Powerhouse alum takes on fashion design in NYC


Contributed by Janeica Hance

Janeica Hance poses with her original handbag near the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC. The Brookline alum works in management and runs her own business called J. Hance where she designs clutches.

There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise. – W.E.B. DuBois

Her colorful handbag designs make a statement, and her values ring confidently clear on her website and social media accounts. Positivity. Inclusivity. She’s here for the working woman. Janeica Hance ’11 has always been determined to rise. 

Currently, Hance works in management in New York City and also runs her own business called J. Hance where she designs and sells clutches with eye-catching patterns and prints. Her patent design is a colorful vertical stripe that runs down each bag that makes it easier to sort your items into multiple bags and identify which bag is which.

In the coming months, Hance has plans to release more designs and update her website presence. Her big dream is for the company to be successful enough for her to dedicate herself to it full time. 

Throughout high school, Hance had an interest in fashion and modeled on the side. The high school didn’t offer classes or opportunities for fashion design, but Hance didn’t let that stop her. She took Brookline Adult Education classes and put on a fashion show with her friends at the high school as well.

“It was a big thing,” Hance said. “We were practicing for months, we had a bunch of different formations, we had a ballet dancer partake in the event, we had different folks with different talents. It was an entire talent show. There was a woodworking class, they built the runway, we had a lights team, an entire group, they came through, they practiced with us, we paid them too. We just made everything happen.” 

Hance donated all the money raised to an organization at the high school. 

Slowly, Hance realized that modeling wasn’t what she wanted to do. Instead, she wanted to be the “manager” or the “boss” of the models, so she decided to go to school for fashion merchandising and learn about the business side of fashion. 

“I always wanted to have my own business and be my own boss, I just always had that mindset. Therefore, I was like, you know what, I’m going to be an entrepreneur. So I ended up starting the business,” Hance said.

Hance's designs are made for the working woman.
Contributed by Janeica Hance
Hance’s designs are made for the working woman

Hance was always motivated, but it wasn’t always easy. Guidance counselor Kara Lopez recalled the moment Hance first stepped into her room.

“I remember her coming in because she came in just owning the world. She was clearly extremely driven right out the gate and never slowed down after that,” Lopez said. “And that’s not to say life didn’t get tough for her, and she didn’t get upset about things. She gets upset about things like everybody else, but she just wouldn’t let that stop her.” 

Hance grew up in a family of 13 and juggled many familial responsibilities, including raising her younger brothers. Hance also said that a really important part of her identity is that she is an inner city girl.

“I was raised in the inner city. Society doesn’t expect folks from the inner city to thrive, so that’s also what motivates me and drives me and my team,” Hance said. 

English teacher Elon Fischer, who taught Hance in his public speaking class during her senior year, said that Hance was a student with a lot of life experience on top of her time at school. 

“She had to balance a lot,” Fischer said. “There were days when she couldn’t come to school because she had to take care of her younger siblings. There was a day she brought her youngest brother to school. She was just like, “I don’t know where else to put him, is it okay?”  He was this super cute little kid, and he came to class and everyone was having a good time with him, and she did what she needed to do.”

Image from jhance.nyc

According to Fischer, Hance was always responsible and made up work, even when school wasn’t the easiest for her.

“It was clear when she was here that she was going to be successful,” Fischer said. “She figured out what was important, she figured out how to do things. She had a lot of spunk. There was just something about her.”

During the interview, Hance’s warm spirit leapt out. Hance cares dearly about giving back to the community, explaining that she was always “giving and nurturing” as she raised her younger brothers, and emphasizing how giving purely out of love really makes a difference. 

In May 2018, Hance and her team returned to the high school to give a presentation about her start-up at the ACE career and internship exploration seminar. According to Lopez, Hance’s story and determination to succeed inspired three students to enroll at a teen fashion clinic at the Boston School of Fashion Design. 

Hance said her presentation at the high school is part of the  philanthropic work that she and her team want to do. 

“We want to educate the younger folks about the process and show them how it’s not easy,” Hance said, laughing a knowing laugh. “But with persistence and hard work it can happen. If we can have an impact and help them make better decisions in their lives, that’s enough for me.”