Jude Connally to give Broadway business a test drive; Opening July 4
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Jude Zimmerman, founder and designer of Jude Connally clothing, noticed the vacant retail space on the corner of Broadway and Caroline Street on Thursday and leapt at the opening.
Three days later, Zimmerman signed a three-month lease for the 15,000 square foot storefront at 438 Broadway with landlord and building owner Mark Straus in what she calls Saratoga’s fastest business deal of all time.
“It’s our first retail store so it’s a test,” Zimmerman said of the Jude Connally shop, which will open next week. “It’s what we’re calling a pop-up shop where we come into a vacant space and stay there through the season and hopefully, if we do well in Saratoga, we may end up staying there permanently.”
Zimmerman, who grew up in Troy, spent her summers at the track in Saratoga and couldn’t be more excited about opening a store on Broadway.
“What I love about Saratoga is that it’s old — it’s very timeless — but it’s also modern and trendy,” Zimmerman said. “That’s how I describe my clothing — we use classic shapes, but with modern colors and prints and I think that’s the kind of woman I see in Saratoga.”
After working for years in the corporate world as VP of sales and marketing for Liz Claiborne, Zimmerman said her path changed after 9/11 when she decided to open a retail store in Cranford, New Jersey so she could spend more time with her family.
“I ran the store for four years and realized I wanted something bigger,” Zimmerman said.
One day, while she was out for a run, Zimmerman had an epiphany.
“I saw all these beautiful women running and noticed they stay in their running clothes because they’re comfortable,” Zimmerman said. “I realized I could make comfortable clothing that makes women feel good, but also is fashionable and makes them look good too — and that’s how Jude Connally was born.”
Zimmerman decided on calling her new business Jude Connally, her maiden name, as a tribute to her family and because she said it felt like a very American name, which is important as all Jude Connally garments are made here in New York City. The brand launched in March 2010 and within a year, Jude Connally garments were being sold in retail locations in over 25 states.
“We do dresses and tunic tops,” Zimmerman said of the line. “It’s really about comfort, ease and casual. The garments are no iron, no fuss, knit dresses that you can throw in your bag and don’t wrinkle.”
The simplicity and wearability of Jude Connally pieces attract a wide customer base ranging from college-aged students to mothers Zimmerman said.
“We are all about making women feel good about themselves no matter what and that attracts women of all ages — I’d say between ages 18 all the way through their 50s,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman’s niece will head up the new Saratoga location, but Zimmerman mentioned they would be looking to introduce local staff in the near future. Although Zimmerman herself will stay home in New Jersey with her husband Jack and sons Matt and Jake, she plans to be back and forth throughout the summer to oversee the pop-up store’s opening months.
“We’re so excited to work with the town in any way we can,” Zimmerman said. “The town has such an amazing reputation and businesses tend to stay there, so we’re hoping we can make it work — I would love to stay there.”
Jude Connally clothing will be open on Broadway by the week of July, 4.