NAME: Jackie B.
BIRTHPLACE: Akron, OH
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
A: When I was 11, I came up with a t-shirt and jean clothing line. There were lots of graphics involved, it was really kiddie. I took apart a dress I couldn’t fit anymore and made it into a halter top. I was only in the 5th grade, and I was using a Baby Singer. Designing wasn’t my top priority back then, but it gave me the knowledge that I could do it if I wanted to.
Q: What is the meaning behind The JameS Brand?
A: My brother’s name is James. Everything I do is for him, and I wanted to make his name known. The “J” and the “S” are capitalized, because his name is James Stephens and those are also my initials; I used that to emphasize our brother-sister bond since we are so close. Every year, I donate 10% of my profits to Autism Speaks on his behalf.
Q: What inspires your designs?
A: My designs are things that I want to wear but can’t find anywhere. Helping our world also inspires them. I wanted to create something that was sustainable but fashionable. I got inspired by my friend Katie, who has her own clothing line but all of her fabrics and materials are hand-dyed by fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The fashion industry has a huge impact on the world, especially since it is the third largest polluter in the world right behind oil. I just felt like I had to do something that would be impactful on the industry, but not harmful to the earth.
Q: What is the persona of your brand?
A: The JameS Brand is fearless, bad-ass. It has that “I do what I want” vibe. I have been independent from a very young age, so I feel like every piece is made for an independent woman. If you want things you have to go get it.
Q: How did you start up your own line?
A: I started it a little too early. I was over eager just to get it out there, but I am appreciative for the fact that I was able to learn and grow under the pressure. Now, I am able to do what I need to do all in one day and get things done. It has definitely disciplined me, and it’s now molding me into someone who is built for the life of a designer. You can’t just put something out there, without any thought. Rushing is a no go, it has taught me so much. If you procrastinate too long you will get slept on, left behind, and that will be it.
Q: Who or what is your biggest motivation?
A: My biggest motivation is myself. I am not supported by my family in what I do, so everything that I am doing is getting done, because it’s what I want to do. However, my brother is also my motivation, because I want to make his name known as well as raise awareness for Autistic children and Autism Speaks. Bullying was a big thing for my brother when he was in school; no one was nice to him. That’s why I want to raise awareness. I want to prove to everyone that I can do anything I put my mind to and go hard at it. I don’t need anyone’s approval.
Q: How is your personal style reflected through your brand?
A: Simplicity is key. That’s what every piece is. My style is chic, and it’s full of statement pieces. I like to wear things that I can wear anywhere for any occasion. My style is kind of laid back, but at the same time you know I’m in the room. I’m a chill person, and my brand represents that cool, chill vibe. I like to think of my style as effortless.
Q: What was the most difficult thing you have ever had to do?
A: Trying not to let discouragement and failures pick at me. Since I’m new to this and not popping yet, I had to humble myself. I had to learn when to push something, and when to let it go. I had to discipline myself, because I was getting discouraged by the lack of reception from my peers right away. When I put my all into something, I become somewhat arrogant. But when I wasn’t getting the feedback that I wanted from people that I thought supported me, it toughened me up as well as humbled me. Realizing who is there for the long run and who is not was a turning point for me.
Q: Where do you see yourself as a designer in 5 years?
A: I’m not sure. Still in the game, for sure. I hope by then I’m very established in the industry and seen as a threat. I see myself continuing doing what I love and finding inspiration. Still being creative and following my heart.
Q: What are your future goals and aspirations?
A: I want to see my work being worn in other countries. I just want to get my brand out to as many people as I can. I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere. I have lots of plans.
Q: Do you have any projects of collabs planned for the fall?
A: I’m very excited for my FW Denim that will be released this September! Also, in the spring I have a collab planned with my boyfriend who is an artist. It’s going to be a small piece, but it will have a major impact.
Q: Describe your The JameS Brand in 3 words.
A: Simple. Chic. Fashionable.
Q: Who is your favorite designer?
A: Alessandro Michele. He influenced Gucci’s Spring ’18 collection, and it’s amazing.