International Women’s Day
In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021, we take a closer look at our inspirational female designers and how they have built such incredibly successful and innovative brands.
Each year, March 8th, is set aside to commemorate the achievements of women worldwide, acknowledging how far the gender parity movement has come, whilst also calling for further action to ‘close the gap.’ As a female-led company, we wanted to take the opportunity of International Women’s Day, to celebrate our female designers and give you a closer look at how they built their brands to be what they are today.
We were also lucky enough to take a minute with each of them to find out what inspires them and their work, what they are most proud of, and who is a female figure they want to celebrate this #IWD2021.
Jen’s Pirate Booty
Jen’s Pirate Booty is known for its gauzy pieces and lace kaftans, embodying all that Jen Rossi herself is – ‘sunkissed, free spirited, a beachy bohemian gypsetter, with a strong love for her family and friends.’ The Jens Pirate Booty collections are designed and curated in Jen’s hometown of Malibu and hand-crafted by artisans in five countries, including Mexico and India. Jen has always had a passion for design and the fashion industry. From playing dress-up in her mother’s closet, to hosting homemade fashion shows and pinning up magazine tears of 90s models on her bedroom walls. By her late teens and early 20s, Jen had begun designing and sewing her own pieces, with a dream of eventually starting her own label. But her journey as a female designer was only just beginning. Jen spent two years at UC Santa Cruz studying just about everything, from criminology to biology to poetry, and then another few years living in San Diego. At 21, upon returning to Malibu, she was shopping in the then-just-opened Planet Blue at Malibu County Market and hired on the spot by owner Ling-Su Chinn. For the next fourteen years, Jen would work alongside Ling-Su as Planet Blue’s buyer and the designer of their in-house line, Blue Line. In 2006, Jen took a vacation to Mexico, where she returned with a gauzy tunic that captured the eye of all her Planet Blue shoppers. From this point onwards, Jen began to develop a very loyal following, both locally and internationally, and became one of the first real “influencers.” After several more trips, Jen made the decision to launch her own business, working directly with fabric factories in Mexico.
Nearly 15 years later, Jen’s Pirate Booty produces five collections a year and is stocked in over 500 stores worldwide. Jen’s Pirate Booty has paved the way for bohemian and beach-inspired brands and has become well-loved by some of Instagram’s most recognisable faces, including Candice Swanepoel, Alessandra Ambrosio, Elsa Pataky and Tori Praver.
See our conversation with Jen here:
What inspires you and your work?
I feel most inspired when I am listening to music or in nature, on the beach, around vivacious and creative people, feeling the warmth of the sunset on my face, looking through images of fashion from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and of course, traveling. Whenever I can find the time to step away from my phone and my emails and have time to feel and experience, I totally come alive. My senses start firing on all cylinders and the ideas and inspiration starts flowing like crazy!
Music, nature, my beautiful family, travel and human connection feed my soul and nurture and spark my creativity and imagination! Seeing new places, experiencing different cultures, meeting new people, sharing our stories, tasting different foods, touching new textiles or seeing what the local artisans create...
These are the things that get me going! However, as the owner of two busy businesses and being a Mama of 3 totally amazing little girls, finding my balance and being able to step away from the day to day isn’t as easy these days. Creating time and space takes discipline and that is something I am working on. Finding a balance and time to BE in everything I do, whether it’s time for myself, my family, my friends or with my work...I am trying to be mindful about being present and in the moment.
What's your favourite piece from your latest collection and/or Core Collection?
Choosing a favourite piece is so hard. I live in JPB and have SO many favourites. However, I am really loving the High Desert Medellin Dress in the Gold Stripe Yucca from my Spring 2021 collection. It's so easy and effortless and is the perfect balance of hippie, sexy, beachy chic. The Lurex Stripe shines like the warm sun at Golden Hour, while the earthiness of the Yucca colored base fabric tones it down to perfection. The shape of this dress is timeless and can be worn free and floaty for your more casual events. Or for a bit of added flair, you can pull the fabric closer to your body with a belt and situate the slits to show your high thighs. Our High Desert fabric is made using Eco-Friendly vegetable dyes, free of pollutants and allergens, derived completely from natural sources. A few of my all-time favourite pieces from over the years are The Mykonos Kaftan, the Lapis Maxi dress in Gauze, the Palmetto Station Suit in every colour and the Maiden Robe in Gauze.
What are you most proud of to date?
I am most proud of working my way up in the fashion industry from starting out as a "folder" at Planet Blue at the age of 21, to where I am today. I didn't have any prior experience in this industry, nor did I go to college or have a degree in fashion design, buying or merchandising. I just happened to stumble into the right place at the right time and the founder saw my ambition and felt my passion ~ so she took me under her wings and quickly gave me the reins. Within a year or so, I was the buyer of one of the most well-known and wildly successful Boutiques in the U.S. and continued to do that for the next 14 years.
About 3/4 of the way through my career there, I began Jen's Pirate Booty. I saw what was missing in the market and what I wanted to wear but could not find...so I created it. It was a very different time in fashion. Everything was so special, so sacred. Trends lasted longer than one season and websites and Social Media weren't really a thing yet. People walked into stores to shop. It was an entirely different experience. It was a golden moment in time that I really hope we can bring back at some point.
Jen's Pirate Booty is coming up on its' 15th year in business and believe it or not, we have finally just began spreading our wings and touching parts of this globe that we always dreamed of touching!
Amanda Thomas began her career as a jewellery designer at age 14, with a mission to create affordable and quality pieces that would instil a sense of confidence in her customers. What started off as an after-school hobby has now grown into a global brand, stocked in 100s of stores worldwide and seen on some of fashion and Hollywood’s biggest names. Including the pages of Vogue, the Hadid and Jenner sisters, Emily Ratajkowski and Hailey Bieber.
Amanda fell in love with the art of jewellery making as a teenager, while working an after-school job at the Abbot-Kinney boutique, Madley. From here, she began creating individual pieces for her and her friends towear. At 16, while shopping at LA’s fashion emporium Fred Segal, Amanda was approached by the head buyer and invited to a buyer’s meeting. Fred Segal bought all 20-pieces from Amanda’s homemade collection, and by the time she graduated high school, her pieces were available in 12 different locations and she had begun development on her own e-commerce site.
Amanda went on to complete a BFA in Graphic Design from the Otis College of Art and Design and intern for designer Rachel Polly, celebrity stylist Cristina Erhlich and Who What Wear. With this experience behind her she was able to grow Luv AJ, transforming it from a small boutique of homemade pieces to a cult jewellery brand, ultimately landing her on the Forbes ’30 Under 30’ List in 2015.
Luv AJ has now become globally recognised for its core collection of hoops, statement necklaces and pave pieces, including the bestselling Cross Hoops and Pave Amalfi Tube Hoops. They have also collaborated with a number of major brands and influencers including Express and @endlesslyloveclub, who shot the content for their Spring ’21 Collection.