Today we’d like to introduce you to Jackie Lee.
Hi Jackie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Being in the fashion industry is draining – I worked in the industry where work has no endpoint, your success is impossible to measure, and there’s a constant undertone that the work you are creating is just creating more and more waste…all in the name of capitalism.
Capitalism is important – commerce allows us to live comfortably, especially in our off-hours. I thought this juxtaposition was bizarre – that we put ourselves through hell from 9-5 just so we can have a few hours of unregulated bliss.
My partner and I saw this in ourselves – we worked tirelessly under extreme conditions, then went and consumed without any regard for consequences. We wanted to change this habit in ourselves – to continue to consume, but with intention and thoughtful investment. We also were inspired by women in our circle who excelled in this – spending their free time with productive, fascinating, and positive hobbies, like roller dancing, fascinating travel, screenwriting, and illustrating NFTs. Kafka Simone as a name was roughly inspired by these two ideas – based on Franz Kafka and Simone de Beauvoir.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Every step is a struggle. Between my partner and myself, we are quite adept in a wide array of practices – and yet there are so many gaps of knowledge that we’ve encountered along the way. Some have been really fun, and some feel a lot like screaming into the void.
Both of us are designers but have found that we still haven’t really solidified our brand. We’ve accepted that this may take years of us prospecting and understanding our audience. It’s scary. Our “north star” has been to try everything and then double down on things that work. It sounds a bit like we are tinkering, but that’s kind of what we are – builders.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m a designer – and I think I’ve always felt like an oddball in the fashion design world, even as early as in college. I don’t feel like I’ve fit into the crowd. Like others in the fashion world, I value originality… but that being said, I’ve always done well in my work due to empathy.
I’ve found this quality to be very apparent in other design forms (just from talking to other types of designers) but found it to be a quality that is not necessarily celebrated in fashion. So for what I’m most proud of is the garments and styles I’ve created that have become beloved by underrepresented groups, become best sellers, or used in television shows by characters that represent POCs. I’m proud to be able to accurately create things that allow people that are different from me to represent and express themselves through my work.
Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
You are not what you do for work. We’ve been seeing a lot of hashtags like #thegreatresignation, #semiretirement, and #quietquitting. It’s a shame it took a global pandemic for us to collectively reframe the way we look at life. My partner and I are no different from this – having pushed ourselves to the point of physical symptoms (I won’t gross you with details) to find it unfulfilling. We’ve immersed ourselves in passion projects and unapologetically policed ourselves in times of work crisis. I think it’s wonderful that we might be a generation that rethinks the work culture and demands meaning in our work – and allocates our energy into things that matter – being a good partner/spouse, creating delight in our community, and advocating for balance/equity for all.
All photos are copyrighted to Kafka Simone