When thinking about my creativity interview series, Jessie Randall of the super cool shoes and accessories brand, Loeffler Randall, was one of the first that came to mind. I’ve been a fangirl of Jessie since she graced the cover of Domino magazine back in 2006! That same iconic pink poster “For Like Ever” is proudly displayed in my kids’ room and reminds me of that brilliant cover that made me fall in love with Domino and its darling cover star, Jessie Randall.
I think one of the things that’s always attracted me to Jessie and her designs is how in line it is with what I’m loving, too. We share a love of pink, interior design, books and the love of recreating yourself. If there is one thing that’s apparent from this interview, it’s that she loves to learn. I believe that one of the key elements of a successful creative entrepreneur is to always flex your creative muscle; to continually push yourself to learn new things and to explore the unknown. Jessie is the perfect example of this. She’s on the hunt for the next big (or little) thing that will inspire her and help grow her brand.
Photos by Kelly Ann Rose
Tell me a little about yourself. How did you end up where you are today?
I grew up in Worcester, MA, and went to college at the University of Virginia. I took a job right out of school working in advertising (where I met my husband and business partner, Brian) then went back to school for fashion while also interning in the industry. I worked in the industry for several years and then started my collection. We launched for fall 2005 and were so lucky to sell into Bergdorf Goodman our first season.
How would you describe your creative style?
I like to explore my creativity in lots of different things. For example, I’m taking a creative nonfiction writing class now, knitting a baby gift and taking sewing lessons. All these things, I believe, make me more creative in my job. They keep my creative mind flexible.
What’s your earliest memory of having a creative breakthrough?
Such a good question! I loved making things as a child. Probably my first creative pursuit was a project my mom had us work on when we were little. My mom is very into poetry and she typed up her favorite children’s poems and had my brother and me draw illustrations for each one. We made it into a book that we would read all the time.
Tell me a little about your creative work flow. How does an idea go from inception to finished product?
As I mentioned, taking classes and learning new techniques and skills are a big part of my process. These things always help me develop ideas. I also am constantly looking around me and getting inspired by art, flowers, nature, playing around with fabric on a sewing machine, etc.
If your work was edible, what would it taste like?
It would be sophisticated and sweet.
Favorite color to work with and why?
Pink has always been my love. It’s always been our signature color. I love how chic it is and the fact that it is flattering and goes with everything. My mother favors pastels and I think that neutral color palette was ingrained in me from a very young age.
Where do you get inspired? Can you also share a few local spots you visit for inspiration?
I love to look at the colors and materials at Purl Soho. I run up to the garment district and look for fabrics at Elegant Fabrics. Once a year, I like to treat myself to an art tour by my friend Gisela Gueiros. I love to decorate my home and am so inspired by ceramics and beautiful textiles.
I love that you share mood boards for each collection. How do you go about searching for inspiration and creating the mood?
Thank you! It’s always nice to start with a board because it creates a vibe and clear focus right from the beginning. The collection doesn’t always end up where we started, but it’s good to have a strong starting point. I just pull things that I like to look at like raw materials, artwork, images of inspiring places, etc.
Do you think being creative is learned or something we all have within us? How can people bring out and cultivate their creative side?
I think it’s both something innate and something that needs to be nurtured. I do think some people have a greater capacity to think creatively, but there are lots of different kinds of creativity, too—not just artistic creativity. Creativity is making connections between disparate things—isn’t that something that Steve Jobs said? You need to keep your mind fluid and have lots of reference points.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
I love shoes so much. It’s not hard to stay inspired about designing the shoes I want in my closet each season. But again, taking classes, learning new things, staying inspired, traveling—these things keep me moving forward.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
Oh, every single day. Every minute. I am just someone who rarely gives up. I keep going. Sometimes it’s hard and I can get down on myself. But I love design and there is always something I am looking forward to.
How do you tune out all the noise and focus on being authentic?
I’m a very authentic and honest person. I’m a terrible liar and I am too honest sometimes. I try to keep my head down and work on the things that make me happy. I try not to compare myself to others (although it’s hard). I read these quotes from Abraham Hicks about focusing on what makes you happy, following your joy, stuff like that. It works!
What are a few things you do to encourage creativity for your three children?
We are always working on projects together. I also try to always have lots of art supplies around at all times, and majorly limiting technology helps, too.
You’re great at finding and supporting amazing artists, makers and creatives. Why is that important to you and the LR brand?
I just love and am so inspired by other creative women—from the women in my women’s design group to artists I admire to friends of mine who are incredible artists. Nothing makes me happier than to own a ceramic or art piece or something for my home that was made by someone I admire. I love those things that are special with a personal connection.
Sometimes it’s hard and I can get down on myself. But I love design and there is always something I am looking forward to.
Favorite daily ritual?
When my son Harry comes into my bed each morning to snuggle. Best part of my day!
Favorite read for when you’re feeling uninspired?
I love memoirs and other nonfiction writing. The Bell Jar is one I always come back too when I’m feeling a little down.
3 films or shows to watch to get inspired?
I don’t really watch much TV and I haven’t seen a movie in the theater in ages. Lately, I’ve started watching “The Great British Bake Off” and it’s inspiring me to bake with my kids.
“We would like you to reach the place where you’re not willing to listen to people criticize one another…where you take no satisfaction from somebody being wrong…where it matters to you so much that you feel good, that you are only willing to think positive things about people…you are only willing to look for positive aspects; you are only willing to look for solutions, and you are not willing to beat the drum of all the problems of the world.” – Abraham Hicks
Jessie’s Book List:
- My Year Of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh: I love to sleep, so this is perfect for me.
- Fashion Climbing: A Memoir with Photographs by Bill Cunningham: I once wrote to Bill and he wrote me back. I’m such a big fan of this lovely, sensitive and talented man.
- My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper: I love a good book about an overachiever.
- This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett: Nonfiction is my favorite and this is a lovely collection of essays.
- Crazy Salad and Scribble Scribble by Nora Ephron: If you want to know how to write with a distinct, original voice, this is the book.
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: I read this every year. A good one for when you feel sad.
- Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover: It’s on everyone’s list. I found it fascinating.
- The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante: Absolutely brilliant and I’m so curious about who Elena Ferrante really is.
- Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast: Roz is my favorite author and cartoonist. I read her books to my 8-year-old because he finds them hilarious. Possibly not age-appropriate, but he loves them.
- This is Mexico City by Abby Clawson Low. A beautiful look at a place I’d love to visit.
- Redefining Realness by Janet Mock. Janet is one of my heroes. Such an amazing woman!