Jennifer ’05 and Kimberly ’05 Gennace, graduates of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) apparel merchandising and design (AMD) program, have been inducted into the College of Applied Science and Technology’s Academy of Achievement. They continue to show passion and dedication to their field daily.

The Gennace sisters were born in Park Ridge and grew up in a household where they were exposed to entrepreneurship at a young age. Their father owned his own custom-home company and their mom was very creative, showcasing her one-of-a-kind designs at local craft fairs. These qualities were instilled in the sisters, as they explored creative hobbies such as jewelry making, crafts, and sewing. During high school, they took their first jewelry and metal design class, as well as other creative electives such as fashion design, studio art, and photography. The exposure to these creative classes fueled their creativity for their future career.

After graduation from Adlai E. Stevenson High School and being accepted into Illinois State University, they couldn’t wait to start their fashion courses in Turner Hall. They embraced every opportunity, such as finding internships their first semester with a local fashion designer and working with her for all four years during college. They also were members of Apparel Merchandising and Design Association (AMDA) for four years and took part in the fashion shows at the end of each school year. They also saw the value in teaching other students what they learned and became teaching assistants for their open lab sewing. The ultimate experience came with their two study abroad trips with their graduating class to Europe (Italy, France, and England), where they were immersed in the fashion culture of each area and visited major fashion houses like Vivienne Westwood, Yves Saint Laurent, Marni, Fendi, and Zandra Rhodes.

Jennifer Gennace interned at Claire’s Accessories during her junior year and was offered a job after graduation working with the product development team, designing novelty accessories. Kimberly Gennace interned for Banana Republic in sales during her junior year and was introduced to the world of visual merchandising and styling, where she received an offer to work with the visual merchandising team at J.Crew after school.

Since Claire’s, Jennifer Gennace has worked for various companies consulting in fashion and beauty products, and has most recently consulted for Claire’s Accessories on the new Katy Perry Jewelry Collection where she was the head designer for the celebrity collection launch. This experience led her to have both the creative and the analytical mindset to launch her own business.

At J.Crew, Kimberly Gennace led the visual merchandising team in women’s, men’s, and kids’. This experience moved her into a visual merchandising role at Nordstrom and in turn, brought her to the Nordstrom corporate office to work with the fashion office in fashion trend forecasting as a consultant. Kimberly Gennace analyzed fashion trends in accessories around the world to predict future styles, products, and categories that would be sold in Nordstrom.

While working in their new jobs, the sisters were brainstorming for their jewelry brand, IANNECI. During their career, they’ve learned different areas of the fashion industry to help fuel their jewelry brand, which offers hand-crafted, edgy, sophisticated jewelry, encompassing delicate and bold pieces. The sisters pent seven months in New York where they worked on marketing their jewelry line to New York retailers. They lived in Manhattan and explored the city inside and out to network with industry peers and became fashion assistants for GenArt during Fashion Week to cast models in the fashion show for emerging designers. The sisters have moved back to Chicago, ready to make a permanent home for IANNECI Jewelry.

Currently with IANNECI, Jennifer Gennace manages the business side such as accounting, website construction and content, client outreach, marketing initiatives, and branding. Kimberly Gennace focuses on the design direction including concepts, mood boards, and trend inspiration of current and future seasons. Both designers plan their trunk show schedule, social media, events, collaborations, press releases, production, and new store accounts.

Jennifer and Kimberly Gennace feel that life is about change and being courageous, taking risks, pushing yourself to do good, be better, and live a life that is truly fulfilling. They want other people to live life abundantly, and it is their desire to create a movement in the fashion industry that will change not only creators, designers, and artists but their surroundings.