Sticky Lawyers

A Passion for Fashion (and Law)

May 26, 2021 John Reed Episode 6
Sticky Lawyers
A Passion for Fashion (and Law)
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered what an attorney in the fashion industry does? In our ongoing pursuit to spotlight Sticky Lawyers, we found a fashion lawyer who has created a fascinating niche for herself, beginning in law school when she was busting blue jean counterfeiters in LA’s Santee Alley.

 Meet Jenny Wu, today’s guest with a style all her own. Through fearless determination and moxie, she’s found legal roles with a premium denim label, an international fashion and accessories brand, and a company that builds brands for fashion influencers. 

 Oh, and she also appeared on (and nearly won) television’s “The Amazing Race.”

 Jenny explains the intriguing details of how she built her expertise in fashion law and shares how a little fear and her parents’ courageous example have fueled her drive to compete and win. 

Enjoy this fascinating and lively conversation with Jenny Wu.

John: [00:00:00] If I said the word “fashion,” what comes to mind? It's certainly not my wardrobe. But seriously, what do you think of? Clothing by designer labels, models on runways, striking a pose? Now, what if I said, “fashion law”? 

[00:00:20] See, this is what I love about niches. For pretty much every aspect of our lives, even the clothes we wear, there's a lawyer. Attorneys in the fashion industry do a lot of different things. They facilitate the procurement of materials and packaging. They negotiate leases for studios. They help make garments appear on virtual and brick and mortar racks. They watch over copyrights and trademarks and enforce their company's brands.

[00:00:51] There are probably some general corporate attorneys out there saying, "So what? Big deal. I handle that same type of work for my company in another vertical." And that may be true, but you're still not a fashion lawyer. Even the name is cool. 

[00:01:06] Now let's go one step further, actually several thousand miles further. How many lawyers do you know who raced around the reality TV world like a modern day, globetrotting Phileas Fogg? I know exactly one. And she's my guest today. 

[00:01:25] I'm John Reed, and this is Sticky Lawyers, a podcast, featuring conversations with attorneys who differentiate themselves through the relationships they cultivate with clients and influencers and the unique nature of their law practices.

[00:01:39] Jenny Wu is high energy and she's bad ass. She's fearless and spontaneous, resilient, and driven. Her focus in law school was completely different from the path she ultimately took, but a chance meeting made her pivot - one of a few she's made. We'll hear about that, her career in fashion and how she became a finalist on CBS's “The Amazing Race.” I am so pumped to have her on the show today. 

[00:02:04] Jenny, welcome. 

Jenny: [00:02:06] Thank you so much for having me. 

John: [00:02:08] We've got a lot of things to talk about, or you've got a load of stories to share, but let's start with your, what I call the “origin story.” So, fill in the blanks for me. Your initial plan coming out of law school was to be a, what? 

Jenny: [00:02:22] A lawyer? 

John: [00:02:24] I guess I was going for the corporate law thing.

Jenny: [00:02:26] Yeah, going to a law firm doing what all of my peers and classmates were doing, going through the interviews, trying to get a summer internship at one of the tall buildings in downtown LA, and becoming a lawyer because that was what I had known. 

John: [00:02:43] And you even spent a summer at a big law firm, too. So, you were already heading down that path. 

Jenny: [00:02:47] Absolutely. I spent a summer staring – yes -- inside the walls of O'Melveny and Myers in LA. And of course, once you're actually in there, you think it's going to be one experience. And then I realized I had just spent my summer reviewing through hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, redacting. Basically, I was the computer version of copy and paste, copy and find. So, that's what I did. 

John: [00:03:17] So what happened? You’re headed down this path and then what caused you to pivot?

Jenny: [00:03:21] I was going through the motions, interviewing at the law firms for these coveted summer internship positions. And it didn't feel completely right. It just didn't feel like a good fit with any of the firms that I was interviewing for. So, I definitely had my reservations, but because everybody was doing it, I was like, “Oh, this is what I need to do,” because it seemed to be the quote-unquote “right thing to do.”

