Grounded in design
A Brooks bra designer shares her artistic roots, creative process, and advice for anyone looking to get into the industry.
Brooks apparel manager Angelica Jenett came to the U.S. with her family from Lima, Peru, when she was just 9 years old. They had won the immigration lottery, and when they got here, she barely spoke English. But like many who come to the U.S. seeking opportunity, Angelica worked hard and thrived. She went on to Otis College of Art and Design in LA and earned her Masters at Boston University in 2018. In 2019, Angelica joined Brooks as a senior designer and is now the design manager for our run bras.
Read on as Angelica shares her creative journey, from playing in her family’s garment factory as a child to using science and runner insights to design run bras.
Brooks Running: When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
Angelica Jenett: Design was almost like a family business. My uncles on my mom’s side had a garment factory. I remember walking around and seeing the screen printers working when I was a little kid. On my mom’s side there were lots of designers and artists and musicians. My grandmother gave me a sewing machine when I was 14, and I was just set from there.
BR: What is your creative process like?
AJ: For me it’s like I’m constantly filtering everything. Whatever I’m looking at — whether it’s someone running down the street, or if I’m at an art show, or browsing websites, magazines or Instagram — there are little things that I pick up that stick in my head. Then of course we get our line orders and our briefs, and I take bits of what’s in my head and apply it to that. It’s like putting a puzzle together. I also think about the history of an item and the needs of the business.
I like to do things over and over again — I iterate a lot. I’ll sketch something, but put it down and start over and keep working at it until it gets better, until the design really comes through. My husband is an engineer so there’s always an end point for his work. But for me, I naturally enjoy not knowing exactly where I’m going.
BR: How is your work at Brooks different from other work you've done in the past?
AJ: My background is more in trend-specific design – think Free People, Pac Sun, Old Navy, and Gap. We were talking more about trend and not as much about body, wear, and the actual end use of product. So there’s a huge difference in the amount of insight that goes into this. With the gear we make here, we must think about what distance you’re running, where to put your keys, can you fit a Gu in here?
BR: Can you share some of the biggest challenges you've faced in this industry?
AJ: A huge challenge for me was finding a company like Brooks that aligned with my values — having a depth of knowledge when building something and more respect for the end user. A company that focuses more on sustainability. A place that has an amazing happy vibe where it’s inclusive and welcome to all kinds of people. I didn’t do track in high school, and I am not a born athlete, but being at a company like Brooks that welcomes that is so important to me.
BR: How has an being an immigrant helped shape your art and career?
AJ: I think a big reason I followed a visual path is that when I came to the U.S. as a kid, I didn’t speak English at all. Having visual cues became life support for me. I would have to really see what was going on because I couldn’t rely on the language. And as I grew up, designing became more of an expression for me. I would go to thrift stores and get material to make my own garments.
BR: What is good design to you?
AJ: Garments having a purpose, but beauty can be a purpose, too. As long as there’s some kind of end use that you’re happy with, and it’s achieving what you want it to do. Good design is modern so you are able to place it in time.
BR: What makes Brooks run bras unique?
AJ: The number thing is that they’re run bras and not sports bras. I learned that quickly here. There are so many considerations when we are creating a run bra. We test on all different kinds of bodies, on runners, and in the lab. I’d never lab-tested a garment in my career. It’s fascinating to see what the movement is like in the garment, what the right level of support is for a person. I learned that the right level of support isn’t necessarily the most support. It’s different for everyone, but there is a sweet spot.
BR: What was your biggest takeaway from the lab aspect of designing Brooks run bras?
AJ: We work with University of Portsmouth — they do all of our lab data. With that we are able to see the movement that happens in the bra, and visualize what it does. That visualization looks like an infinity sign. Of course, when I saw that I got excited because I realized this movement has shape, so I thought ‘what can I design with it?’ In the end, all this amazing science comes through in the design.
BR: What would you like to say to someone interested in design?
AJ: Don’t give up. Design can be a career. Art can be a career. Have a belief that you can make it in this world. Keep your eyes and ears open for inspiration.
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Check out Angelica’s portfolio to explore more about her background and see some of her super-cool design sketches.