the one that keeps returning, therein building a relationship with us as both their designer, and their friend.
Is social media and Instagram in particular a game-changer for the brand?
Hayley: We have, as consumers and business owners alike, seen that Instagram elevates the relationship development experience, in that building a more personal relationship is easier than ever before. We are able to communicate with our clients directly, in a way that allows us to design for and provide customer care to clients that makes them feel loved.
Joy: It really is incredible how anyone in the world can find us. The accessibility social media provides is so brilliant. It also gives roadway to more creativity, with an endless access to inspiration.
The recent collection, Sparkle and Shine, is the second you’ve worked on together—tell us about it! How was it received?
Joy: The bottom line is that we believe life is better with glitter. Our goal with the collection was to display this belief. Our clients’ response has been strongly felt through the social media shares, written feedback, and sales. Women love to feel special, and to have their moment. The collection is feminine, flirtatious and truly embodies the freedom to self express without hesitation. Freedom in fashion has been especially prominent in post-COVID society. For two years, we couldn’t go out or get dressed for events, and now there’s much to catch up on! Everyone wants to sparkle, and be seen, and we hope to make this possible one detailed piece at a time.
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Tell us about the custom side of the business!
Joy: I can’t help but reminisce on the opportunities we have been given to make a bride’s dream their reality. Bridal has been a huge part of the brand for many years. We work with a handful of brides each season to design the wedding dress of their dreams, as well as cocktail dresses for rehearsals, bridesmaid outfits, and more! The process involves many fittings, and closely working with the bride to ensure she gets exactly what she wants.
Hayley, what’s your favorite thing about working in the fast-paced world of fashion in NYC?
Working with my partner Joy has been so fulfilling. I cannot express the gratitude I have, that I choose to work beside and be supported by the one nearest and dearest to my heart. My favorite thing in regards to the fast-paced New York fashion world is waking up and feeling the spirit of New York from the moment I walk out the front door. The grit, the snow, the wind… all ask you to create something. It’s very inspiring. I feel more myself in NYC than anywhere else I have ever lived.
When Joy and I first lived together, each morning we would order our bagels with lox, honey, and lemon, and hot sauce on the side, and talk about taking over the world. Oh, how far we’ve come but we never hesitate to appreciate the little moments, past or present.
Cute! What have you found is the right recipe to be for running a popular and successful clothing brand?
Joy: We are always tweaking, checking in with our customers on what they want for their next piece, and finding inspiration through our experiences. We put a lot of thought into who a client is and how to make them feel special wearing a Joy Cioci piece. We are able to customize most pieces, which is helpful to women of all sizes, but also for those looking for something extra special for their next event. We believe it’s important to stay true to ourselves and keep the blinders on. Originality is the main ingredient in our designs, and we certainly aren’t running low on it.
Hayley: The Harper set from our current collection is a great example of how best we work together. What we don’t see on the runway and coming up with our own ideas and using our creativity to create the clothes we haven’t seen yet and want to wear. I made my Instagram handle @DearDiary to express my openness to share more personal things on the internet, but to also open up the opportunity to people in the industry to create beauty and share designs and talents across the world, without gatekeeping or having an ego. If we were to all treat our social media like our bedside diaries, how much more beauty would the world share and see?
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What combination of skills and passion do you think it takes to lead a brand these days?
Joy: Experience is very important. Working hard, having patience, and not being afraid to pull all-nighters have all taken us to the position we sit in today. Inside this industry, it may not be glamorous at all times, but it’s well worth it!
Hayley: We both have different body types which helps us understand dressing for different bodies. We both understand a woman’s desire to feel good in her skin and knowing how to design for all shapes and sizes is key. By designing garments that women want to wear and feel comfortable wearing, we fulfill our greatest passions.
What’s coming up for the brand soon and for the rest of 2023?
Joy: Our next debut collection, as well as a RTW bridal collection, will be launching.
Who are some names you’d love to dress/work with?
Joy: There are so many beautiful women out there, and we would of course love to dress them all! To be specific, though, I would love to dress Margot Robbie, Rihanna, and Emily Ratajkowski…
Hayley: I would love to be given the full reins to hand stitch and design whatever my partner, Joy Cioci, would like. She is my dream to dress! But also, we love Pamela Anderson, Victoria Beckham, and Taylor Swift.
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What’s your biggest dream for the brand?
Hayley: To have our designs be passed down through generations. We are deeply family-focused and would love to be a part of a family’s story. I’m so proud that I can tell my daughter that I own a clothing brand—which is a big dream come true in itself. Perhaps one day she will follow in my footsteps, and I won’t just be handing down designs to her. Of course these are more long time goals. In the meantime, a pop-up yacht event would be fun and is a smaller dream of mine!
Joy: My biggest dream for the brand is to see the sparkle that we weave into our designs, the sparkle that we have shining from the inside out, to begin to shine out in our clients’ lives as well. To sparkle and shine is to thrive, in my mind. We want to continue to grow, expand stockists, and build out our bridal division further. Free standing boutiques in major cities would be incredible too!