Former BCBGeneration Creative Director Joyce Azria Credits Jewish Faith for Business ‘Edge’
For the designer Joyce Azria — the daughter of a fashion mogul, and a later-in-life adoptee of an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle — faith has been key to her own trajectory as a successful entrepreneur.
“In business, the competitive edge I have by learning Torah, by understanding how I want to treat people, is more about the flow and the impact I leave behind on people,” she told The Algemeiner in an interview about her journey. “My Yiddishkeit has taught me that the work is the success, and whatever the outcome is, is up to Hashem.”
At the age of 16, Azria, started working for the fashion house BCBGMAXAZRIA founded by her father, Max Azria. By 26, she was the creative director of BCBGeneration.
But when she became pregnant with her first child, 15 years ago, Joyce struggled with balancing a fashion empire and becoming a first-time mother. She faced anxiety and depression, and tried medication, meditation and therapy, to no avail. Being raised in a conservative Jewish family, she turned to her Jewish faith — speaking with a rabbi, learning more about Judaism, and eventually choosing to become more observant.
“I was seeing that with all the tools and all the money I could throw at every problem, many of them were unsolvable without Hashem’s help,” she told The Algemeiner.
“I began to bring godliness into every situation and see that as an adult, I was faring better and able to be on my feet, battle bigger issues, put more on my shoulders and love responsibility,” she said. “It was for me like a competitive edge that I had faith … It created a sense of optimism, hope and love.”
Now 40, Joyce is currently the president of Swiss1876, which sells CBD wellness products, and is releasing a children’s book in December about connecting to God from a non-denominational standpoint. She previously served as the head of the fashion companies Joyann, Avec Les Filles and ROHB by Joyce Azria, and lives in Florida with her husband and their seven children.
“The blessing in business comes from Hashem,” she explained. “I’m [now] more interested in the input rather than the output. I’ve learned more and more that even if you make a billion dollars but you didn’t really affect people, then the job was for me a little less important.”
Joyce’s father, who died in 2019, was born into a Sephardic Jewish family in Tunisia. Although he did not lead an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle, he was a traditionalist and always hosted large Shabbat dinners. Joyce has previously said that her father would even change the dates of his Fashion Week runway shows so that they would not conflict with Rosh Hashanah, and that if he traveled, he always made sure to be home for Shabbat.
Joyce also spoke to The Algemeiner about her family’s reaction to her becoming more religious, especially that of her father’s.
“There were struggles with everyday things that were really hurtful to him, like me not eating in his home [and] not being able to connect with me seven days a week,” she said. “Change was hard for them but one of the last things my father told me was how proud he was of my Yiddishkeit and how he feels that I did something for him, something he would have loved to do.”
She credited her upbringing with introducing her to the “concept of godliness” from a “place of love.”
“I found that it was truthful and the right choice for me,” she said. “I felt there was no stigma or no negativity around how it come to me, so it was something I could build on. It came from the right seed.”
Joyce said she currently has a number of projects in the works and will continue to draw on her Jewish values as her business expands.
“I think we have a mission to be righteous people and when that is in the forefront in business, you are known throughout the world as somebody who affects things,” she said. “I’ve existed in such huge successes in business, but the success financially or in the outside world is not the success. The success is operating with integrity and being a person of values.”