How Kristin Juszczyk Found Viral Success Designing Taylor Swift’s Chiefs Puffer Jacket

A few weeks ago Kristin Juszczyk was just your average girl with a dream. Then she crossed paths with Taylor Swift.

Juszczyk, the 29-year-old wife of San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, had spent the past several years of her husband’s career creating custom outfits for women like herself, who wanted to look fashionable while supporting their favorite team. Juszczyk taught herself how to sew; made hundreds of pieces, from skirts to jumpsuits; and soon realized that her passion project could be a real business. But after years of hard work, she still hadn’t had her big break.

“I was trying to collaborate with brands and no one was really interested in me,” she tells Glamour.

Then she took a big leap of faith and sent two of her pieces—custom Kansas City Chiefs puffer jackets—to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’s wife, Brittany, and her new friend, Swift. Both women wore the jackets to the chilly January 13 game, and Juszczyk’s world changed forever.

Just a few weeks later Juszczyk has secured a licensing agreement with the NFL to officially use their logos on her designs. She now has nearly 1 million followers on Instagram, and a charity auction scheduled for Super Bowl weekend that features her first official product—a sleek puffer vest—is up to nearly $30,000 at the time of this writing.

If it all sounds incredible and overwhelming, well, Juszczyk can’t quite believe it either.

“It’s just like this Cinderella story,” she says. “I mean, it just feels so magical. And I recognize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m just so beyond grateful.”

Ahead of the big game, in which, ironically, her husband’s 49ers will play against Swift’s boyfriend’s Chiefs, Juszczyk chatted with Glamour about the years of hard work behind her “overnight” success, her plans for her brand, and what she’s wearing to the big game.

<cite class="credit">Kristin Juszczyk</cite>
Kristin Juszczyk
<cite class="credit">Kristin Juszczyk</cite>
Kristin Juszczyk

Glamour: How did this passion project start? Did you have any background in sewing or fashion before you started making your clothing?

Kristin Juszczyk: I didn’t have much of a background. I grew up knitting and crocheting with my grandma. That was just something we always did together. I have this memory of me and my mom making throw pillows together, but this was a one-, two-time thing; it wasn't something we did on the daily by any means. But that was really just my introduction to a sewing machine. I’m completely self-taught. About, I would say maybe seven, eight years ago, I just started YouTubing. I was always interested in it, and I really dove into my passion, and I just learned everything on YouTube.

How did you start making clothes for women sports fans like yourself?

I really started taking it seriously 10 years ago. My husband’s been in the league for 11 years now. We’re just so fortunate that he’s had such a long career. I kind of just got sick of wearing the same old T-shirt and jersey to every game. So I started re-creating, taking old T-shirts and jerseys, and recreating them and flipping them into new silhouettes. And then I just realized, “Wow, there’s such a market for this. Why aren’t we taking silhouettes that women love to wear and re-creating it in sports merch? Because it’s really not available out there.” I was always looking for that silhouette, and I could never find it. So I just felt, “Okay, it’s time to start creating.”

What were these silhouettes that you felt were missing in the market?

Just something that you can feel confident in. I make something different for every game, so there’s not a specific silhouette. I keep trying to push my skill set and make something new. But originally, I started making just more fashion-forward pieces, like corsets or trousers or blazers, jackets, that just weren’t available for women.

So, the puffer jacket that broke the internet. How did you come up with it?

I had this light bulb moment when I was at a game. It was a colder game, and I’m seeing everybody walk around with jerseys on, but they have these huge jackets over them because it was cold. Or even they would be putting these jerseys over these huge jackets.

And I’m thinking to myself, “During these cold games, everybody still wants to represent their favorite player, and there’s got to be a better way than to just be putting a jersey over a huge jacket, and then you’re just overly puffed.” You know? And that’s kind of when I got the idea, like, “Why have we never made a jersey jacket? Why has that never been a thing?”

How did you go about designing it?

It’s a lot of trial and error, I have to say. It’s a lot of YouTube. One of my favorite ways of learning is, I’ll take one of my favorite garments that fits me exactly the way I love, and I’ll deconstruct it. So I’ll take it apart piece by piece, and then I’ll put it back together. And that’s a great way for me to learn how to create the garment and learn, “Okay, this piece goes here if you just completely take it apart and put it back together.” That’s one of the ways I learned how to create them.

You said you make something for every game. How many do you think you have made? Which designs are your favorites?

That’s a great question. I should go back and count how many outfits I’ve made. It’s been a lot. I wish I had a number, but I really can’t think of it. But I’ve been doing this for a few years and I’d make something for every single game. What’s so funny is, everyone asks me this question, and the outfit that I’m making that week is always my favorite because I put so much time and energy into it, it becomes my new favorite piece. But I like changing it up. And I’ve made skirts, I’ve made tops, I’ve made pants, I’ve made jumpsuits, I’ve made blazers. So I don’t have one in particular that is my absolute favorite. It’s that week and the time and energy that I’m putting into that piece, it becomes my new favorite.

