It’s New York Fashion Week and while the designers and models are preparing for showtime, Irina M. Goldstein is gracing the red carpets with her own designs. Her statement modular fur vest surely made photographers stop and take a snapshot, but she still remained humble. Most people are unaware that models and designers aren’t the only ones gearing up to share something new during fashion week. With a solid following on social media, Goldstein is making serious girl boss moves as she gears up to run for the 2019 City Council at-Large seat in her very own hometown, Philadelphia. She is also making a name for herself in the fashion industry as the CEO of her patent pending fur pieces, Mod+Furs. It is with great pleasure that I welcome Irina M. Goldstein to Sostylash.
Ashley Rushford: Where are you from?
Irina Goldstein: I was born in the former Soviet Union, more specifically a small village called Belaya Tserkov (White Church, direct translation) Ukraine. My family and I left the country in the late 80’s due to political and religious reasons. I lived in refugee camps in Austria and Italy at the ripe age of 4 before settling in Philadelphia in 1989.
Ashley Rushford: Do you live in Philly now?
Irina Goldstein: I spent the past few years between China and Philadelphia with a few random trips to other parts of Southeast Asia. I’ve traveled the world before it was even cool to do so for Instagram, but with great pride I call Philadelphia my home.
Ashley Rushford: What made you decide to run for Philadelphia’s City Council-At Large?
Irina Goldstein: I have been to some world-class cities and always get disappointed to come home to Philadelphia and realize that we are the 2nd highest paying tax city in the country, yet we have nothing to show for it. There is a vast corruption in politics and in the city and people are more concerned with the status quo and holding their seats in office instead of asking the tough questions and holding people accountable for what they claim to be oversight. For years I have waited for someone to come into office and into the Philadelphia political scene to do the right thing and represent small business owners like myself. I kept waiting for people to get involved that were business savvy and who loved the city and its people as much as I do until I realized I might have to spend my entire life waiting, so I took it upon myself to be that hero for Philadelphia I have spent years waiting for.
Ashley Rushford: Did you always have an interest in taking on this role?
Irina Goldstein: As a child, I wanted to be a judge because I’m always fair and honest even when it hurts me, and I felt the courts needed me, but then I realized law school wasn’t for me and plus I was too creative and artistically inclined to hack the tedious studying. I ended up going with my other love Advertising and Art Direction as a child, growing up my real longing was to become an AD exec or an art director on Madison Ave working for one of the top advertising agencies. Luckily for me, life had other plans for me and after more or less of a decade in big pharma and healthcare, I found my way to business school and the courage to branch out as an entrepreneur full-time.
Ashley Rushford: If elected, what are your plans as the City Council for Philadelphia?
Irina Goldstein: As a small business owner, the issues most important to me and the business owners I work with through my financial practice are Philadelphia’s burdensome taxes, which I believe are driving small businesses away from the city.
Secondly, education is critical for our city. We must prioritize and increase the number of vocational schools to meet the needs of the industry in the coming decades. We need students who are ready, willing and able to meet the needs of the workforce coming out of high school without being saddled with massive amounts of student loan debt.
Thirdly, the quality of life is extremely important to me. We need to beautify this city, particularly the neighborhoods. This starts with simple things like more funding for street cleanings and parks. But, it also includes emphasizing funding for community gardens and empowering non-profit organizations to be an even greater source of positive change for neighborhoods.
Ashley Rushford: When did you launch Mod+Furs? /Why?
Irina Goldstein: Mod+Furs had a soft launch last September, but I’ve spent a greater part of the past two years between Beijing and Shanghai developing the concept and developing relationships with my manufacturing partners. I’m not ready to do a full launch as we are in the process of securing a patent and currently have a patent pending and trademark secure.
Ashley Rushford: Did you always have an interest in fashion/designing?
Irina Goldstein: I love fashion, I love art, and any sort of design or artistic outlet, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be the proud owner of a patent-pending fur coat company. I am always shocked by the path I am on. There was very little in my past that would have predicted any of this, but I never question or back down from a challenge, when it comes to solving textile waste issues or finding a way to make fur more “friendly.” It was a challenge like no other, but one I embraced and loved laboring over in the beginning stages when everyone looked at me like a crazy person.
Ashley Rushford: What are your hopes for Mod+Furs/where would you like to see your brand in the next 5 years?
Irina Goldstein: Currently, I’m looking to move my manufacturing operations to several other countries (perhaps Greece, India or Turkey) since the current situation with our country and China is causing a real financial burden on small start-ups like mine. There’s roughly a 20% increase on all of our imported goods.
So, in the next five years, I hope to have a solid manufacturing pipeline or factory. I would also like to license out my patent to other brands who use a great deal of fur for the sake of sustainability.
Ashley Rushford: Since you attended the Bonnie Bouche by Angela Simmons fashion show would you like to show your designs at fashion week?
Irina Goldstein: I’m more of a direct to consumer, practical kind of girl—I like to keep my products accessible to the masses. If anything, I would do a pop-up type of showing and invite only select few. I like the element of surprise and exclusivity and I think we as an industry need to start thinking more outside the box and how to conserve resources of all type. I’m also contemplating on doing a fashion show in our showroom when we do a full launch that will only be seen on Instagram or on our Facebook page.