Fashion creative Erin Feniger Maggio is painting her way towards success through one pair of jeans at a time. In 2013, the Creative Director & Founder of Rialto Jean Project got the idea to paint denim jeans by watching fellow artists in their studios and further crafted her brand from her experience in Venice Beach. After opening storefronts in New York City and Los Angeles, she moved back to Toledo to further expand her brand and return to her hometown to be closer to family. According to Erin, here’s why Toledo inspired her business and her personal goals.
Describe yourself in one sentence: I’m extremely driven and focused, but with a very open heart.
What’s a personal goal or purpose in your life: I’ve been desperately trying to have a family and I will be having a baby in two months. It’s been a long journey to get here.
The best thing about Toledo: A lot of people forget the unique experience we all have on a daily basis to go visit the Toledo Art Museum. I’m not quite sure people grasp the enormity of what we have at our fingertips.
Local art that inspires me: Everyday local art, from the art museum to graffiti on the street. It’s all inspiring.
Favorite local spot: Georgio’s and Tolhouse.
Favorite local fashion icon or designer: Darryl Brown.
One thing I’d like to change about Toledo: I wish there was more socially to do. I don’t think there’s a lot of places in Toledo that create an engaging social atmosphere, like bigger cities have done.
What people don’t know about me is: I don’t like to shop with anybody else, I like to shop by myself. I like to move at my own pace.
I feel best when: I collaboratively am working with my team.
What keeps me motivated: My love of fashion keeps me motivated, my team and just exposing myself to new people and art. If I constantly do those things, I’m motivated.
What is the process for designing and painting each pair of jeans?
The process is different for each pair of jeans. Our splatter studio collection is inspired by different palettes, seasons and mood, and that’s the internal process of designing each pair of jeans. The external process is seeing each trend in fashion, looking forward to the next season and looking at the themes, palettes and florals with my team of artists.
How did you come up with the idea of using paint on jeans?
I was living at Venice Beach, California at the time, which is a community of a lot of different artists. And I’d see a specific group of girls walking around who had these baggy, old vintage jeans on with paint all over them. I was very inspired with the overall aesthetic of their look.
I knew if someone could recreate that authentic look of an artist in their studio, people would be drawn to buy those jeans. That’s when I reached out to artist friends to observe them in their studio and see the process of how they were painting, wiping their brushes from their canvas to their pants to keep that authenticity of the look.
What made you decide to open a storefront in Toledo?
We had storefronts in Los Angeles and New York. I was living in New York City up until three years ago. My husband and I moved back here to start a family — but we also saw an opportunity to get bigger space, manufacture our product and have a storefront at the same time. Plus it got me back home, near family.
What’s your goal for Rialto Jean Project?
We have many, but our main goal is to continue to grow as fashion grows, and expand our demographic of who we reach out to.
What’s an inspiring quote you’d like to mention for fellow artists: “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill.
Check out Rialto Jean Project at their website here or stop by their shop located on N. Summit St. near downtown Toledo.