With a degree in psychology, Alice Heller, a native New Yorker, started her career at Levi Strauss’s marketing department then went on to become the head of the jeans and t-shirt division at Esprit. It was there that she worked side by side with Doug Tompkins, founder of Esprit, who became the mentor in her life. Working with Tompkins had a lasting and profound change in Heller’s views and understanding of what it meant to build a name, a brand and an identity. From there, Heller went on to launch her immediately successful t-shirt company, Zooey, in 2003. The success led to the selling of the company within a short time and Heller stayed on board for another couple years as the president of Zooey.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Grace Chon had a more traditional route to the fashion industry. Originally accepted to the Art Center to pursue a career in graphic design, Chon changed her college plans and attended OTIS for its fashion program. Chon worked with Heller as a designer at Zooey in 2007 and from there went on to work with the label 291 Venice in 2009. The two came together again in 2011 to create the next best thing: Love, Zooey.