#howimend: Frilly Founder Jeni Ni On How She Built Resilience After Heartbreak


By Kate Paguinto

Jeni Ni is one of the co-founders behind Frilly, a fashion startup based in DTLA that specializes in customizable, sustainable made-to-order clothing. She is also a proud dog mom, fitness enthusiast and thrill-seeker (um...skydiving and bungee jumping?! Yikes!)

We asked Jeni about her experience with heartbreak and she shared how ending her first real relationship taught her resilience and helped her understand what makes a healthy relationship.

If you think back to the first time you were heartbroken, what advice would you give to that younger version of yourself?

"I had a hard time thinking of which heartbreak this was for me, because when I was 15, I lost my father, and that heartbreak I will carry with me forever. But I think for this, I will reference my college self, when I had my first true relationship.

Let yourself feel what you're going through. Don't try to distract yourself. Care less about what other people think and focus on what YOU need right now. Be comfortable in the space you're in right now. Feel what you're feeling. Write about it, play more music, spend time with friends. Let go. Give yourself some space, and look after yourself."

What has heartbreak taught you about yourself?

"Heartbreak has taught that I am more resilient than I give myself credit for. That I can do anything I put my mind to. That I have the capacity to be strong even when I feel broken. That I have the most amazing, down ass friends there are. How very truly loyal my family and friends are. How loved I am, even when I am at my lowest. That I can be gracious and kind and thoughtful, even when someone is breaking my heart. That some heartbreaks never heal, you just learn better how to live with them."


What are your rituals during a breakup? What things/practices/people helped you mend?

"Not talking to the person I'm breaking up with, including social media/etc. Wine nights with my best friends. Working out - a lot. Cuddling my dog(s). Writing letters to myself and to the person I am breaking up with (that I don't send). Reading. Bubble baths. Plunging into the ocean to reset. Going out with friends. Talking to my mother. Letting myself break down and cry. Cooking a lot. Playing the guitar. Writing songs. De-cluttering my apartment."

Thinking back to breakups you’ve had, did you have any breakup vices (checking your ex’s Insta, etc) and how do you conquer them?

"I have DEFINITELY lurked people (my exes, their new girlfriends, their ex-girlfriends) on social media before and I feel like that only makes you feel worse... Better to just keep it moving. Since my first (college love) breakup I have been pretty consistent in completely cutting off contact with my exes after we break up. I find that a clean break makes for the easiest and most clean healing. I just talk to my friends when I feel the urge to talk to the person I'm breaking from, and try to just focus on living my own life and all the things about it that make me happy." 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about love so far in your life?

"There are so many kinds of love, and a lot of the time, when it comes to relationships, love isn't love. It's something else. It's infatuation or adoration or a mix of things. And that can be a kind of love in itself, but my idea of what love in a relationship is, is something that both parties work for, that can be easy, and can be hard, but is an evolving, moving thing. 

I think that love isn't a dependency on another person. I believe that the truest form of love is love that builds each other up, that complements each other, rather than just paying a lot of compliments to each other. I don't think love needs to be proven via showy acts or posts on social media. Love is holding down your partner and learning them and growing together and communicating your needs and wants to the other person, and listening and trying your best to understand their needs and wants in return. But you have to love yourself and give yourself time and space to be comfortable in being alone with yourself before you can find the love you deserve to have. There's a quote that I love about love:

'Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.' - Kahlil Gibran

Kind of like the Shel Silverstein missing piece poem, about how you can't look for someone to fill your emptiness. You have to fill it yourself before you can truly find the love and partnership you deserve with someone else." 

Do you think exes can be friends? Do you stay friends with your exes on social media?

"I think after time, and with forgiveness, anyone can be friends with each other. I have reconnected with almost every person I've dated and we've been able to be friends, after giving each other the space we needed to heal and grow apart from each other. I usually stop talking with them for a period of time, unfollow them on everything, and when we reconnect we are different people who have new life experiences to share with each other (ideally) and we become friends in a new capacity."

What is your favorite song about heartbreak?

"Right now I'm really vibing with Khalid - Saved | Coaster | Shot Down, but I will always be an emo kid at heart, and Brand New - The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot is a forever favorite of mine."

What projects are you currently working on, and looking forward to most?

"Currently I'm working on a personal passion project - frilly! We are bringing customizable fashion to a tangible reality, using our cutting edge 3-D technology, amazing in-house designers (that hail from the likes of Marc Jacobs and Monique Lhuillier), an eco-friendly, sustainable stance, and a ton of blood, sweat, and tears."

writer photo

Kate Paguinto

Kate is a Content Strategist and co-owner of Dizzy Cactus. She likes puns, Wes Anderson, and the Oxford comma.

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