Jessica Reese: Owner and Designer, James Street
This week we got new James Street pieces up on the site, a no-fuss, easy to wear, yet also chic looking knitwear brand based in Utah (yes, you heard it right!). Starting a fashion business in Seattle is probably uncommon enough to some people, let alone Utah. From what I remember, Utah is a very mountain-y (is that a word??), ski town resort. The Internet is a wonderful thing, but you also have to be smart to figure out how to get your business to thrive, which is what Jessica Reese, the owner and designer of @jamesstreetco is doing. Read on to see her story.
“I am a Utah native and am currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah with my husband ( Paul) and my german shepard ( Calvin). I run James Street out of my downtown home studio and my husband does land acquisition for his family’s housing company.
Running my own business always seemed like something I was just going to do. But coming from a small mountain town in northern Utah, there isn’t a ton of opportunity for creatives ( especially in fashion) so you’re kind of forced to make your own opportunity. My professional career did not start in fashion; I studied and worked as an interior designer in Salt Lake City for some time until I decided to go back to school in knitwear fashion design in Los Angeles. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Interior Design and try to do little projects here and there. But starting your own clothing brand takes a lot of time and effort so this past year I decided to put all my focus into James Street.
Oh the first year of launching .... LOTS of learning and patience. I mean the hardest part is getting to the point to actually have something to launch. Once you do that you are just constantly learning and improving your business along the way. The main thing to remember is that everyone makes mistakes and every brand/business started somewhere.
I am a very list-oriented person. I start and end my day with a list. This has really helped me stay focused and feel like things are moving. With a background in Interior Design you have to get really good and time management, so that has really helped me with staying on top of my day to day tasks. In this industry it sometimes feels like everything hits you at once and time is never on your side. But just do your best everyday and don’t feel guilty about taking some time for yourself to decompress. Trying to maintain a balance is always key. I am a firm believer that it’s not the amount of time spent working but the quality of work you do. One of the positives of running your own business is you can adjust your schedule around other things. This sometimes is hard to do because you feel like you should always be working. But taking time for yourself will make you run a better business in the long run.
As a designer and owner of a small brand I am very mindful about what I am putting out there. I always try to design my collection with intent. I don’t really follow trends but try to make clothing that is timeless. The first question I always ask myself when developing a style is, “ If I am running out the door, bed head and no make-up, would I want to grab this?” That is what ‘real’ clothing staples are to me - items that make you feel like your true self.
Outside of work, my first thought is coffee.. I love a good neighborhood coffee morning ritual --- my husband calls me a “coffee snob” but I just think if you’re drinking it everyday you should LOVE it. My other passion is probably skincare... I mean, aren’t we all trying to find the perfect cocktail? It can get a little crazy at times but I love researching trying new things. I am currently trying out the hanacure facial mask that turns you old - it is hilarious but I am really liking it so far. But once I am caffeinated & have all my serums on, my husband and I love food and traveling. I love exploring new places, there is nothing better than having a trip to look forward too.“