Jay and Gabriela


In Holyoke, Mass

Written By: Samalid Hogan | @SamalidHogan

J. Savage, Inc. was incorporated in August of 2013, by Jay Savage and his wife Gabriela Alcántara Pöhls, with the intent to enter the global luxury ready-to-wear market. Together they own and manage a high-end women's apparel and accessories design studio located at Open Square, within Holyoke’s Innovation District.

Gabriela has been sewing her own clothing since she was a little girl. “During the war, my grandmother, Lola Pöhls, would buy a bolt of muslin and sew underwear, pajamas and shirts for her five children” said Gabriela.

Sewing was a treasured skilled passed down from her grandmother, to her mother, and down to her. While Gabriela truly enjoyed her craft, she really wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father, an entrepreneur who owned a manufacturing company of plastic bottles in Mexico City.  She could see herself running the family business someday; however, “it was not mean to be as she was born a girl” said Gabriela. 

Jay Savage, a biologist by training, was born and raised in New England and holds degrees from Harvard and Cornell University.  His grandmother worked as a buyer for Bonwit Teller & Co. a department store in New York City founded by Paul Bonwit in 1895, which specialized in high-end women's apparel.  His grandmother taught him everything she knew about high-end clothing, fashion, and he developed a keen eye for quality and ability to see minor imprecisions in the manufacturing of clothing. 

When speaking, Jay’s passion for designing high quality women’s clothing is evident. His contemporary designs have been featured on the pages of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, on several network television shows, and in Hollywood films.

Back in the 1990’s, Jay owned and managed a clothing factory in Holyoke working with knits, leather, and sewing bathing suits. Most of the merchandise was sold within the U.S. through showrooms in New York, but they also had customers in Europe and Japan.  The factory in Holyoke, which employed 12 people at its peak, closed down in 2000 shortly after the internet bubble collapse. 

Then Jay and Gabriela met and married in 2008.

At the time they had a golden opportunity to retire and move out of Western Massachusetts, but their shared passion for creating beautiful clothing for women was calling them to start a business together. Rather moving out to New York to start their business, a no-brainer decision for a starting a business in fashion design, they remained committed to Holyoke and wanted to take an active role and continue to contribute to this community in a positive way.

“We have been criticized for putting all of our resources into the business, but we wanted to create something beautiful together here in Holyoke.  This is our passion and we decided to go with it” said Gabriela. She added “We are also extremely grateful to Mass Growth Capital Corporation and Common Capital for their support and for helping us with the financing we needed to get started”.

For the past two years they have been doing extensive market research and development to hone their skills and knowledge of industrial knitting; learning about different yarns and fabrics, sourcing, and building working relationships with suppliers and manufacturers.

“We are now looking for skilled labor, patternmakers and sewers, as we are working on creating our first collection for Spring/Summer 2016, named Lola Pöhls in honor of my grandmother”, said Gabriela.

Jay and Gabriela are just two of many entrepreneurs in Holyoke’s Innovation District and proud contributors to our local creative economy. 

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Jay Savage and his wife Gabriela Alcántara Pöhls in their design studio located at Open Square in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Photo Credit: Samalid Hogan