[00:03:44] And so in the middle of that, I saw that the business school at USC, our next door neighbor, they were hosting an event. And the speaker at this event was going to be Jeff Lubell, who was the former CEO and founder of True Religion jeans. True Religion jeans at the time was the “it” denim brand.

[00:04:04] This was during the time when denim brands in LA specifically were having their moment in fashion, and all the celebrities were wearing Jeff Lubell’s True Religion jeans. We're talking about Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson, the OG “it” girls of that time. So, I was very excited to hear him speak.

[00:04:23] I went to the business school. I was so inspired by what he had to say. He had started a few other denim brands before True Religion jeans and they all flopped. And I think he was down to his last $100,000. It was a “make it or break it” moment for him to start True Religion jeans with his wife.

[00:04:42] And they didn't have any money to do any actual marketing or to hire a PR firm. So, what he did was he would be at a gas station, spot attractive looking women, and just hand them his jeans. It was like guerrilla-style marketing. And I just loved that he got into the trenches and was doing it. This was so creative.

[00:05:02] So, after he spoke, I went up to him and I was like, “Listen, Mr. Lubell. I just wanted to introduce myself. I'm Jenny, I'm a law student. I'm not quite a lawyer yet, but I would love to work for you. I just think you're inspiring. The company’s inspiring. If there's anything I can do for you -- I have one full year of law school under my belt, so I know some stuff, but let's see what we can do.”

[00:05:26] And he looked at me, took my information and was very gracious. And a few days later, his chief operating officer, she calls me and was like, “Hey, come in for an interview. I think we might have something for you.” So, I was the first person in their legal department. I was the legal department at True Religion jeans.

[00:05:43] And I basically worked there my second year of law school. That summer when all of my friends were at the law firms, I was in Vernon working for True Religion jeans. And what I was in charge of was implementing counterfeit measures. 

John: [00:06:01] What did you know about fashion law on day one? You walk in, you are now the defacto legal department. Had you done any sort of coursework or intellectual property classes or anything in law school that would have prepared you? 

Jenny: [00:06:14] I had taken one IP law class at USC. And that was the extent of my knowledge. I did not even know fashion law really existed. In fact, I think it was a term that kind of really came to once I started my career as “a fashion lawyer.” 

[00:06:33] I didn't know what I was getting myself into at True Religion, but I just knew that this was where I wanted to be. And that there could be a place, and if not, I could carve out a place for myself at this company.

John: [00:06:45] What grabbed you? What was the flame? You just said, “This is the place where I want to be.” Why? Was it the environment? Was it the subject matter? Was it the industry? What got its hooks in you?

Jenny: [00:06:56] I’ve always been very interested and passionate about fashion, and I’ve always just loved the energy of being around creatives, designers. And in LA, you can't really escape that. So, for me to be at a place where I could bring together my education, my legal background, and also that passion for that industry in general, to me, that was just perfect. I really found something like a niche that could be something long-term for me.

John: [00:07:26] You're so fortunate. So many people just don't find that. They can't get the stars to line up like that. That's fantastic. 

[00:07:34] In my very limited knowledge of fashion law, what I do think I understand is over pretty much every other type of garment, jeans are the most counterfeited, if that's the right term. I'm wondering what makes counterfeit jeans fake? What is it about them that makes them so counterfeited and why do they rise to the top of the list like that?

Jenny: [00:07:57] At the time, denim was just going through its fashion revolution and it was all about the “it” jeans, which were A7 jeans, Citizens of Humanity, True Religion. They were on the top of the list in terms of what people were coveting. And I think the reason why is because that was when denim started to really have this sense of identity attached to it. 

[00:08:20] With True Religion jeans, it was very distinct. They had the curve-like bell shape on the pockets. So, there were very distinct identifiers. And so, people associated these identifiers with every kind of different label, right? It's “Okay, this is who you are. This is your image.” This is also the first time where jeans were elevated to the place of premium denim and all of a sudden, jeans were $180. That was the starting price range. 

