Today I am very happy to introduce JJ to you all, as this week’s interview subject! JJ is one of those super cool women that you can’t help but admire – she owns her own business in the creative industry, has a closet full of amazing clothes and accessories, and possesses the innate style to pull it all off to boot. JJ is also one of the nicest (and sweetest) ladies ever, and was kind enough to share some photos of her closet with us today. Enjoy meeting JJ!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
Hi, I’m JJ. I’m a business owner in the creative field and I’m an East Coast gal.
What’s it like to work in the creative field? What are some of the best unique aspects, and some of the not so good? How’d you land where you are?
I’ve loved art history for as long as I could remember. Growing up, I actually wanted to be a curator or an art appraiser. However, the realist in me decided that particular field might not be very popular with employers, so I went for design instead, which I do also have an interest in. After graduation I had the pleasure of working with clients such as Hallmark, Coca-Cola, Nokia and Nike. The creative field is very competitive because a lot of times, whatever you come up with, it has been done before. But I’ve learned to challenge myself because of it. The key is to give my clients something new, powerful and completely their own. One of the best thing about working in this field is that your mind is being put to work 24/7 and you can draw inspirations from literally everything, so the amount of ideas and possibilities are endless; and let’s face it, it’s very cool to see your vision come to life. I can’t really think of anything bad, honestly!
How’d you land where you are now, as a business owner? Any future plans?
I decided to start my own business because I wanted to escape the office politics in the corporate environment, and just focus on what I really enjoy doing. Everyone in my firm is very design-oriented and easy going. I can honestly say going to work is now something I look forward to every morning. Not that I plan to change profession any time soon, but I’ve recently applied for the Art History program at Oxford University (fingers crossed). What can I say, a girl can never forget her first love.
I know you are a travel lover! What are your favorite destinations?
Yes I am I often find myself the happiest when I’m exploring the world. Some of my favorite destinations are Cape Town, Naples, Hong Kong & Tokyo for shopping; Nice for a quiet picturesque vacation; Paris & Rome for rich art history & culture; and every now and then, one needs a Vegas trip to de-stress.
There are still many places I want to visit; currently at the top of my list is an expedition trip to Antarctica!
How about your favorite airline to fly? I love hearing about the airlines of choice for frequent flyers!
I fly with Delta the most because they are very customer oriented so 1) Impeccable service, 2) Low flight cancellation/delay rate, 3) Great reward program, whether it’s through your Skymiles account or Delta Amex card, 4) Convenient iPhone app for easy booking and trip management, 5) Multiple destinations around the world. I know I’m starting to sound like a Delta rep, but I’m constantly on the go so I need an airline that can offer features like those to make my trips as easy and smooth as possible.
I’ve also really enjoyed the a few trips I took with Emirates. Five star service all around, but it does cost a (huge) pretty penny so can’t splurge on too many of those!
I know that you have a love of skulls/rock n’ roll accessories. Can you share some of your favorite pieces and your collection?
A few favorite pieces include Alexander McQueen’s skull bangle, I think the sapphire adds an interesting element. Others include my Alexander McQueen x Swarovski crystal bracelet; Hermes matte black gator CDC, Chanel Dmitri brooch from the 09 Paris-Moscow collection (made in memory of the love affair between Coco and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia) and a Chrome Hearts bracelet.
I love your Hermes collection – you have some truly spectacular pieces! What was the first piece you ever bought, and what is your workhorse?
My first piece of Hermes was the Interchangeable Looping bracelet in orange and black. I still get a lot of use out of them so money well spent! My workhorse are my black Birkin and my gold 40cm Massai Cut; former is for office and meeting days and the latter for when I’m on the go.
How about your favorite Hermes item?
My favorite item, no one believes me when I say this but I truly do love my Massai Cut the most. Of course, I indulge like everyone else but for the most part, I need practicality with my bags. The Massai Cut is both functional and stylish. It’s toile interior is easy to care for and the additional messenger length strap is just the icing on the cake. Next in line is my little 30 tri-Color Birkin because it’s one of a kind and I waited a very long time for it. Third place goes to Tigre Royale Silk City because I am obsessed with that print.
What about your overall favorite items in your wardrobe for clothing (I suspect you have an amazing closet!)
