Made in Britain: Jessie and James

What does your company do? What products or services does it provide?

Jessie and James is a high quality, modern kidswear brand featuring innovative cutting principals and new silhouettes – to bring out and enhance the fun in children’s characters.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Both Jessie and I worked with Vivienne Westwood in London for many years and that’s how we met. Working in high-fashion teaches you how to cut and design clothes in an interesting and playful way, so everything that children’s clothes should be. After the birth of our son Billy, Jessie started to design clothes for him from our London flat and the first ‘tip-toe trouser’ was handmade at home. Next came our signature ‘T-squared’ t-shirt and then a jumpsuit. We really started to see a gap in the market for a luxury clothing range for kids which was fun but still comfortable and wearable, so we started developing new silhouettes. This then developed into a small collection for boys and girls and the Jessie and James brand was born.

When did you start up, and what support were you given?

We started up in January 2011 with our first Spring Summer collection and gratefully accepted the tireless support of our family and friends! Every season we grew our wholesale cliental and we increased our online orders.  As we grew the collection and attended more exhibitions internationally, family really helped.  We have two small children so the challenge of working and looking after two boys had always been massive.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Creating a high-end brand from the very beginning is a huge achievement in itself. To then see our collections in top Department stores such as Harvey Nichols and Liberty London is just amazing.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

The biggest challenge in the beginning was finding the right people to produce our designs at the high standards that we would accept.  The challenge now is to achieve a global brand awareness and to be recognised as pioneers in the kids fashion industry. 

How would you say you differentiate yourself from the competition?

As we both have a strong design background, what sets us apart are our designs.  No one out there is creating children’s clothes like us, from a design perspective, but we want to make sure that we combine fashion with comfort, as that’s the most important thing for children. That’s why we only source the finest 100% cottons from the UK, Portugal and Italy and choose the best manufacturers and mills that understand our idea of quality and design.

We always do something unique, a little bit quirky or something special to be ahead of the competition.  We never look at trends, we just create new exciting styles and push the boundaries with ideas and unique cutting principles to create new silhouettes and garments.  We have fun designing the clothes and we want children to enjoy the clothes and have fun wearing them.

What has been the best decision you have made to-date?

I think choosing the kidswear market was the best decision we made.  We did a lot of research first to see where there was something missing in fashion and kidswear stood out to us.  With the ideas we had and the brand’s ethos, kidswear really was the obvious choice.

Where do you see the business in 12 months’ time?

We’ve got big plans to enhance the Jessie and James brand over the next 12 months and it’s a really exciting time. We’re not only looking to open a new flagship store in London, but we’re working on the introduction of exciting and recognisable new collections, developing new silhouettes and including a range of shoes, bags and accessories.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Firstly, always research the market you want to enter. You also need to follow your heart and be patient and, above all, believe in your product or service. You can think outside the box, create more challenges and adapt to the market and surroundings, but never get complacent. Work hard, be positive and enjoy every challenge – you will fail at some things but if you accept your failures and move on it will make you more likely to succeed in the future.

What do you find most satisfying about running a business?

I like the diversity it brings – there is always something to do, always something new to achieve, every job is different and every job is important. Watching the brand grow is incredibly satisfying and it’s exciting to see where it will go in the future.
To see the full Jessie and James collection and for further information, go to www.jessieandjames.co.uk.

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