St. Louis Designer Chrissy Fogerty On Shaping Her Own Brand
“You gravitate towards something when you realize your strengths are there—especially when you’re younger,” says Chrissy Fogerty, namesake and proprietor of the Fauxgerty clothing brand. She has sharpened that priceless quality of self-observation over the years and puts it to use during moments of reflection. “I think if you were to ask my parents, they’d tell you I was always going to be in fashion. Growing up, I did filing at my dad’s internet-processing company in high school and hated it. I thought, ‘I’d rather work at a boutique.’”
While in college at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, Fogerty began studying the nature of interpersonal relationships and environmentalism through the lens of fashion. These sensibilities later developed the brand’s signature piece: moto jackets crafted from PVC-free faux leather, a material that has taken Fogerty years to find. In 2015, Fogerty opened a polished, curated boutique store in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood. Since then, Fauxgerty has expanded into a country-wide brand, manufacturing on both coasts and hosting a number of pop-up shops, most recently in Omaha, Los Angeles, and soon, on October 20 and 21, in Nashville.
Ever since the idea began haunting her, there hasn’t been a day when she hasn’t thought about how to continue growing the company. She consistently asks the question, “Who is Fauxgerty?” and refines the answer. “I like looking at it as something that’s allowed to change. So often with a product or brand, you don’t want to let go of who you’ve been.” Mentally, she’d already been developing the idea for Fauxgerty for years before approaching the fork in the road of risk or reward—though through Fogerty’s eyes, things aren’t always so black and white.
The quest to pull off the kind of faux leather jacket she envisioned led her to discover a treasure in the fashion industry: a material that feels nearly identical to leather, but is also sustainably produced. “If you buy faux leather in a bolt, it’s essentially plastic. Ours is made in a factory that creates green goods. PVC can be harmful—it’s highly flammable. There’s also flame retardant on typical faux leather, which is very toxic. That’s how they get that sheen that makes it look more like natural leather. The company we work with is the most sustainability-focused leather-alternative company that exists. They’re continuing the conversation we’re trying to have.”
After returning home to St. Louis after college, Fogerty began working as an administrator at a graphic design firm, where she met designer, artist, future art director of Fauxgerty and best friend Meg Ebaugh-Faris. “That was definitely the universe dropping me in a very specific place for a very specific reason. Meg is a true artist. She has so much creative potential. We were like a Yin-and-Yang dream team in that capacity. I had all these ideas, and Meg had all of this creative energy she needed to put somewhere.” Ebaugh-Faris paints on the moto jackets after Fogerty has crafted and designed them, often with portraits and figures alongside geometric shapes and designs.
Fogerty also has many entrepreneurs in her family, from whom she inherited the belief that she could do it too. “My mindset is, ‘It’s not impossible to do things like this.’ When I first told Meg and asked her to come aboard, I remember one of the things she said was, ‘I can’t believe people actually do this.’ Someone’s got to start new things. Why do we think someone else can own a successful brand, but not us?”
Though Fauxgerty is on an upswing of growth, it has not been without challenges. A foray into wholesale became a nightmare. There were bouts of uncertainty. Fogerty’s father, to whom she brings many of her business quandaries, often reminded her that if success came down to one thing, it would be one’s ability to move on from a problem. “The people who make it are just the people who outlast everyone else. They just keep going,” says Fogerty. “How quickly can you say, ‘That sucks,’ and then keep trying?”
Fogerty’s husband, Jon Keating, is also on board as the company’s chief operating officer, which lends it a strong sense of stability. “Jon is an executor. He came in and organized Fauxgerty’s life. And there are certain topics that I can talk to only him about. When something happens that brings us off track, it has been invaluable for me to be able to say, ‘Well, that was really shitty,’ and we don’t have to bring it anywhere else. We get coffee together every morning, so that’s nice,” says Fogerty. “That closeness becomes a mirror.”
Their aim also continues to stretch and evolve: when one goal is met, the next one surfaces. “At this point, I’ve finally been in it long enough that I can hold on to what I’ve learned, because it helps me feel comfortable. Meg and Jon are going to laugh—I wouldn’t call myself a control freak, but I’m definitely involved in the details. I’ve seen, touched or discussed everything that goes out with Fauxgerty’s name on it.”
Fogerty was recently listening to a podcast in which stand-up comedian John Mulaney discussed a moment of defining success: an offer to develop his own sitcom on Fox. “The show just dirt-bag flopped. In the podcast, he talked about how his biggest fear in life was that he would plummet in front of all of these people. And that happened. Later, he did a stand-up comedy tour, which was crazy successful, and now people love him. But he talks about how the thing he was most scared of in life happened, and it was horrible, but it’s over and he moved on. That really resonated with me,” she says.
It’s a mentality she carries to Fauxgerty—her own eponymous dream come true. “If the worst thing that happens is that I don’t have Fauxgerty anymore, I will just think of something else.”
This story originally appeared in ALIVE Issue 5, 2017. Purchase Issue 5 and become an ALIVE subscriber.
Photography by Attilio D’Agostino.