My closet is actually quite boring. I have a lot of grey, black and white. Some of my favorites are classic stables like Burberry trenches & Loro Piana cashmere pieces. I love my Lanvin cashmere coat, Robert Geller (brilliant menswear designer) chunky knit & Tibetan jacket, Isaac Sellam three-way deerskin jacket and a beautiful embroidered Doo.Ri coat from her FW 2005 collection that I searched high and low for; I ended up finding it at Off 5th for 25% of the original retail price. Score!
What’s your typical day to day outfit look like? What are some of your favorite high end and more affordable brands?
For days with meetings and client interactions, I play it safe by going with black suits or dresses; for studio days, I keep it casual and comfortable – jumpers, jeans, jackets and flats.
My favorite high-end labels are Burberry, Givenchy, Yigal Azrouel, & Brunello Cucinelli, Those labels offer chic & classic styles that are easy to work with, as well as solid quality that will last you a lifetime. I also like avant-garde labels like Ann Demeulemeester, Isaac Sellam & Rick Owens. I am currently looking to add some Mary Katrantzou pieces. Her prints are amazing.
For affordable brands I like Club Monaco for their monotone aesthetic, J.Crew for easy-to-wear office-to-casual pieces; and my ultimate guilty pleasure – Gap jeans. They fit well, holds their shape, last through many washes and the best part – are never more than $70 retail and they go on sale all the time. I do shop at Zara from time to time; they offer great trendy pieces that I can experiment with before I pull the trigger for something more expensive. If the style doesn’t work, it won’t sting much because their prices are very fair.
I love your shoe collection, you have some killer killer pairs! Which do you wear the most? How about your favorite “works of art” in your closet?
Thank you very much, that means a lot coming from someone with a beautiful collection. The footwear section of my closet is much more fun than the clothing section. Some friends say my shoes and clothes look like they belong to two different girls. I love the look of sexy high heels but being almost 5’10 I feel like a giant in those so most of the time I am in flats. I adore embellished Miu Miu flats. I think since 2005 I’ve probably hogged every embellished pair there is. Chanel and Valentino are also two of my favorite footwear labels.
Aside from flats, my shoes that gets the most wear are the black patent/beige Valentino Rockstud kitten heel, Celine’s heavy chain sandals, and two pairs of Chanel booties. You can also find me in Lanvin or Pierre Hardy sneakers. And of course, like lot of girls, sometimes I can’t resist the magic of the red sole, but to be very honest, they all hurt pretty bad.
What are some brands you believe are underrated? What about overrated ones?
I feel brands like Brunello Cucinelli & Yigal Azrouel doesn’t get the recognition they deserve. Both houses offer beautiful simple silhouettes and quality is top-notch.
This has been mentioned before; I too, feel Balmain is rather overrated. The quality is solid but the designs are hardly anything innovative. It is very expensive rock ‘n roll gear that have been done and can be done for 10 times less by many other designers.
What’s a piece of advice about style/shopping/budgeting that you’ve learned over the years that you would now share with readers?
Whether you can or cannot afford something, you’ll know it the second you look at the price tag. If you’re not sure, it’s best to let it go. At the end of the day, they’re just things, it’s not worth bringing yourself financial stress over. Also, do invest in quality footwear (doesn’t mean it has to be designer/expensive, just something that is well made with solid materials). A $300 Prada t-shirt isn’t going to look or feel much different than a $25 one from J.Crew; but cheap shoes will look and feel just that.
I love that you give general advice on your blog so have to ask – what piece of life advice would you share?
Make the most of your life and be the changes you want to see in the world.
What are your other hobbies and passions?
In addition to traveling, I love art history, photography, sports and movie marathons. I would say I spend the same amount of time with sports as I do with Hermes!
Finally, please share something surprising about yourself!
I’m a big gadget and video game junkie. The first thing I installed when I moved into a new office space was my Xbox. It’s a great way to de-stress and helps when I have creative blocks. Combined with sports, my mother often joke that I suffer from slight gender confusion.
I loved learning about JJ’s Xbox addiction! I used to be quite the fan of Halo myself and was even gifted the soundtrack at one point – although to be honest, I was never very good at the game. And how cool is it that she started her own business? I adore hearing about female business owners and their success stories, it just makes me happy and inspired.
Thank you again JJ for sharing some of your lovely insights and closet photos with us! For more of JJ, please check out her blog, here.