[00:08:47] True Religion jeans, they range from $180 all the way to $330. So, it became a status symbol. And of course, anytime something rises to a status symbol, you get a lot of people who want it, but don't really want to pay the premium price for it. 

[00:09:03]There was just a huge explosion of counterfeits mainly coming from China, and they were making their way over to every part of the country. But in LA specifically, there was an area in downtown called Santee Alley where a lot of the jeans were sold. Not only were they sold there, but there were warehouses nearby that were just housing tens of thousands of pairs of jeans. 

John: [00:09:27] Again, back to my fashion naivete here. Apart from the label and the logo, what can you protect about a pair of jeans? Is the stitching something that you can get a copyright for or a trademark for? Help me understand what about the product you can protect under IP law. 

Jenny: [00:09:46] Obviously, trademark is the first that comes to mind. You can get trademark protection for the label itself. In True Religion’s instance -- and this was unique to True Religion -- they actually had design patents for the stitching because it was, I think the first denim brand to have double stitching. Jeff Lubell was smart enough to get that patented. And so that afforded us another level of protection. 

[00:10:16] And then, of course, there is trade dress protection as well. The identifier was the little cow bell on the pockets. And so even if they looked very similar, you could make a trade dress argument as well. So, there were several layers of protection for them. 

John: [00:10:33] When a company like True Religion learns of some bad guy out there counterfeiting their jeans, what would you as their intellectual property enforcement counsel then do at that point, now in your second year of law school? 

Jenny: [00:10:50] The first piece was to send out cease and desist letters, these scary sounding letters that basically put the offenders on notice. And of course, if things escalated in which they did not comply, then I would refer them out to outside counsel. We would discuss whether we needed to start implementing litigation against the infringers. And sometimes when it was more of a local case, when we knew that there were suppliers storing the jeans in warehouses and locations throughout LA, I would actually go with our investigator. And we would go and do a search and I'd try to confiscate the products so that we would have the evidence.

[00:11:32] And the reason why I needed to go was because they needed someone from inside True Religion jeans to identify the jeans; to say, “Yes, these jeans are counterfeit.” And I had to list on that affidavit the reasons why they were counterfeit so that if local law enforcement wanted to take criminal action against the counterfeiters, they could.

John: [00:11:52] Tell me about the first time you ever did this. How long were you with the company? And tell me what went down. 

Jenny: [00:11:58] Yeah. This is probably within the first week, because I think they were just relieved that they finally had somebody on the inside who could go with the investigators to do this. And we'd drive to downtown to Santee Alley. And then behind Santee Alley there were just -- they look like small office buildings, but no windows, nothing.

[00:12:19] And then we met up with local law enforcement and I'm like, “Whoa, this is getting serious.” I thought we were just here with our investigator. And they're starting to talk and organize a plan. And they're like, “Okay, it's time. We're going to do this.” And then they had these long things that I've seen on “Law and Order” where they try to bust the door. And I was like, “Whoa, what are we doing here?” I had no idea that this was going down. So, they knocked the door down and from the ceiling all the way to the ground, just jeans. Boxes and boxes filled with True Religion jeans. There must've been tens of thousands of pairs.

[00:13:00] And I was just so shocked, and it always just seemed like a scene out of a movie. And they were able to find the person who was working there, and they arrested him. He was in handcuffs and they were going through the boxes. They're taking out packages and they're like, “Hey Jenny, can you tell us why these are counterfeit?” And I'm giving my statement. It was just such a surreal moment. And then I remember thinking, “Wow, this is what I am doing my first week on the job. I wonder what my friends are doing at their law firm gigs right now. Yeah, they're probably just sitting behind their desks, writing a brief or something.” And I'm like, “Yeah, I think I definitely made the right decision.” 

[00:13:41] It felt great to be in the middle of the action to be able to effectively do something in my very first week of not really knowing anything. 

