years ago Lauren Raja’s husband, Justin, died
unexpectedly while the young couple was on vacation in
months I lived in my sad, gray pajamas and sweats,"
days, Raja has traded in her melancholy jammies for
silky sleepwear splashed with polka dots and stripes,
complete with a ruffle sewn across the tush, that she
designs in her apartment. She named the collection of
women’s and young girl’s nighty-night fashion line
Justin Jean Pajamas, after her husband and grandmother,
two people she loved very much.
my way of remembering people who meant so much to
me," said Raja.
it’s starting to get some buzz.
a little over a year, Raja has sold more than 1,600
pairs of the sleepwear, via her website,
justinjeanpjs.com. Raja offers three styles of jammies
for girls ($41-49.50): a onesie (with feet), and
two-piece styles with long pants and capris. There are
four designs for women ($67-$76): long pants, capris, a
nightshirt (Raja says men are buying them for their
wives and girlfriends), and a pair of ruffled shorts.
Every design features the three-tiered ruffle. Hence the
pair of PJs comes in a clear zip-up makeup bag with a
of Raja’s fans is Real Housewives of New Jersey‘s
Teresa Giudice. She’s touted Justin Jean as one of her
and her daughter’s favorite cozy sleepy-time options.
York celebrity dermatologist Whitney Bowe wears them
while relaxing in bed, and local ABC reporter/anchor
Erin O’Hearn and her daughter have matching pairs.
Even celebrity blogger Perez Hilton’s 2-year-old
daughter, Mia, rocks the ruffle.
Justin Jean will be the featured sleepwear at the White
Dog Cafe’s 30th annual New Year’s Day Pajama Brunch,
during which she will donate 15 percent of all proceeds
from online orders to Alpha Bravo Canine. This is the
first time one pajama brand has worked so closely with
the restaurant. (Although, no pressure. If you wear your
Target specials, that’s cool, too).
local love comes just as we enter the winter season,
with its mix of modern and old-school traditions: gift-givin’,
brunchin’, Netflixin’, and, well, lounging all day,
on vacay in our PJs.
we wear pajamas, our masks are off," Raja, 36,
said. "It’s a time when you are at you realest,
you are laid back, and you are almost always surrounded
by friends and family. Pajamas help us make these
just so happened that 2017 was the year of pajamas,
according to NPD Group chief industry analyst Marshal
Cohen. We donned sleepwear for way more than getting a
little shut-eye. I don’t know about you, but the
moment I walk in the door — whether it’s 2 in the
afternoon, or 2 in the morning — I can’t get into my
PJs fast enough.
sentiment carried into street wear. This year’s
trendiest tops, whether spotted in thrift stores or in
mall specialty shops like J.Crew and Forever 21, were
fashioned to look like vintage, striped pajamas, piping
then there are the plaid, drawstring PJs rapidly became
the hallmark of the Christmas season as families posed
in baggy flannel two-pieces.
2013, a year before her husband died, Raja asked Justin
for a sewing machine. At the time, she was thinking
about the grandmother who’d raised her,
"Mama" Jean Falo, a South Philly-bred
homemaker and avid seamstress who died earlier that year
husband, vice president at a bank, bought her the
machine. But Raja, who was working as a middle school
math teacher, couldn’t find the time to sew.
following October, the couple went to Greece for a
wedding and decided to take a day trip on a catamaran.
Raja was upstairs on the boat. Justin took a dive into
the water. When Raja came downstairs, she says she saw a
friend dragging her husband out of the water and giving
him CPR. Justin never woke up.
came back home and buried her husband on her birthday.
She felt lost. She quit teaching. She spent her days in
her apartment in total darkness, mourning.
day, she saw the sewing machine in the corner and
thought to herself, "What would Mama Jean do?"
she started sketching. She’d never taken a sewing
class, but she started making "wacky" things:
a shower cap with detachable fleece lining; a leather
flower that she planned to sell on Etsy, but that cost
way too much to replicate. She made a summer dress. But
the world didn’t need any more dress designers, did
she had a thought: Justin loved polka dots, especially
on fancy socks. And when Raja thought about Mama Jean,
her mind’s eye took her to the ruffled knickers of her
childhood. How could those items work together? Pajamas,
designed a sample. The first pair were multicolored dots
in the same colors you might find on a Twister board.
Three rows of ruffles stretching across the hiney. On
the left sleeve she added a heart, because, Raja says,
"True healing comes from wearing your heart on your
sleeve." And at the center of the heart is a
tagline for her PJs: Heavenly comfort, superior style.
project really brought me back to life," said Raja.
She designs all of the prints on the fabrics, maintains
the website, fulfills orders, manages the social media,
and does the packaging.
for me aren’t about sadness anymore. They are about
joy, hope authenticity, passion, and celebration."