Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessie Jamz.
Jessie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My path wasn’t linear in any way shape or form, but somehow it all fell into place! I definitely did not know it would work out at the time!! Ha. I have been making art my whole life. Photography, painting, sculpture, you name it, it was my thing.
I went to Idyllwild Arts Academy for high school, and then San Francisco Art Institute for college, where I graduated with a dual BFA in Painting and Graphic Design. From there I got hired right out of college by Ed Hardy (oh you know the one!) as a graphic designer. I was pretty miserable, working in an office for 15 hours a day designing rhinestone placement for terrible bedazzled tattoo art.
Right before a trade show, they fired their jacket designer and needed someone to fill her place. I somehow got roped into the position where I had to figure out what I was doing as I went. It took me to double the amount of time it would have taken someone knowing what they were doing, but I made it work! I had to go on set to shoot the things I had designed, and this was probably the first time I discovered what styling was.
As soon as I really learned how to design clothes, I quit Ed Hardy and moved around to design for other local Los Angeles companies. I simultaneously started a party photography website (hey, it was of the time!) and started shooting at night after work. I began hanging with a crew of stylists, and we would do passion projects together as a team- from music videos to editorials. Between dipping my toes in photography and styling, I quickly realized that set what where I wanted to be – not in an office.
I quit working for the man, and decided to go freelance! It was hard work and fluctuated a lot, but I was so invested in making this my career that I didn’t let failure be an option. I would say about three years ago I really catapulted myself forward. My work with Ashton (Sanders) got me a lot of notoriety and put us both on the map in the fashion world. I honestly don’t think I would be where I am now if it weren’t for working with him.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Oh man. Definitely not a smooth road. People think that styling is glamorous, but it is one of the more brutal jobs in the industry. It has been a hard pill to swallow at times, and I’ve even quit and come back to it. I’m probably a masochist, but I also love my job SO much.
First of all- it’s hard to actually make money as a stylist! When you are shooting an editorial, there is often little to no budget, so depending on the publication the stylist ends up paying for shipping from designers themselves! I have definitely spent thousands of my own money on editorials just to have my name in a prestigious magazine. Because of that, I am a little more choosy these days, but in the beginning its part of what you have to do to get your name out there.
Then there’s the celebrity world. When you’re dressing a celebrity for red carpet you have the publicist, the designer, the celebrity themselves, the managers, and possibly the parents if it’s a younger client- AND you have to make all of these people happy. A lot of times designers come with rules or expectations to wear a complete look if they’re lending for an event. I’ve had situations where the celeb doesn’t let me know that they’re changing something and I get an angry call from a designer asking what’s going on. Not fun. BUT! When you nail it, a lot of eyes are on it, and this can be some of the best publicity there is.
On set for ad shoots (which is the world I primarily work in these days) the stylist is the first to get there and the last to leave (aside from producers). I will get to a shoot around 7 am, don’t sit down or use the restroom until lunch, where I then take the time to reorganize and go overlooks, and then once the shoot wraps 12 hours later I go home and begin prepping the next shoot. There are so many days where I work 18 hour days. People often see us being goofy on set- its because we are all losing our minds!
Honestly, its so easy to complain, but I have to pinch myself regularly and remind myself how lucky I am to be able to do what I do. It really is unbelievable, and I am SO SO grateful. When things come together, and you make something good with incredible people, its because you worked SO hard for it, and it really makes it all worth it. I can’t say enough how much I love my job.
We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I am a wardrobe stylist! The other day someone said, “yeah, but what’s your day job?” And I said, “that IS my job!” I feel so lucky.
I occasionally will style a celebrity or editorial, however advertising photoshoots are really where my heart is. Some of my clients are Puma, Beats by Dre, Nike, Disney, and Adidas to name a few! I absolutely LOVE styling advertising, and really feel I’ve found my niche. Because I have a small hand in the fashion world as well, I do believe I bring a fresh vibe to the Ad work I do.
Keeping a positive attitude on set can also really set you apart from the rest. The days on set are long and can be difficult, but if you have post vibes, everyone benefits!! Also: being nice to people is never a bad thing.
I feel really proud of the life that I built for myself. I’ve put SO much hard work into it (and still do constantly), that everything I have feels like I made. There is no better feeling than working hard for what you want and having it come to fruition. I do feel like there is always more work to do, and part of what pushes me is constantly reevaluating myself and seeing how I can do better and grow myself as a business.
What were you like growing up?
I was always very creative, and a total freak of nature. Dress up was by far my favorite, along with making dance videos by myself in my bedroom. I think I am pretty much exactly the same as I was when I was six, but maybe with a slightly stronger work ethic.
- Website: www.jessiejamz.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessiejamz/
Shaughn and John (@Shaughn_and_john)