Fitness fashionistas


Attorneys sell high-fashion fitness and leisure clothing

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Jennifer Lossia McManus and Megan Bonanni Khoury should be arrested for stopping traffic in their fashionable fitness and leisure gear.

The two attorneys, who initially bonded over a shared passion for justice, yoga and the precarious juggling act performed by busy professional mothers, launched "Capsule Detroit" late last year, to provide Metro Detroit women with outfits that can be worn to the gym or around and even out on the town.

"We'd been talking for many years about a joint business venture and specifically a way to flex our creative muscle that would also complement, and not detract, from our already full lives," says Khoury, a partner at Pitt McGehee Palmer Rivers in Royal Oak specializing in employment discrimination and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

McManus, an attorney at Dib and Fagan in Royal Oak who also specializes in employment discrimination and FLSA work, echoed the remarks.

"We've spent considerable time and effort just selecting pieces that we feel are essential to a busy woman's lifestyle," adds McManus.

And so the idea for Capsule Detroit was hatched. The dynamic assembly of pieces includes yoga pants, tops, jackets, hoodies, vests, bras, track pants, and mesh-and-jersey tops perfect for layering.

The brands, assembled from more than 15 lines and not widely available in Michigan, include Michi, Elisabetta Rogiani, Alala, Chill by Will, Solow, Heroine Sport, Zara Terez, Vie, Vimmia, Drop of Mindfulness, and Nesh.

This season Capsule will introduce several additional lines, including breakout designers from Australia and Sweden.

"The common thread of our collection is that the gear is gorgeous, functional, and high quality," McManus says.

Cutting edge fashion wasn't the only criteria: the pair chose designers that complemented their personal and legal mores.

"We make an effort to personally connect with our designers, and have met many of them," Khoury explains. "It's important for us to know the women designing the clothes we're carrying, and we're thrilled to be able to support small businesses started by women like ourselves."

According to McManus, "Many of our designers support local charitable initiatives, and really focus on their community as part of their business plan.

"It's this fusion of business and community that we're committed to as Capsule evolves," McManus says.

Khoury describes the typical Capsule client as "Stylish and dynamic. She juggles a lot, but wouldn't have it any other way. She is unapologetically herself, a woman who works hard at what she is passionate about, works hard at the gym, and takes good care of herself and the people she loves."

Initially making their clothing lines available through "pop ups" hosted by local businesses, the fledgling entrepreneurs had such an overwhelming response that they have now taken studio space in downtown Birmingham.

"We quickly outgrew our home storage space, and our husbands were ready for us to get our inventory out of our garages and basements," Khoury explains.

When Diane Harris from My House of Style, the jewelry store that hosted Capsule's first pop-up show, considered expanding her shop into the second floor of her building, the opportunity created a perfect setting for Capsule Detroit. The studio, at 574 N. Old Woodward in Birmingham, will open in May with limited retail hours.

While Khoury and McManus plan to continue the pop-ups, they hope the studio will provide an opportunity to support smaller businesses, entrepreneurs and local charities.

"We envision a place where people can shop, but also a venue supporting ingenuity, a place for fund-raisers, dinner parties, and other pop-up shops," Khoury says.

McManus says, "We got our start through the support of other area businesses that opened their doors to us so we could host our first pop-ups, and we're looking forward to passing that generosity forward."

Capsule Detroit is not the duo's only collaboration. The two have combined the talent and resources of their respective law firms to jointly pursue wage and hour collective actions on behalf of workers whose rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act have been violated. They currently have multiple FLSA collective actions cases in suit that they have filed on behalf of home care workers, tow truck drivers, auto technicians and adult entertainers who improperly were not paid overtime, had unlawful deductions taken out of their pay, were improperly paid on a flat rate, or, in the case of the adult entertainers, were not paid an hourly wage at all.

In addition to their co-counseled docket, Khoury and McManus collaborate on each other's dockets from the sidelines. They combine Khoury's 20 years in the trenches as an employment attorney and McManus's brief experience with big firm life and eight years as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman before transitioning into employment law to brainstorm, strategize, and commiserate on the daily rigors of litigation.

The fact they both have young children and both practice the same area of law helps them work in sync.

"We were friends for over 10 years first, and we understand each other very well," McManus explains.

Weekly early morning meetings cover everything from Capsule Detroit and their strategy for their co-counseled cases to their children, spouses, and weekend plans.

"Our conversations would leave most people dizzy but we wouldn't have it any other way," Khoury says. "We love to be busy, we're passionate about our legal work, and we love the creative outlet Capsule Detroit provides."

Published: Fri, Mar 27, 2015


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