It is with tremendous sadness that MR reports the passing of Jenny Au, a beloved sales executive in the menswear industry with a sparkling personality and tremendous passion for people, product, and life itself. She died on Friday evening, surrounded by family (and listening to close friends share funny stories via phone) from a rare form of abdominal cancer that she fought valiantly to beat for almost two years. She had just turned 57.
Originally from Kowloon Hong Kong, Jenny’s family moved to Florida when she was 10 years old. Her parents opened a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale (Happy House; of course, Jenny worked there!) Growing up, Jenny proved to be a smart, ambitious, fun-loving young lady, eventually studying fashion merchandising at Boston College and starting her career at The Tannery in Boston.
Her lifelong friend Bonnie Fimiano describes her as “the epitome of fashion perfection with an unbelievable sense of humor and a flair for sarcasm. She was so funny and such fun to be around. She never held back her feelings as anyone who experienced the wrath of Jenny’ can testify. She was demanding, with high standards, but in the process, she elevated everyone around her. And everyone loved her. In addition to her adored daughter Megan, Jenny loved disco music; I can now picture her dancing to the BeeGees in heaven.”
Ken Haruta was among those Jenny inspired. “She was a tough boss but a one-of-a-kind friend and we became closer after working together at Raffi. I will always remember her for speaking her mind and for the passion she put into everything she did. Rest in peace, my friend.”
Jill Goldsmith was a close friend who worked for Jenny at Raffi. “Jenny was a very special woman. Anyone who knew her would agree that she was fierce, sophisticated, smart, diligent, and funny. She was a wonderful daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend. Her love for her daughter was all-encompassing. Her friendships were just as important as she cherished bonds with some for 40+ years. Passionate in her work, she loved her colleagues as well as her customers. She was a great mentor to those who worked for her and she always pushed you to be the best version of yourself. She was dedicated to her family and career and left an impact on anyone lucky enough to have known her. The fashion industry, New York City, and travel were among her passions; she was also a foodie who dined in fabulous restaurants and knew all the great little local spots. Jenny was one of a kind who will be greatly missed.”
Raffi Shaya tells MR that he and his family are deeply saddened to hear the news. “Jenny worked for us for about seven years as our sales manager and she was like another daughter to me. She was strong, smart, fiercely loyal, and forward-thinking. I was always grateful for her advice and send sincere condolences to her family, especially to her daughter Megan who she adored.”
Gary Williams was also a big fan. “I am so heartbroken to hear this tragic and sad news! I’ve been fortunate to have known Jenny for more than 20 years. She was an incredibly talented, charismatic, and spirited person who I truly appreciated as a friend and confidant. A tireless worker, she was highly respected and well-liked by everyone across our industry. Jenny added value, making every brand she was ever associated with so much better just by her very presence. My thoughts and prayers are with her young daughter and family during this difficult time.”
Pat MonPere of Patrick James was also saddened to hear the news. “I got to know Jenny when she was sales manager at Raffi years ago. She could be tough when needed, but had a heart of gold. Our daughters were close in age, and she always would light up when speaking about Megan. She has left us way too soon.”
Lisa Brown from Bosca Accessories was another of Jenny’s friends. “Jenny was a dynamo,” she sums up. “She fought so hard but unfortunately the cancer won. She was truly a wonderful person and my heart is broken for her sweet daughter Megan.”
Sid Stumacher first worked with Jenny at Penguin and recalls her feisty spirit. “She had that mouth,” he recalls. “You never knew what would come out it. But that’s what I most admired about her: there was no BS; she was totally real.” Fashion writer John Jones agrees, “I always appreciated her amazing, acerbic sense of humor, even while she was no-nonsense about business. I loved chatting with her because she pulled no punches.”
Jenny is survived by her mother Helen Au, her sister Sandy Au, her brother Wang Au, his ex-wife Dina, his current wife Angelina, his daughter Sasha, Jenny’s wonderful caregivers, and her lifelong best friend Bonnie Fimiano. She was pre-deceased by her father Ki Au. She is also survived by her loving cousins Vance, James and Jenny, her husband Johnny Liu and, the main reason why she fought so hard to beat this cancer: her beloved daughter Megan Liu.
For those who can find it in their hearts, there’s a special scholarship fund being set-up by Bonnie Fimiano for Megan’s college education, always Jenny’s primary concern. Checks of any amount can be made out to Megan Liu, c/o Bonnie Fimiano, 19512 South Coquina Way, Weston, FL 33332. (Write Megan’s College Fund on the check memo.)
Rest in Peace Jenny Au. You inspired so many and were loved more than you knew.