When Cissy Jones and Emily Cook first met each other over sushi rolls, fashion wasn’t on their minds. The Jones and Cook kids went to school together and the dads became acquaintances as a result, so they decided to double-date one night. “The conversation was all about kids, family and friends,” Cissy remembers.
It was the typical talk of adults with five children between them, all under the age of 7. But within that first year of friendship, Cissy and Emily started talking turkey as business partners and co-founders of SIX1FIVE, a women’s clothing collection that combines their individual strengths in design and accounting. So far the line has centered on vintage silks, military-inspired fabrics and furs. At first blush, it’s a boldly non-traditional aesthetic for the Dallas market. And even Cissy had her initial doubts about the concept Emily proposed while on a ski trip in Vail, Colorado.
“It was a crazy idea,” Cissy says of introducing refurbished furs. Even Emily admitted that it wasn’t an obvious design choice given the short period of time Dallas women are able to wear such heavy garments. “But everyone has their grandmother’s old mink,” she says, “so I thought we could cut them up and redesign them.”
Being a CPA, the creative side wasn’t Emily’s forte, but Cissy had a background in personal shopping and styling and once had a line of her own. She wasn’t a fur wearer herself (although that might have changed given the weather this winter), but she knew she could put her own stamp on Emily’s “off-the-wall” idea.
The result was SIX1FIVE, an eclectic but wearable union of grosgrain and camouflage, silks and animal furs that launched in fall 2012. Everything is one-of-a-kind in this locally made collection of mixed media; SIX1FIVE will take a handbag or shirt silhouette and allow clients to choose fabrics, colors and other details. Most women can appreciate the appeal of being out and about and not having the same bag or blouse as five other ladies. But it’s precisely that small-town aspect of living here that Cissy and Emily appreciate.
“I love the community and the involvement of the parents,” Emily says. As a business owner with two growing boys – Benton (8 years old, the football and art lover) and Thomas (6, the more laid-back one who’s also into sports) – Emily is usually available whenever her sons need her, but she can also call a parent down the street and ask her to do afternoon pick-up if she and husband Ben are in a pinch.
Similarly, Cissy finds Dallas to be a “great place to raise kids,” where she can do about 90 percent of SIX1FIVE business while her three children are in school. Elle (8 years old and obsessed with soccer and basketball), her twin brother Hudson (who’s into anything and everything football) and Georgia (7, the funny one who loves to go places) keep Cissy and her husband Craig on their toes when it comes to work and play. “We have the same expectations, so that works well for us,” Cissy says, noting her husband’s Type A personality matched with being a genuinely fun dad.
Born and raised in Dallas, Cissy hopes to give her kids the same kind of childhood she had – the core being unconditional love and support. Mirroring the way Mom was raised, the Joneses sit down and have family dinners as often as possible. Of course, they’re also big on good manners and have rules for the dinner table: no television, no phones, no distractions. “Parenting is hands-down the most challenging job you will ever have,” Cissy says. “It’s also the most rewarding.”
Keeping up with the Joneses, Emily runs a tight ship while Ben is often the more relaxed parent. Originally from Little Rock, Emily grew up with three brothers, and all four siblings are still close as adults. Coming from a tight-knit family, she’s keen on instilling that same closeness in her own foursome, taking them to Dallas Children’s Theater and the Perot Museum.
But while both moms seem to share a passion for helping their kids understand their place in the world, they say it can be a challenge in Dallas, especially as children get older. Emily notes that living here is a bit like being in a bubble, and Cissy is quick to add that almost every child has an iPad. “That’s not normal,” she says with a shake of her head.
“That’s the struggle,” Emily chimes in. “To make sure expectations are in line with reality.”
That reasonable goal is perhaps why they’d like to acquire reps in different cities as they grow SIX1FIVE, so they don’t have to travel and leave their families behind. “Sometimes it’s hard to transition between work and home life,” Emily says. “I try to stay focused and give all of my attention to the realm that I am in at the time.”
Making a burgeoning fashion business fit into their larger lives as moms, Cissy and Emily sell and market SIX1FIVE in whatever ways work best for them and their clients. Their e-commerce site (shopsix1five.com) is the quickest way women can find and buy the goods. Selling to local boutiques would be a natural next step, but big retail chains are another world entirely. They’re keeping an open mind but “taking baby steps” and seeing where it takes them.
“It’s been growing organically,” Emily says of how the made-to-order merchandise has been gaining popularity by word of mouth. Just a little something extra for Dallas moms to talk about.
Published March 2014