John: [00:13:50] I'm blown away by that. You couldn't have prepared for that. 

Jenny: [00:13:53] No, it was a really defining moment for me, for sure. 

John: [00:13:57] So, you graduate from law school, then what happened? Didn't go back to True Religion. What happened? 

Jenny: [00:14:02] I had to take some time off to study for the bar. And by the time I was finished doing that, they finally actually had in-house counsel. They had a general counsel  and they didn't really have the budget to hire an associate or a junior in-house counselor. And I totally understood, and I started job searching.

[00:14:22] But this time I knew exactly what type of companies I wanted to target. I wanted to work in-house. And I wanted to work for a fashion company. And I know that was a very, kind of, lofty goal for a new lawyer, but I was like, “You know what? I'm going to just see what's out there. Who knows?” I do have some experience at True Religion and they're a fantastic company.

[00:14:45] Everybody knows True Religion, maybe that will give me some clout to find something. I job searched and I found a company. I found tokidoki. They are a small fashion company in LA. They are a character-based company. They’re Hello Kitty, but an edgier version, a more bad-ass version of Hello Kitty.

[00:15:04] Because they are character-based, they actually had a lot of issues with copyrights and trademarks. They also did a lot of licensing with other companies all over the world, so they actually had quite the need for in-house counsel. So, I interviewed with them and I was hired first as an associate counsel.

[00:15:25] They had a GC at the time, but she left shortly after I got there. And so, I was promoted to general counsel of tokidoki.

John: [00:15:33] Unbelievable. I think you're underselling it. tokidoki, now at least, is a multimillion dollar international fashion and accessories brand. And regardless, at that time you're barely two years out of law school and you're the general counsel for this company. 

Jenny: [00:15:49] Yeah. They've been doing really well. And what makes tokidoki really unique and special is the collaboration they do. They've had collaborations with Mattel, with Marvel, with Sanrio, with LeSportsac -- a lot of the major brands. So, working on their copyright trademark portfolio, working on licensing agreements, the company definitely kept me very busy, and I was able to see their expansion while I was there.

John: [00:16:19] What are you feeling at that point in time? What are you thinking on day one as general counsel? How did I get here? Were you overwhelmed? 

Jenny: [00:16:26] I was excited, overwhelmed – sure – but I think by then I learned that it’s actually great to always feel a little bit of fear, a little bit of, “What am I doing?” I think it's great to feel that because then it just fuels your drive to be constantly learning and to constantly try to outperform yourself. And to be better at your job. So now I feel like I thrive on that feeling, a little bit of an easiness. Or in the beginning, I didn't really know how to harness that feeling of energy. Now I'm like, “You know what? I'm going to use that to my advantage and just keep growing. “

John: [00:17:08] So, there came a point when you decided to leave tokidoki, and to do what? Tell us about what came next. 

Jenny: [00:17:14] I started a blog. At that time, the fashion beauty blogs were sort of in their infancy stage, but people were becoming more and more interested. So, I started my blog and then after a while I started getting paid to write blog posts about fashion and about beauty. And then I started getting invited to things like Milan Fashion Week and going to London to see Jay Z and Justin Timberlake perform. So, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I feel like this is becoming something.”

[00:17:49] This could become a business. And I made a very hard decision of I think it's time for me to take some time off from my legal career and to focus on this new burgeoning industry and see where this takes me. And that was quite the ride. 

[00:18:09] The name of my blog is Good, Bad and Fab. And there were definitely some very fabulous moments during that time period. Just getting to attend red carpet premiers and parties and the fashion events and being able to just converse with designers that I've always idolized. It was such a surreal moment and surreal time. 

John: [00:18:32] What a thrill ride. I can't help but think that Jeff Lubell would've given you a pair of jeans at that point, because you were an influencer, right? 

Jenny: [00:18:41] Actually, yes! This was years later, but actually their marketing department contacted me not knowing my past connection to the company and they were like, “Hey, we want to collab with you.” Interesting. 

