Rudes Sandel, 45, now lives in Beverly Hills with her husband, Alex Sandel, a semiretired engineer who runs NYDJ’s international division, and their 16-month-old son, Max Isaac. Last summer, NYDJ sold half the company to a private equity firm. Rudes Sandel is still very involved in design and marketing, and she serves as the company spokeswoman.
So what’s on her drawing board? Tummy Tuck leggings, slimming tops (“to get rid of lines and bulges from bras”), and a maternity line.
“The truth is,” Rudes Sandel says, “I’ve never forgotten that woman I’ve been aiming for since day one.” She addresses her personally in a note tucked into every pair of jeans: “NYDJ (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans) cannot be held responsible for any positive consequence that may arise due to your fabulous appearance when wearing the Tummy Tuck jeans. You can thank me later.”
Getting Ahead with Lisa Rudes Sandel
Q. How did you come up with the name?
A. Actually, my dad did. We were in my backyard, and he said, “Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. That’s what we’ll call them.” I thought he was crazy. And he said, “Watch, my darling daughter. I know what I’m talking about.”
Q. What was your father’s best advice?
A. That if you have a great fit, you will always have a customer.
Q. As your business has grown, has it gotten any easier?
A. Once consumers accepted our product, yes. Our numbers are still up, even in this economy.
Q. What advice would you give a budding entrepreneur?
A. Don’t give up. It’s not about how much money you put into your business. It’s about being passionate—willing to go that extra mile to put your idea out there.
Q. Were there early signs of entrepreneurial tendencies?
A. I took a high school photography course, and a friend in the entertainment business hired me to do photo shoots for her clients. I did this for about a year, and some were actually published in the Hollywood Reporter.
Q. Do you ever hear from your customers?
A. One 50-year-old woman had a rough year—her mom died, her marriage ended, her job was reorganized. After buying a pair of Tummy Tuck jeans, she wrote, “Thank you for thinking of women like me. In your thoughtful design and style, you have helped me start to get back a little confidence.” We got a complaint letter from a guy in New Zealand: “After 15 years of marriage, I’m having difficulty keeping my hands off my babe. You don’t do jeans for blokes, do you?”