Rialto Jean Project Owner Navigates New Mom Life

Local designer Erin Feniger Maggio finds passion and purpose

Running a business while entering motherhood may seem daunting or impossible, but for Rialto Jean Project (RJP) founder Erin Feniger Maggio, it’s what she has long been preparing for. Erin and her husband, Kenny Maggio, welcomed their daughter, Edyie Fen, to the world in January. 

A native of Ottawa Hills, Erin and her husband returned to Toledo in 2018 to start a family after launching her fashion brand five years ago. RJP started in California, then spread to New York and eventually across the globe.  RJP jeans have been worn by Oprah and Jessica Alba,  among many others.

Evolving business and roles 

RJP is now based out of Toledo with showrooms in California and New York. Setting up shop in the Vistula District has given RJP a front row seat to the revitalization of downtown and the opportunity to collaborate with local designers. Business boomed throughout the pandemic, keeping Maggio busy, but not too busy to prepare for her daughter’s arrival. Taking the time to build her team with trusted friends and personal connections years ago, a sense of family was also created at work. “I worked really hard to build my business,” Maggio explains. “I also tried really hard for a long time to have my baby.” 

By the time Edyie Fen arrived, Maggio and her husband were as prepared as possible. “I really have the ideal situation,” she says. “We have a great support system from my family, and I have the best team at work.” Three of her teammates are also moms, so their support has been invaluable. Not only are they able to take the lead with events and collaborations, but they also offer advice on parenting topics like breastfeeding and childcare routines. 

Design with purpose 

Maggio’s company occupies 7,000 square feet downtown, providing ample space for social distancing during the pandemic, as well as a nice space for Edyie Fen to join her mom at work. “I really have the ideal set-up,” Erin notes. “Everything I have at home, I also have downtown at our office. I am working primarily from home, but am able to run downtown, especially when we are working on a new design.” 

Having a strong and supportive team meant not taking as much maternity leave as some might expect. Maggio laughed as she described only taking a month off after giving birth. The bonus of having such a reliable team made it easy to delegate responsibilities and to keep production going. Having everything she needed in two locations and a family friendly work environment made for a seamless transition back to work. 

Minimizing stress 

Erin has quickly learned to compartmentalize as a way to maximize her time. Taking advantage of nap times allows her to stay connected to designers and her team even if she isn’t

at the store. “I’ve learned just how much more I can get done in an hour when I know that’s all the time I’m going to have,” she says. 

Prior to starting RJP, Erin was learning how to live with an autoimmune disease that she managed with art therapy, both Eastern and traditional medicines, and stress management. Learning to manage stress in such a profound way also helped her to know what she needed in her environment to feel calm and confident when bringing her new baby home. She says she went out of her way to have space where she could stay focused on her daughter and her business without unnecessary stress. Erin offers this advice to new moms: “Create an environment, as much as you can, that keeps you relaxed and carefree.” 

Q&A with Erin: 

Describe your life in 6 words. Family, loyal, drive, rollercoaster, creative, free spirit. 

Favorite Designer: Ralph Lauren. 

What is an ideal day with your family in Toledo? Taking a walk in our neighborhood with my husband, daughter and our dog, then meeting friends for a late lunch or dinner and seeing family. 

Describe Toledo in one sentence. It is consistently surprising.