A born and bred New Yorker, Allyson Shapiro, 28, has two major passions: art and giving back to the community. In her current role, as Creative Director for the on-the-rise fashion brand Jill & Ally, those two life-long loves have been paired in the best possible way.
Shapiro holds a Master’s degree in Contemporary Art from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London and is heavily involved with the Parrish Art Museum, The Whitney Museum and The Cultivist. Prior to co-founding Jill & Ally with her mother Jill Zarin, Shapiro was employed by Paddle8, the online auction house.
As the catalyst behind Masks by Jill & Ally’s signature tie-dye look, Shapiro is mining every ounce of business skills she developed in her BC (before COVID) work life. “I’m really using all of my past work experience in marketing and advertising,” she says. “I oversee the newsletter, website and Instagram, manage all the influencer relationships and any PR matters the outside PR team isn’t handling. I’m making sure everyone is seeing what Shop Jill & Ally is doing.”
While Shapiro never envisioned starting a brand with her mother, Jill & Ally proved to be the perfect “sequel” to the duo’s first Covid 19-related venture: Noshes for Nurses, a Go Fund Me account created to raise money to feed the essential workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. Working her connections, Shapiro was able to solicit donations from several food and beverage brands, and since its March 2020 debut, Noshes for Nurses has raised more than $70,00 and has donated 200,000+ meals to hospitals, police stations and fire departments.
“Giving back, and philanthropy, has always been a huge part of our lives,” Shapiro notes. “Prior to Noshes for Nurses, we raised money for thyroid cancer through the Bobby Zarin Memorial Fund, which was created in honor of my Step-Dad Bobby Zarin.”
A few months after Noshes was up and running, Shapiro learned the craft of tie-dye. And after practicing her newfound skill on a handful of plain white masks, she posted a few “Hey, look what I did” pics to her personal Instagram and was promptly flooded with hundreds of DM requests for the gorgeous, playful cotton face coverings. Seizing the moment, Jill & Ally, was founded on a business ethos of “buy one / give one,” rocketed into existence. Since May 2020, more than 25,000 masks by Jill & Ally have been donated to healthcare and essential workers.
As the daughter of one of the original cast members of Bravo Television’s Real Housewives of New York, Shapiro was determined to avoid the reality TV circuit and make her own way. “I always wanted to be in the art world, and have a solid 9 to 5 job,” says Shapiro. But now that she’s experiencing the booming success of Jill & Ally, Shapiro admits that her family fame is a blessing. “I’m leveraging my platform in a really productive way now,” she says. “We have a real story and a real brand that people can connect with and I am so grateful for our fans and supporters new & old.”