John: [00:18:54] You have obviously proven that one can monetize a blog. At the time, there were no handbooks for this. You were writing the story as it went along. 

Jenny: [00:19:03] Yeah, for sure. I connected with a very great network of fashion bloggers in LA, and we supported each other through this journey because we were all maintaining our own businesses. I think what was very challenging about blogging was exercising both that creative side of me and also the business. And how do I combine the two and balance the two so that I can continue to drive this business forward?

[00:19:32] Because at that point, when I had quit tokidoki, it became a business of maintaining my blog. So, that was a new challenge that I hadn't really faced before. Because previously, I was always working for someone. Now I'm held accountable to myself. 

John: [00:19:48] So Good, Bad and Fab is still a thing, it's still going, but you were able to take what you learned during that time and then go back in-house. Could you tell us what Instaco is and what you did there? 

Jenny: [00:20:02] I would say the driving force behind me going back in-house was I had a baby and I was at a stage in my life where I was like, okay. Because when you're a blogger, you live a pretty nomadic lifestyle. It's a lot of traveling, a lot of going to different places. And I think once I had a baby, it really grounded me literally and figuratively. So, I was like, “I think I need to revisit law.” And this opportunity actually just came up: Instaco. They are a company that creates and builds fashion brands for influencers.

[00:20:39] So it was really just the perfect marriage of everything that I had been working on before. I knew the influencer industry. I know fashion. I know law. So, it just worked out really well. I was their general counsel and head of business development. I worked with Hollywood agents and managers and influencers to put together licensing deals. But this time I was on the licensee side, whereas at tokidoki we were always the licensor in deals. Now I was the licensee, and the influencer was the licensor who was licensing their brand and their likeness and their image to put on the fashion brands.

[00:21:21] It was very fast-paced and I really enjoyed that time, too. It was familiar in terms of the legal work that I was doing, but the environment was completely new, and it was an environment that didn't even exist a few years ago. And I think that's what made it all the more exciting.

John: [00:21:38] General counsel and in charge of business development. Was your own influencer status a door opener for you? Did people know you not as somebody from Instaco necessarily, but because of Good, Bad and Fab (and now child) that you were getting in the door and talking to people?

Jenny: [00:21:57] Well, listen, my blog was certainly not on the level of these influencers who have millions of followers and subscribers, but it definitely helped in that I knew the industry in and out. And so, I was able to preempt their questions and provide them with the answers. And I think it definitely made them comfortable knowing that I was somebody who was so immersed in that industry and knew about the industry on that level.

John: [00:22:23] You could tell them the questions they should be asking you, you had written the book by then, right? Tell us what you're doing now.

Jenny: [00:22:31] Right now -- for the past year with the pandemic—I have been acting as outside counsel for creatives, designers, people who are starting their own brands like startups, and even influencers. So, it's been great. I really enjoy it because for me, my whole philosophy on my legal career has been, I want to be able to directly affect change in a positive way. I want to help people with my knowledge of the law, and I never felt that I could have done that at a law firm. Because we all know a lot of what lawyers at law firms do, at least in the first few years, is really just pushing papers and I want to be able to help. I want to be able to affect change as quickly and as directly as possible. And I feel like now what I am doing -- and serving as basically outside legal counsel to these artists and designers and creatives -- I'm able to do that immediately. I see the result immediately and it makes me really happy.

[00:23:34] And they're so appreciative. They are so immersed in the creative process that sometimes they don't know how to protect themselves from certain legal ramifications and the legal elements of starting a business. 

John: [00:23:48] Because of your creative passion, though, you're not the “doom and gloom” lawyer. You don't come in and say, “Oh, you can't do this, or you must do this,” because you speak their language and share their fire for that, whatever it may be, medium. You're a good comrade to have. You're a comrade in arms.

Jenny: [00:24:07] I understand what they're going through. For me, it's about figuring out the most efficient, effective way of helping them reach their goals. To me, that's the most fulfilling part. 

