When NYC native Julia Presten was in high school she founded ANGELIC NYC, a clothing company with a positive message and that donates to nonprofits. Today, Julia’s company is continuing to grow and she is looking forward to her junior year at UW-Madison this fall. With ANGELIC top of mind, Julia started off at SoHE majoring in Retailing and Consumer Behavior, but then switched to Human Development and Family Studies last year to find her true bliss. While home in Chelsea for the summer, we caught up with her to talk about her, her company, her future, and how she became human ecologist.
You’re an entrepreneur who’s going into her junior year at UW-Madison. Tell me a little about your clothing company, ANGELIC NYC, including how old you were when you started it and what inspired you.
I started my company when I was 17. I’d worked in retail, at an LA showroom, and helped run thrift sale fundraisers at my high school, so fashion, philanthropy and giving back are what I’ve always been interested in. One day I was sitting on my couch, not doing my ACT homework, and thought ‘I’m going to start a clothing brand and it’s going to be all about being a good person and everything is going to have angel wings!’ The next day at my high school, which has been really supportive and I couldn’t have done anything without them, I had to declare my independent study. I said, ‘I want to start a clothing company.’ After that my class time was spent going to the garment district, meeting with store owners and buyers, and figuring out how I was going to do this. Once my class was over I kept going. I set up the shopangelicnyc Instagram and started getting sample pieces
How did you come up with the garments?
A lot of people think I sew, but I cannot do any of that. I’m really about ethical fashion, so I contacted one of my favorite brands, good hYOUman, which is made in LA and is so soft and versatile…and started buying private label from them. Then I went to the garment district in New York and found places to put on wings and do the laser cutting. So, ANGELIC NYC is made in LA and produced in New York, where I’m from. Everything was ready during my senior year of high school spring break. It was so exciting. My mom and I were driving around delivering and shipping and the first 100 pieces sold out in nine days. During this time, I got into Wisconsin, so it was a very happy time.
Although you’re a SoHE student, you’re not a Textile and Fashion Design major. You’re a Human Development and Family Studies student. What attracts you to HDFS and what are your future plans with these studies?
I declared Retailing when I first got to Wisconsin because I wanted a major that would help my business. Through the Retail courses I took, Consuming Happiness and EcoYou—two of my favorite classes—I realized that although I love the business part of ANGELIC NYC, I’m a people person who wants to help others and give back. So, this year I switched to HDFS and I want to either teach the science of happiness, wellness, and kindness to kids or be a relationship and dating coach. If you had told me a year ago I was ditching the Retail major and would have a whole different mindset, I wouldn’t have believed you.
So you love your business, but you don’t see it as a career?
I used to think I wanted to. I love it, it will always be part of who I am and I’ve learned so much doing it, but there are other things for me. The business will always be there.
You mentioned Consuming Happiness and EcoYou, are there HDFS courses that have resonated with you?
I love Couples Relationships with Linda Roberts. I’m doing HDFS with an emphasis on relationship science. I seek out courses with ‘love’ or ‘relationship’ in the guide. Linda Roberts is great. She’s wonderful. Also, Christine Whelan is one of my favorite professors ever. She is my inspiration and she helps me a lot. In the fall, I’m taking Families and Finances, which is about relationships and money. I think one the best things about HDFS is that it’s so applicable to anything in life.
What do think about SoHE in general?
I my opinion SoHE is the best thing about Wisconsin. I went to a small high school so when I first came to school I was so overwhelmed. If it wasn’t for SoHE I don’t’ know what I would have done…We call teachers by their first names and they are so there for you and willing to help you. The teachers are so supportive.
What is keeping you busy in summer 2017?
For HDFS you need an internship to graduate. Because of ANGELIC, I’ve never had a real job, so this summer I’ll be working for a matchmaker.
Did you say matchmaker? So literally someone who sets people up in marriages?
Yes! I got a job working for Project Soulmate, a boutique match making company in New York City. My bosses are Lori Zaslow and Jenn Zucher who are incredible and they had a show on BRAVO TV called Love Broker. I will be doing social media, writing blog posts, meeting with clients, recruiting, and learning all about love and match making! I wanted to stay in the NYC for the summer and emailed a few dating apps, but they said they were too small of companies to take on interns. I think a big problem with a lot of dating applications is that they don’t use relationships science or have people who know about love, except for Tinder who has a sociologist. They just have business and tech people.
And you’re working on your business?
Yes. I started it in 2014 and I didn’t know any other young people who had a business. Now I have many friends who have companies. This time last year the NYC College Pop-Up Shop happened. Other kids with businesses all got together and we had a trunk show. This year it’s the 11th and 12th of June.
Liv Schreiber (fellow UW student) will also be there. She’s the best and we’ve done a lot of trunk shows together.
So college has allowed you to connect with other young business entrepreneurs?
Yeah. There are so many. There’s Marley Lazarus. She’s a Retail and Consumer Behavior major. She started Beaded by Marley and I’ve done many pop-up shops with her.
You’re also a student donor to SoHE. What is your inspiration to give back while still in college?
I love SoHE and honestly think everyone should be at SoHE. I tell everyone that and wish I’d known about SoHE when I first got to school. I thought I was going to study sociology or anthropology because I love people. And giving back is important to me.
What makes you a human ecologist?
It’s the study of humans, their environments, social aspects, so I think, for me, it’s that I’m inquisitive about others and how they became who they are. I’m also about SoHE’s collaborative spirit and forming relationships, being open minded, and learning from everyone. And I think what you learn from interacting others is just as important as what you can learn in the classroom. Learning from others and inspiring others, that makes me—and anyone—a human ecologist.
Providing Student Support
Annual gifts provide immediately available discretionary funds that the Dean uses for recruiting and producing SoHE’s leaders of tomorrow. Individual support makes a lasting impact on the lives of our talented young scholars by turning their dreams of an excellent education into reality.
Click “All Ways Forward” to start making a difference.