When did you go from, “Oh, this is just something fun I’m doing for myself” to “Maybe I could actually have a business”?

I’d been at this for a few years, making stuff for myself, but I would say maybe four years ago is when I really started taking this seriously and being like, “You know what? I’m going to keep pushing and pushing to try to get this out there.”

It’s definitely not been an easy journey. One of my good friends said something to me and it really stuck with me. They said, “If it takes 100 nos to get your first yes, wouldn’t you be so excited to get that first no?” And that’s something that really stuck with me to my core. So at the time I heard that no, I just was like, “All right, I’m one step closer to my yes.”

What were some of the nos you got before your big break?

In my mind, the easiest way through, or not the easiest, the best way for me to get introduced in this space would be to collaborate with people, and nobody was really interested. So it was years of just knocking at everyone's door trying to find somebody who would take a risk on me, because I knew I had a great idea and I knew I had a passion, and I would push myself as hard as anybody possibly could to get this out there. So it’s just so rewarding to now be able to do this on my own.

Let’s talk about that big break. How did you get the jacket into Taylor’s hands? I know you’ve dressed other wives and girlfriends as well, like Simone Biles.

The NFL world is such a family, especially with the females. We all support each other. We all know what these guys go through on a day-to-day, and we all know how important it is. So we all support each other. And Brittany [Mahomes] has been so incredible to wear my designs throughout the years, and she was interested in having me make her a jacket. So I just reached out and I shot my shot and I said, “Hey, I would absolutely love to get one to Taylor, if there’s any way you could pass it along. Absolutely no pressure, I don’t expect her to wear it, I just would be honored to gift it.” And that was really it, and I just started making it.

Then the day before it got shipped out, she texted me to confirm that, and she asked me for a video of the jacket, and I was so excited. I said, “Wait, is there a possibility of you guys both wearing it?” And she said, “Yeah…we’re both wearing the jacket.” And I just lost my mind, I was so excited. I spent hours and days making this jacket, but I never thought in my wildest dreams that she would actually wear it.

How did you feel at that moment?

It brought tears to my eyes. I mean, I think people don’t realize that I’ve been doing this for years now. I want people to know that this wasn’t “I just picked up a needle and thread yesterday and was so fortunate to be able to land Taylor and Simone.” I’ve been really grinding for a few years. So it just was that full-circle moment to be like, again, “Wow. All those nos, I finally got my yes.”

I thought it was funny that one of the frequent headlines I saw after Taylor wore your jacket was about your husband and how he was so vocally supportive of you online. Obviously that’s adorable, but I also was thinking to myself, Come on, guys, of course he’s supporting her! They are married!

It’s so funny you say that because that’s exactly what we were saying. Me and Kyle were cracking up that everyone was losing their mind over how supportive Kyle is. I’m like, all he’s saying is that I’m making these jackets. Of course he wants people to know that his wife made it! But I always say, his support, that’s not even 5% of what makes Kyle such an amazing partner. He’s just the absolute best. And I mean, I just think he’s so happy. He sees all the hard work that I put into it. So to just make sure everybody knows who made it, he’ll work overtime to make sure everybody knows that I made it.

It’s almost kismet that after Brittany and Taylor led to your big break, now all you guys are going to be at the Super Bowl on Sunday.

It really is. It just feels like something divine, it’s just the stars aligning. And I actually turn 30 the day of the Super Bowl too.

Happy birthday! Speaking of Sunday, can you give us a hint for your Super Bowl ’fit?

I can tell you that it’s very sentimental and that it’s almost like a little story in a jacket.

I heard that Taylor isn’t wearing one of your designs, correct?

No, not to this game. I’m only one person, so I can only make so much, and I felt like it was time that I made my husband something from all his support. So this game is going to be Kyle’s time.

You just signed a licensing agreement with the NFL. What does that mean for the future of your brand?

It’s such an honor. It’s not easy to get, by any means, so I’m very grateful. It’s one step closer for me to be able to actually dress all the fans. My goal always is to be able to walk into the stadium and see people in my designs. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. So, I really do feel like there’s a possibility, and fingers crossed that I’ll be able to make these puffer jackets, because I know that’s something that everyone’s so interested in. And not just the puffers. I mean, that’s just the beginning. I have loads and loads of ideas, but just to see everyone wearing my jersey puffers, which is all I've ever wanted. But that's my goal, for sure. But the licensing just makes me one step closer to that.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Stephanie McNeal is a senior editor at Glamour and the author of Swipe Up for More! Inside the Unfiltered Lives of Influencers.

Originally Appeared on Glamour