John: [00:24:18] We're going to take a short break, but when we come back, Jenny's going to take us on an amazing race. So, stay tuned, 

[00:26:12] We are back with fashion lawyer turned branding, entrepreneur, Jenny Wu. So, Jenny, let's go back to 2015. What was going on in your life at that point? 

Jenny: [00:26:23] I was a full-time blogger living that nomadic lifestyle.

John: [00:26:29] Hitting the runways in Milan. Absolutely. 

Jenny: [00:26:32] Yeah. And I was also going through some personal stuff in my life. I was going through a really bad breakup at the time. And I remember I was at a 4th of July party with my friends -- with some of my best friends -- and one of my friends and I had a few drinks at that point and we were sitting by the pool and she was kind of going through something similar.

[00:26:57] And we said we should do something. And I was like, “We should go on ‘The Amazing Race.’” She was like, “What?” Yeah, you know, that would be perfect.  My friend, she's a journalist so she also lives a very nomadic lifestyle. We love to travel. We're always on the go.

[00:27:14] We are looking for something in our life right now. Why don't we just try it. Let's see. And she's like, “Are they even casting? What do you know about ‘The Amazing Race?’” I'm like, “Not much, but I’ve seen a few seasons; it's a great show. It's quality reality TV, and they get to travel the world. Let's just try.” So, I pull out my phone and I'm like, “Oh my gosh.

[00:27:33] They're actually casting right now. This is fate. We have to do this.” “Okay. Well, what do you have to do?” I was like, “Okay, we have to make a video. We have to submit it.” And it was a long weekend. So, we actually ended up going to our elementary school where we shot this video and submitted it.

John: [00:27:52] What are you drinking that caused you to think of “The Amazing Race,” as opposed to anything else? 

Jenny: [00:27:58] I have no idea. Maybe I've watched the show before. I loved it. And for some reason, just the idea of not being in LA at the time and being somewhere else and going on this completely wild experience. 

[00:28:15] I didn't think I was going to get cast on the show. Let's be clear, when I brought this up to my friend, it was really just something that came to mind half-jokingly. But then also, because we just tend to follow through on what we like talk about, we did it. After I submitted the tape, I didn't really think anything of it.

[00:28:33] I was like, “Tens of thousands of people probably submit their tapes.” But a day later, I get a call from one of the casting people and they're like, “Hey, we saw your video. You guys are great. And we would like to talk to you a little bit further about ‘The Amazing Race.’”

[00:28:51] And I was like, “Okay, do you want to talk to my friend too?” And they were like, “Actually we're doing things a little bit differently this season where we're pairing up single people to race together. And your friend said she was in a long-term relationship. So unfortunately, we can't move forward with her.”

[00:29:08]So I called my friend, because I felt really bad. We were supposed to go on this amazing journey together. She was very supportive. So, I got her blessing and I continued in the casting process. It was pretty rigorous. I was submitting videos almost every week, but every time it was like, “Okay, congratulations. You’re moving on to the next round. You’re moving on to the next one. You’re moving on to the next round.”

 [00:29:30] Until one Friday afternoon, I got an email from them saying, “Sorry, Jenny.” I think that email was nice. It was like, “We don't have a place for you this season, but basically keep trying, good luck.” At first, I was definitely sad, disappointed. But then I was like, “They said, no, but I'm not going to take that. Not just yet. I'm going to keep trying.” 

John: [00:29:55] So, let me stop you because I want you to tell the story, but there are some strong similarities about how you got your first job, your law job at True Religion, and how you were ultimately selected to be on “The Amazing Race,” right? 

Jenny: [00:30:11] Yeah. I just think there's always a chance. There's always an opportunity. You just have to, if you want something, just fight for it, and try hard enough. And until you've exhausted all your resources, I don't tend to take no at first glance. 

