Judy’s “passion for fashion” goes back as long as she can remember. Her father, a fashion industry executive, taught her to sew at a young age. By 11, Judy knew she was destined to become a fashion designer.
By age 22, Judy graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell University in 1984, where she majored in Apparel Design. Her education included a semester abroad at The London College of Fashion. From 1984 to 1988, she was the designer for a junior sportswear company in New York City.
This job took her to Paris, St. Tropez, London, Milan, Amsterdam, and Dusseldorf to research emerging fashion trends, which she interpreted for the North American market. She then traveled to Asia where the garments were manufactured, taking month-long trips to destinations including Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Istanbul. A high point in Judy’s career was seeing her designs displayed in Macy’s Herald Square window in New York City.
After years of fast-paced life, Judy realized she needed to slow down and do some soul searching. As great as her job was, it left her feeling empty. In 1986, a chance meeting with Peter Joannou led to love, and marriage followed two years later. The couple settled in Ashton, located in the Ottawa Valley. Peter realized his dream of building his own home and, in 1992, Judy established her own company, Judy Joannou Designs. She operated her fashion design business from their home for 26 years, selling her line through artisan and fashion shows, and from her home studio.
In May 2018, Judy opened her first full-time brick and mortar shop, Judy Joannou, Classic Style with a Twist, in Almonte. This space has allowed her to expand her selection to include quality Canadian and European brands in addition to her own collection, Judy Joannou Designs.
Together, they have built a business which fulfills Judy’s creative freedom and allows her to personally connect with her customers. Getting to know the women who wear her clothes has filled the void she felt as a designer in industry.
"While my business model has changed over the past 30 years, one thing that has remained consistent is my desire to provide personalized service, with the goal of helping women choose styles that will make them look and feel their best. My first priority is getting to know my customer and them getting to know me, which establishes trust. It's this connection with my customers that gives meaning to what I do. It turns out that was the missing ingredient from being a designer in the NYC fashion industry."
“In the fashion industry, my designs were a commodity that were bought and sold. It was about having the right item at the right price. Now I create collections that reflect me, what I think my customers will like, and what will look good on them. My customers are no longer Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Victoria’s Secret. They are Alice, Barb, Betty, Doris, Carole, Diane…” - Judy Joannou