From lighting up the runway to saving animals in the Central Park Zoo, Meggie Kempner does it all. The New York born and raised granddaughter of a style icon and world-renowned legend – Nan Kempner – the young designer has built a fashion empire from the ground up, and become a social role model that her grandmother Nan would’ve been proud of. “My grandmother was definitely the reason I first got into fashion. Growing up around her was a world of inspiration; seeing her glam up for events or watching her simply get excited by fashion and tell stories about meeting designers and going to runway shows, that was something I found so exciting. I always wanted to hear more,” she tells Haute Living. A lover of classic sportswear and traditional menswear – inspired by her years at Ralph Lauren – Meggie designs for the elegant modern woman with a twist of city chic. Chris Kempner, Meggie’s brother and the business guru of the company is the brains behind the madness and the one who keeps the ball rolling when times get tough.
With just two years in business, Kempner designs are already booming on luxury runways and in fashion publications. Not taking her success for granted and always willing to give back, Meggie – under thirty and already a known designer name in the fashion industry – uses her role-model status for doing charitable work. “I’ve been very lucky to have had this sudden success with my brand and I am fortunate enough to live in this city and have access to so much information and opportunities that I take any time I can to give back so I can hopefully inspire others to do what they love.”
As a motivational career speaker, Meggie visits schools to teach children about business and guide them through the process of starting their own company. “Ever since I was little, I dreamed of starting my own business and I thought ‘there are so many hurdles it can’t be possible’ but now that I’ve made it happen, I love meeting with children and talking to them about my experience. I hope that knowing my story will inspire them to follow their own dreams.”
A believer in sustainable fashion and hoping to soon incorporate it in her designs, Kempner is a true nature lover. “I work a lot with Central Park. I am on a committee that makes sure it is maintained. We volunteer and give tours of the park,” she says. “I am also a member of the Greensward Circle which is a young professional committee that tries to bring awareness to the park and keep it restored by hosting charity events and tours.” Ever since she can remember, going to the park has been one of her favorite pastimes. “I feel like it’s so important for people in big cities to have a little green grass or a zoo. I’ve spent so much time there (the Central Park Zoo) too, learning about animals and admiring them. I think it’s the perfect place for kids to go explore and have fun,” she says with a smile. Kempner is committed to making sure these two landmarks are maintained and kept as beautiful as they are because “very often these little gems in the city get forgotten and I want to make sure that they’re not. I want to be certain that kids in the future will have as many opportunities as I did growing up.”
With an entrepreneurial spirit and compassionate heart, Meggie recently became an active member of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Every year we try to raise money for the WCS and every spring we host an event, bringing people to the park and raising money for the zoo,” she says. This money is then used to keep the animals healthy and the zoo in good shape.
Kempner actively finds charitable ways to contribute to the Big Apple. “This city has given so much to me over the years and I believe there is still so much greatness in it. This is why I try to give back in every way that I can.” Inspired by her grandmother who was also a devoted philanthropist, Meggie is looking forward to getting involved in raising money for Memorial Sloan Kettering, a top cancer center, which Nan was a part of, “it’s at the top of my to-do list for this year.”
With the unconditional help of her brother Chris, Meggie will be launching her e-commerce site this year, “it’s something that I’ve been working on relentlessly for the past year, and I’m so excited to be able to share it,” she says. A thrilling announcement for Kempner fans, this site will allow them to shop head-to-toe Kempner. Occasionally taking time out of her busy schedule, Meggie likes to be a tourist in her own city, making sure to keep herself inspired and constantly learning new things. In addition to keeping her mind fresh, helping keep NYC parks restored and maintaining her fashion brand, Meggie takes time every week to volunteer in various organizations and make appearances in NYC schools. She says, “I think that anyone can make a difference.”