Alum Entrepreneur Empowers Authentic Expression

Jamie and Souphak Kienitz ’16 are the founders of Jay Victoria – an inclusive brand offering fashion for plus women, nonbinary and queer humans. Their mission is to make everyone feel seen, heard and confident in their clothing. Focusing on plus-size menswear style, Jay Victoria fills a void in the fashion industry, empowering authentic expression without sacrificing style.

When Jamie suffered the consecutive losses of people close to her, she gained weight as she struggled to cope with her grief. At a time when she needed to connect with others most, she felt more isolated and insecure as she tried – and failed – to find clothing that made her feel comfortable in her body.

Understanding the struggle of finding clothing that fits and makes you feel confident, she and her wife Souphak made the leap to launch a company that celebrates and empowers those who have been overlooked for too long. “(Jay Victoria) is a brand where you never have to settle for anything less than feeling like your true, authentic self,” said Souphak, who graduated from the University of St. Thomas with an undergraduate degree in business.

Schulze School grant and mentoring support

In 2022, Jay Victoria was chosen by the renowned venture capital firm and start-up accelerator, gener8tor, for its St. Thomas summer cohort. Selected from the St. Thomas alumni network, Jay Victoria joined a select group of Tommie-founded start-ups, receiving tailored coaching, and access to gener8tor's national network of mentors, customers, corporate partners, and investors for an intensive two-month program.

With the help of a $10,000 grant from the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship, Jay Victoria successfully launched its first production run, marking a significant milestone for the entrepreneurs. The company embraces sustainability by upcycling fabrics from other brands, effectively reducing the use of chemicals, waste and water in production.

Souphak (second from left), an alumna of St. Thomas, recently shared her story alongside Jamie (center) during the 2022 Women in Entrepreneurship Week panel held for the St. Thomas community. Reflecting on her experience, she expressed gratitude for the lessons and the importance of a mission-driven approach that she learned at her alma mater. “St. Thomas taught me a lot about social entrepreneurship and having a mission behind a business.”