[00:30:27] It just so happened that weekend, the MTV Movie Awards and the Emmys were taking place and I was invited to attend the Emmys and also their afterparty, the Governor's Ball. So, I was like, “Oh, ‘The Amazing Race’ is nominated for an Emmy. They're always nominated every single year for best reality show. That means the entire team will be there. So, maybe I can try to find, I don't know, maybe the creator of ‘The Amazing Race.’ 

[00:30:55] So he's a few steps above the casting director. Maybe I can talk to him and convince him to let me back on the show.” I'm at the Emmys, “The Amazing Race” -- they win for best reality show. So, I'm like, “This is great. They're going to be in such a good mood when I approach them at the Governor's Ball.”

[00:31:11] I was clapping so hard when I heard they won. So afterwards we go to the Governor's Ball and it is amazing. People are dancing on the ceiling, there's tons of food and crazy stuff everywhere. And all I'm focused on is how do I find the creator of “The Amazing Race”?

[00:31:33] Oh, there he is. He's sitting down. I run up to him. No, not run. I casually walk up to him, but inside I was shaking, just feeling all this adrenaline and excitement. And I go up to him and I'm like, “You don't know me, but my name is Jenny Wu and I had applied to be on ’The Amazing Race.’ And I got pretty far, but you guys cut me on Friday, and I just think that you've made a mistake and I should be on your show because (I gave a bunch of  reasons. I don't even remember what).” And he takes one look at me and I was thinking, “Okay, either he's either going to think I'm really crazy, or maybe he'll be impressed.”

[00:32:11] And he says, “Okay.” And I'm like, “Okay?” “Yeah. Okay. Yeah, okay that makes sense. Okay. We'll let you back on the show. Lynn is the casting director. Lynn, come over here. Lynn, this is Jenny. You cut her from the show on Friday. I think you should put her back on.”

[00:32:26] And that was it. “Okay, thank you. Have a great night.”

John: [00:32:31] How long between that night and the start of the race? 

Jenny: [00:32:35] A few months. And during that time period, I watched every single season, taking down notes. I’ve got to figure out what is the strategy here? What's my play? Taking down meticulous notes. I went to REI at least three times a week, talking to their sales staff about, “So, hypothetically, if I were to go away for a month and I needed to maybe sometimes camp outside, maybe there's rain, but I want to keep my backpack really light.

[00:33:06] Maybe I have to walk through different kinds of terrain or run or do a bunch of stuff. What do you think I should have in this backpack of mine?” And they were very intrigued, like, “Where's this girl going? And is giving us all vague questions.” I try to be very prepared. Because for me, I didn't really have any expectation that I was going to really win “The Amazing Race,” but I just don't want to finish last.

John: [00:33:32] And where did you go? 

Jenny: [00:33:35] It was this park outside of LA near Magic Mountain. That was where I first met my teammate Jelani at the starting line. So, we got introduced and immediately Phil the host of the show was like, “All right, you guys are off to your race.”

John: [00:33:48] Yeah. And this is the singles show, too. So, you’ve got that whole thing in the background.

Jenny: [00:33:52] Half of the cast were singles paired up on this blind date and then the other half were dating couples. Before the starting line, we were all in our rooms, trying to get dolled up, look nice because, okay, this is our debut on “The Amazing Race.” We wanted to look cute.

[00:34:06] And then as soon as it started, I dropped into the mud. I was trying to traverse through this obstacle course. There was ice water at one point where -- like an ice bath -- and you're just like trying to get through it as quickly as I could, my hair and makeup ruined. And I was like, “Okay, this is reality. Now this is ‘The Amazing Race.’ That's what I signed up for. 

[00:34:26] And then immediately after that, we had to drive to LAX and get on a plane to Tokyo. So, we went to Tokyo. From Tokyo, we went to Bangkok. And then we were in Munich for a bit. We were in Amsterdam, made our way to Africa, to Namibia. We went to Peru. 

John: [00:34:47] So all told, how much time and how many countries?

Jenny: [00:34:50] In the span of 21 days, we went to 11 countries and covered probably about 30,000 miles.

