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Rising Stars: Meet Jess Meany

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jess Meany.

Hi Jess, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I have been so fortunate to grow my career in apparel and textile development within several beautiful fashion brands. One of the larger issues an apparel brand faces is managing obsolete materials. This can include excess fabric leftover from production, sample yardage we didn’t get through, or fabric we ordered before a style was dropped from a collection. This can add up quickly each season, and I often found myself daydreaming different ways that textiles could have a second life chapter. In 2019 I took my first step into bringing my daydream to life and launched Jess Meany, a collection made entirely of obsolete, deadstock and vintage materials sewn locally in Los Angeles, CA.

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?
Obstacles are these strangely unforeseeable things that if we knew about them in advance, we could prepare for them and they probably wouldn’t be so much of an issue in the first place. I have been thinking about how to answer this for like a week now because every day everyone manages their own unique challenges and obstacles, so what are really the challenges worth sharing anyways? My father passed on the first day of 2020, so I navigated the early months of my business and LA’s newly announced quarantine by leaning into my grief and spending a lot of time with myself mostly sewing. I didn’t even have a table to sew on, so I sewed sitting on the ground in the bedroom with the machine on the floor. My business is self-funded, I saved up a little money from a freelance job that ended right before my father passed, so I wanted to be careful investing into patterns, grading, and materials. If I sold a couple of coats, I purchased materials for a couple more. Things moved so slowly at the beginning that I was actively interviewing for full-time jobs as I second-guessed my business idea. I share all this because these are all good examples of being patient, being kind to yourself, holding family and friends close, and knowing not everything is going to be comfortable as you guide yourself through uncharted territories and start a new chapter for yourself.

Tell our readers more about what you do and the pieces you make?
I love the concept of adorning ourselves with pieces that at some point stopped serving the purpose they originally intended to. My work is to provide a second life chapter for items that already exist on our planet. Is there a family quilt that has been sitting in your basement for a decade? I’ve washed, mended and sewn these family heirlooms into coats for clients to honor their loved one’s work in a new way. Vintage cutwork tablecloths find new life as structured lounge shirts. I’ve used cottons & linens leftover from other brands to create pleated pants and long, loosely tailored blazers. I’ve been spending weekends sifting through rock fragments left outside of mining sites to create small pieces of jewelry. Creating my apparel leaves cutting scraps leftover, and I have been using these as appliqué work on my pieces. I have never thought of myself as much of a designer, it seems more like my duty as a Being on the Earth to help tidy objects up and be so special again.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I have gone through chapters of my life believing there is no such thing as luck, just stuff like tough work and careful planning. However, moving to Los Angeles was not a plan. Only after I was laid off at a dream job and my father was diagnosed with cancer in the same season did I throw everything in my car and drive to Los Angeles to be with family & friends, and plan my own business – I wanted to have a job where I made the big choices myself, and I did not want my career to be determined by a spreadsheet ever again. Throughout life, we are given a lot of chances to find opportunities and make choices. Different outcomes can occur in our lives at probably every second. I have spent most of those seconds making decisions that I hope will help my business grow. I grow my brand little by little – I want it to be sustainable in its ethos, but also in of itself. I teach myself components of the business that I don’t know, I ask a lot of questions, I ask for a lot of help. I feel like if I’m not in a slightly agitated mood today, I am probably not learning something that is going to make me a better person tomorrow. I still don’t think I know what luck is or what it really means but I am thankful I took a lot of chances on the choices I made to be where I am right now.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Ian Kagihara (my boyfriend) took the pic of me, I took all of the other images!

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