Peter Jean Marie’s life is definitely “ritzier” than it was at this time one year ago.
The 23-year-old Collier County resident launched his self-designed line men’s and women’s fashions in January of 2019. By year’s end, he had inked a deal to have his private label carried in the signature stores of the Ritz-Carlton Naples and the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples. There, they join fashions from such major labels as Bugatchi, Louis Vuitton, Peter Millar and Robert Graham, among others.
Marie said his fashions will also be carried at Ritz Carlton locations on both Florida’s east and west coasts, as well as in California.
A 2015 graduate of St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples, Marie received a diploma in fashion design from Miami International University of Art and Design in 2018. The former model decided to develop his clothing brand while in college. He started out with designing blazers, before moving on to ties and bowties and women’s wear.
He was blown away by the Ritz-Carlton’s interest in adding his creations to the company’s shops.
“It felt like being a college athlete being drafted by a team in the NBA,” said Marie. “You receive a call and you’re offered to play in a much bigger league. It’s a national business and certainly to have a big company call me and ask to carry my brand meant a lot. It’s simply the next chapter to my story. It felt great. I was very honored, but not surprised, because I know exactly what I’m going after and why I’m going after it because I’m passionate about what I do.”
Marie markets his wares through his website, www.peterjeanmarie.store, and through social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram. He also had a kiosk set up at the Coastland Center Mall for that purpose. He opened the kiosk last September, after leaving a job at the Mall’s Saks 5th Avenue store, where he’d worked for five months.
As he tells it, when he informed his former boss that he was quitting to focus on his dreams of becoming a well-known designer, the man scoffed and said, “Look, Peter, you are not a designer, and nor will you ever become one. In order for you to be a designer you have to be selling your clothes in this store.”
That reaction only served to deepen his resolve.
“In life, there are always going to be people who throw rocks and you and put your dreams down, but that’s all part of the process,” explained Marie. “All it did was add fuel to the fire for me and it made me think, ‘I’ll show you. This is my story. I’m the one holding the pencil here and you’re not.’ No one’s going to tell me how my life and career are going to go.”
It turned out that four months after opening the now-closed kiosk, he was offered the deal with the Ritz-Carlton.
“You never know who’s walking around and who’s watching you,” Marie stated. “In December, while sitting at the kiosk, they called me and asked to carry my line. They’re all signature shops and the price is much higher than items at the Coastland Center Mall. So to avoid conflict of interest, I had to close things up at the Coastland Center Mall.”
Marie said his designs have been praised by such celebrities as singer Chaka Khan, former NFL players Ryan Clark and Gary Williams, mentalist-illusionist Wayne Hoffman and Cherrie Johnson, who was a cast member on the 1990s TV show “Family Matters.”
He also made it to the second round of tryouts for last season’s run of the TV show “Shark Tank.” Marie was one of 30,000 business owners, nationwide, vying for a spot on the show.
The determination to realize his dream is abundant for the budding millennial mogul.
“My drive comes from people telling I can’t do something and when it’s something that I’m very, very passionate about and people tell me that I can’t be something I aspire to be, that pretty puts more wood on the fire that I already have.”
For more information, and to view and purchase Marie’s creations, visit www.peterjeanmarie.store.