[00:34:57]Yeah, the very end of our race, the final leg, was in Texas. It was in Dallas, Texas, at the place where they play football, that stadium. It was such a life-changing experience, and also just a very empowering moment for me because I went on the race, just wanting an adventure, not because I felt like I was really going to win it. So, to have gone that far and to have made it to second place and traveled around the world. And to have been able to do it on my own. Obviously, I had a great partner in Jelani, but it wasn't like I was going with someone. I knew it was me trying to prove and support Jelani with my abilities when trying to work together as a team.

[00:35:46] It was such an empowering moment, 

John: [00:35:49] But to be clear, there were no warm fuzzies between you and Jelani. Nothing happened. You're just friends. 

Jenny: [00:35:55] No, it was not The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. 

John: [00:35:59] Okay, good. Let's look back here for a second. All the things you've done, starting with going up to the True Religion founder to becoming the first ever GC at one company and then taking over as GC at another.

[00:36:15] And then, of course, being an influencer blogger. And then “The Amazing Race.” Where does all this come from? You don't learn to do this stuff. Where is that in you? 

Jenny: [00:36:24] I think it goes back to my parents. They immigrated here from China when I was seven years old.

[00:36:31] And at the time, they came here with $200 in their pockets. $200. My dad cleaned houses while getting his PhD at Berkeley. My mom, I mean, she couldn't find a job for the longest time. And in China she was working at a multinational corporation. But they persevered through that and they remained positive through it all and believed that through hard work they could get through it. And they did.

[00:37:01] They've achieved so much with so little. And I think when I see that and I see how they've been able to really achieve the American dream, for me, well then everything that I do, it just seems like small potatoes to all the challenges and obstacles that they had to face. So, I think that's what really inspired me and motivated me to always keep trying, because I saw that spirit in my parents.

[00:37:34] And I truly believe, if you put in the hard work, keep trying, it's going to pay off for you.

John: [00:37:42] Jenny, the great thing about this podcast is that I get to show examples of Sticky Lawyers, people who are lawyers who just stand out for so many different reasons. And you would have simply earned that title because of your in-house career as a fashion lawyer and, of course, your personality. But you, hands down, get some added stickiness points, some extra credit for the other things that you've done with Good, Bad, and Fab, and of course, “The Amazing Race.” It's just unbelievable. This has been so much fun for me, and I'm sure the Sticky Lawyer community has enjoyed this as well.

[00:38:19] If people want to learn more about you, where should they go?

Jenny: [00:38:22] They can find me on Instagram at @goodbadandfab. They can find me on my blog, goodbadandfab.com

John: [00:38:31] Fabulous. Fabulous. See, I said it -- fabulous. Jenny, thank you for sharing your stories and your many accomplishments with us. It has been my absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much. 

Jenny: [00:38:43] Thank you so much. This has been fun for me as well. 

John: [00:38:47] And thank you for listening. To hear this episode again, or download other Sticky Lawyers episodes, visit stickylawyers.com. There you'll be able to view episode transcripts, behind-the-scenes notes, and recommend a standout lawyer who might be a future guest.

[00:39:04] And please don't forget to subscribe to this podcast. Everyone at Rain BDM who works so hard to produce this podcast would greatly appreciate it. Until next time, I'm John Reed and you've been listening to Sticky Lawyers.

What fashion lawyers do
Finding Jeff Lubell and True Religion Jeans
Joining True Religion's legal department as a 2nd year law student
Jenny's role in stopping counterfeiters
Post-law school role at todikodi
Feeling fear fuels your drive to constantly learn and outperform yourself
Starting a fashion blog and attending Milan Fashion Week
Monetizing fashion blogs as an early influencer
Going in-house at Instaco
Directly affecting change in a positive way
"We should go on 'The Amazing Race'"
Not taking "no" for an answer
Pre-Amazing Race preparations
Jenny's Amazing Race around the world
The origin of Jenny's wile ride: her parents