Marla Ginsburg, Founder & CEO of Marla Wynne
By content editorial director photographer
“It was hard in the beginning to talk about my story, because every time you remember the icky bits, you start to realize it can happen again,” said Marla Ginsburg. Marla, a former television producer of successful shows like “Highlander” and “La Femme Nikita,” was riding high in Hollywood until a few failed TV pilots and the 2007 Hollywood writer’s strike cratered her career. When her lifestyle and her life savings disappeared, Marla feared she and her kids would wind up living out of their car. With nothing to fall back on, Marla dug deep and got creative.
“When I realized how many people go through what I went through, I hope they can apply my story to their own journey,” said Marla.
Marla had never sewn a button on a shirt and knew nothing about the fashion industry, but that didn’t stop her from buying a sewing machine, a sketch pad and some fabric. Through trial and lots of errors, Marla Ginsburg began designing a line of clothes for real women who wanted to cover their “icky bits”—a favorite Marla term—that was comfortable, stylish and affordable.
Drawing on her time living and working in Paris, Marla thought about how the French women never had problems with their icky bits, and they were always stylish. It was almost as if there was something in their DNA that gave them the ability to pair a scarf, a cape, or a jacket, with a necklace and simple, basic pieces of clothing and voilà! They were stylish and unique! Using some of their secrets, her brand, Marla Wynne, was born. Today it’s sold on HSN in the United States; TSC in Canada; QVC in the United Kingdom and HSE24 in Italy.
“Nobody can describe this time of life to you until you get here,” said Marla. “There’s so many challenges that are unexpected. You’re living inside these 60-year-old bodies with an 18-year-old heart. Something eats away at your optimism and sense of forever which is called a ticking clock. Choices, decisions and events have more consequences because the road behind you is much longer than the road ahead of you. Everything has to count more now. Everything is more meaningful, so anything that’s meaningless needs to be eliminated.
“If we’re leading purposeful lives, we let go of what doesn’t feel good and embrace things that are most important to us. I’ve got another 20 years on this planet, if not more, but they go fast. I can still feel my first child kicking in my belly. She’s 23, so that’s how fast it goes.
“I am extremely proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I am extremely excited about the future. I’m really lucky at this age to be thinking about future growth while so many people my age are looking the other direction: less and smaller. I’m having a blast growing this business!
“I’m able to say you can do this. You can change your life. You can have a future. It’s just a shorter journey than you’ve been on before, so use it. Don’t let it use you. Keep embracing it. Keep putting one foot forward.”
There’s nothing I can do about 10 minutes ago. Ten minutes from now I can influence. – Marla Ginsburg
Happy is a momentary thing. I am more interested in contentment. I have incredible moments of happiness, or highs, but I also have lows. The success I’m having is great, but the toll it takes to travel as much as I do and work as hard as I do and run a fairly large business by myself is exhausting.
ROLE MODELS FOR THIS AGE
I’m an example of aging well, of moving forward, of learning how to let go and passing through some very challenging times with—I think—a fairly high level of dignity. I’m also an example of someone who gets lonely, who cries, who will sit by a window with a cognac and a cigarette and feel sorry for myself from time to time.
My life isn’t perfect, and I clean my own toilets. My days aren’t all happy or all bad. Keeping up the patina of perfection is harder than fighting gravity. What I find reassuring about women sharing, like this, is to realize these passages are normal, and my feelings are normal.
I’m able to say, “You can do this. You don’t have to accept anything but death and taxes. You can change your life. You can have your life be different. You can have a future. This isn’t an ending. It’s just a shorter journey than you’ve been on before, so use it. Don’t let it use you. Keep embracing it. Keep putting one foot forward.”
MOST IMPORTANT SURVIVAL SKILL
The ability to get up every morning and move forward and try again.
If the path you’re on is not working, that should be your ah-ha moment. It’s really important to be willing to change course. You can put an address in Google Maps, and it will tell you how to get there. What Google Maps didn’t know is there’s an accident there. There’s a parade there. There’s a million different ways to get where you want to go.
WHAT EMPOWERS YOU
I’m determined, and I don’t want to be stuck. I want to go forward. I don’t want to slide backwards in life as I see a lot of people do that have gotten older. I’m not interested in the past. There’s nothing I can do about ten minutes ago. Ten minutes from now I can influence.
WHAT SCARES YOU
There’s a lot of things that scare me. I have the wisdom to know there’s not much I can do about them, so being overly-obsessive is probably not productive. However, somewhere, I probably like living on the edge so fear motivates me.
RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES
I think one of the big problems in my life is I don’t recharge enough. That concerns me. I definitely need to do some work on that.
Streaming Netflix videos.
EARLIEST MEMORY OF FASHION OR MAKEUP
When I was a little girl and I would get new clothes, I would get so excited I would break out in hives.
THOUGHTS ABOUT FASHION
For someone who creates fashion, I have a very peculiar attitude about it. I don’t believe in trends. I believe in simplicity, comfort and and a kind of elegance. I think there is no luxury without comfort. I won’t wear heels. I won’t wear shape wear. If it’s not comfy, I don’t want it, but that doesn’t mean I have to look like a slob. I’d go anywhere dressed the way I am right now (white shirt and black leggings), because it covers my icky bits.
I find fashion and the notion of what’s in and what you should wear so silly. Just because it fits, doesn’t mean you should wear it. I’m interested in your personal style. I design things that are a canvas for a piece of jewelry given to us by someone we value, or a scarf or a jacket we love.
If there’s anything that typifies what I believe about fashion, it’s high-low. I love a pair of $45 white Keds with a pair of $600 pants. To me, if you’re going to wear a tuxedo pant, you want to wear a Fruit of the Loom t-shirt.
“Nobody can describe this time of life to you until you get here…”
I know! Isn’t she wonderful?
Great profile…very inspiring. Another timeless/ageless collection I love is Lola & Sophie by designer Gene Kagan – http://www.lolaandsophie.com/
Thanks for the Lola & Sophie link. I didn’t know about their line.
I love Marla. I met and spoke with her by phone a few years back and found her to be so inspiring. Great profile….I am glad she is still doing well and designing!
Marla’s an amazingly strong, smart woman! I love her determination to keep moving forward.
Great profile and interview. I so agree with her views on fashion and comfort.
Look for Marsha’s IV labels on this week’s “Friday’s Picks!”
Great inspiration for the second (third?) chapter? Oh, the things we could do if we weren’t afraid. Marla’s got it down!
If we really listen to what Marla’s telling us, we’ll step outside of our comfort zone and just do it. Why not?
How impressive. Marla’s story is almost enough to make me want to get my sewing machine out—-but, nah. I’ll have to find somewhere else to look for my encore career. I got my only “C” in junior high school in home economics. Sewing was my nemesis.
Marla didn’t know anything about designing and sewing. Something tells me you’re not going to have any trouble with an encore career.
What a story! Marla has become my favorite designer. The fact that you can look polished, put together with little effort and be comfortable at the same time is a powerful thing for a woman who still loves clothes and wants to look nice. Thank you Marla.
Isn’t she wonderful? I agree! I just love Marla. Thanks for reading and letting me know you like it, Bonnie. xoxox, Brenda
I love her fashion flair and attitude!
I know! Isn’t she wonderful. After spending the afternoon with her, I felt like I could set the world on fire!
I love this woman! Fabulous interview Brenda. I totally agree with Marla about trends! She’s inspiring! I also agree with her attitude about luxury! Popping over to see her designs. Thanks
Luxury is comfort. Why do so many of us fight the notion of comfort until we reach a certain age? I hope your pain is manageable. You must be thinking about next steps…
Marla really thinks like so many of us. I got excited when I read that she directed la femme Nikita – such a great show. Her sensibilities reflect intelligence, elegance and common sense. Thanks so much for interviewing her.
She’s the real deal. No high heels; no Spanx. Luxury is comfort! Just love her!
Inspiring story thanks.
Thanks for stopping by to read Marla’s story. I loved meeting her!
Cool woman! It’s great when someone has the wherewithal to turn a negative into a positive. She’s inspiring…and I love her glasses. The accessories from Marla’s line are great!
I love everything about this woman! She’s so inspirational and to have done so well in an industry she knew nothing about – I loved the line about how she went out and bought a sewing machine, sketch pad and some fabric! Then there’s her honesty and the message that we all have the ability to change our lives. I could go on and on. Thank you for introducing us to yet another incredible woman. Essie xx
such a wonderful post. I lam so sorry to have leaned of her situation but then I read on and I love that there was a rainbow after the storm. Thank you for introducing us to Marla and for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. Watch for your feature on Monday xo
I love stories about strong, smart women who are often called upon to turn their lives around. So happy you liked Marla’s story as well.
In my late sixties I recognize your thoughts and feelings, Marla. Yes, keep moving forward and make the most of each new day.
Hi Sue! So great to see you here! Yes, keep moving forward. What choice do we have? xoxox, Brenda