Full Bleed Banner  Mobile Full Bleed Banner

All In the Family

“I went to my family and said ‘This is it. It’s time. We need to start our own business.”

26 years of evolution in the fashion industry.

Jenny started in the fashion business in California over 40 years ago. She had immigrated from South Africa, where she had originally earned a degree in school teaching. Her parents and sister soon followed her. Upon arriving, her parents worked making belts, while she worked as an assistant (then called a secretary, as she notes) in the film industry.

When her parents decided to move up to LA, her mother saw it as an opportunity to encourage Jenny's innate style and they formed their first family business — a belt company called Chloe Lee. Jenny’s mom would sew the belts and Jenny would go around to stores in LA selling them. They eventually merged with fellow South African partners to become a brand called Streets Ahead. While it was a success, Jenny decided to start her own company Jennifer Graham- an accessories and home goods line.

While that company eventually folded, her sister, Leann, and parents had started a brand called Lianne Barnes Knitwear. Weary for previous partnerships and solo efforts, she approached them and said that it was time to start a business totally of their own, and Velvet was born.

“I went to my family and said ‘This is it. It’s time. We need to start our own business.”-Desktop “I went to my family and said ‘This is it. It’s time. We need to start our own business.”-Mobile
 Full Bleed Banner  Mobile Full Bleed Banner

In the beginning Jenny and her sister were both the designers and the creative directors, her mother oversaw production and her dad ran the shipping. Henry, her husband and now CEO of Velvet, oversaw the business along with his father.

One day, Henry announced that they needed to decide on a name by the end of weekend. On that Sunday morning, Jenny pulled the dictionary off the shelf and started looking at words. When she came to the word “Velvet” the definition had a meaning that many people don’t know. It not only means luxurious textures and fabric, but it also means “profitable gains.” Wanting to make a living for her family, the combination of the two meanings clicked with her.

The first Velvet factory opened in Southern California, where much of the clothing is still manufactured. Jenny decided along with her sister to start only using two fabrications, 100% cotton rib and a viscose. They would make eight tee-shirts, in each fabrication, and the intention was to keep it that way. The idea was simple — each season they would change the color. But the key was that those fabrics would feel so soft that any woman would come and touch it and say, “oh my god, I have to put this on.” One of the first signature touches was that the label would be a strip of velvet, denoting each size by a different color. This simple model lasted two seasons. To keep up with demand, they began adding more and more pieces. They dropped the strip of velvet for a more traditional label. Eventually Jenny’s sister departed and Toni Spencer was hired, who would work alongside Jenny for almost two decades. Hence the name “Velvet by Graham and Spencer.”

-Desktop -Mobile

From eight tee-shirts, Velvet's collections have grown to about 140 pieces on average. This was a process of slowly but surely adding more and more categories. Menswear inevitably evolved a few years after Velvet's initial launch. “Men, of all people, love feeling soft,” says Jenny, so the premise was they would use the same luxe fabrics for men as they did for women, which was unheard of at the time.

During covid lockdown, business suffered and stores closed. Because everyone was at home, and wearing sweats and tee-shirts all day, Jenny knew it was a good time to go back to Velvet’s roots. She started a second collection of organic tee-shirts and sweatshirts and called it "Velvet by Jenny Graham". Online sales took off, and to an extent, this helped to revitalize the company. As people slowly began to be out and about, they began wanting to wear different styles. So the collection branched out to include Jenny’s classic favorites — all the essentials a person needs in their closet.

 Full Bleed Banner  Mobile Full Bleed Banner

“I feel so privileged, so lucky for my team. This collection is a reflection of my team, not just me. We've built this together.”

Shop Jenny's Picks

redondo button-up shirt

Regular price $207.00
Sale price $207.00 Regular price

cruz tank top

Regular price $75.00
Sale price $75.00 Regular price

topanga tee

Regular price $67.00
Sale price $67.00 Regular price

solana tee

Regular price $83.00
Sale price $83.00 Regular price