Stephanie Sheperd was in the audience cheering on her former boss Kim Kardashian West as she accepted the inaugural influencer award at the CFDAs last week. But Kim’s ex-assistant (she was the mogul’s right-hand girl for five years and often seen on Keeping Up with the Kardashians before amicably moving on to her own career path) has some serious influencing skills of her own.
And one of her exciting new projects is with J Brand. Sheperd collaborated with the iconic denim brand to launch a reinvigorated “Little Black Jean.” She designed her own limited-edition pair of high-waited skinny jeans and added a few signature design details, including an even higher high rise, a snugger fit through the leg and lace-up front all constructed with “Photo Ready” denim. And photo-ready they are. Sheperd stars in her own campaign images, modeling the jeans topless as well as with casual shirts. (Kim definitely taught her well!)
The jeans are in fact so skinny, that the brand put a warning on their website: “Please note that this is an ultra-skinny jean that is tighter than most of our skinny fits. Take your usual size, but be aware that getting into the jean may require some added acrobatics.”
But for anyone brave enough to go full-on acrobat and try the $278 jeans, there’s bad news — they sold out within 19 hours of launch and there is now a waitlist. The brand produced only 100 units of the exclusive design (and even individually numbered each piece), but a restock is coming. Be sure to set an alert!
During the design process Shepherd was so hands-on, the brand actually created a funny parody video of Shepherd taking over their office. In the video, above, she jokes around with the staff as she takes over every aspect of the process, from management to design. And judging from their reactions, she got up in everyone’s business.
But in reality, she got along well with the brand she’s admired for years. “I wanted to partner with J Brand because I have been a fan of the brand for years and I know they create quality products, so when they approached me about a possible collab, I jumped at the opportunity,” Shepherd tells PEOPLE.
When we caught up with the newly minted designer, we asked all those burning questions you’ve always wanted to ask the star who hangs with the Kardashian, including the one KarJenner closet she wants to raid.
PEOPLE: How man pairs of jeans do you own?
Steph Shepherd: Maybe 40.
P: Tell us about your first pair of J Brand jeans?
SS: I remember saving up to buy my first pair of J BRAND jeans, it was during the low-rise trend and they were a super low rise stretchy dark blue denim and I wore them to everything.
P: Who is your style icon?
SS: Christine Centenera.
P: What’s the oldest thing in your closet?
SS: A vintage denim jacket my Grandma owned.
P: Which Kardashian closet would you raid over and over again if you had the chance?
P: You were on hand to support Kim at the CFDA awards — what have you learned from her and her influence? How have you used that as you build your own career?
SS: The career and life lessons I have learned from Kim are invaluable. It really can’t even be summed up in a few sentences. I feel so fortunate for all that she has taught me over the years.