As the 25-year-old founder and CEO of three sustainable businesses (in addition to being a photographer, brand builder and designer), Jessie Andrews embodies the ideal of the self-made woman. Her path to entrepreneurship was unconventional to say the least; within a year of moving to Los Angeles after dropping out of high school three months shy of graduation, Andrews began transitioning from in-demand adult actress to full-on It Girl status and all that title confers. If DJing parties around the world, modeling for American Apparel and being profiled in magazines are par for the glam girl course, Andrews quickly branched out into other creative endeavors, devoting her time to designing fine jewelry that quickly became a celebrity favorite.
Andrews took her success a step further and used her platform to not just advocate for a cause, but to make it a vital part of her business and brand. Andrew's jewelry line, Bagatiba, minimalist swimwear line and Parisian-inspired ready-to-wear essentials brand, Jeu Illimité, all use eco-friendly and sustainable practices in their production and distribution. She oversees all three lines out of her downtown Los Angeles headquarters, 1201 B Studios, which also doubles as a space for creatives of all kind to partner together on new projects. We caught up with Andrews about what she's working on, sustainability as a practice and the challenges of running your own business(es):
You've already worn many hats in your career. What projects are you working on right now?
Currently I'm sketching and sampling prints for Basic Swim and working on some dainty oversized hoops for Bagatiba. I just finished my first shoes and backpack for Jeu Illimité, and now I'll start putting together mood boards for the new year.
In between that, I have two new projects. I'm working on an athletic platform with my best friend Michele. We want to give our insight to women of all body types, so having a place to share our experiences and passions is something we've really been excited about.
My last project I've been working on for years. It's a suncare line reinventing the way sunscreen is formulated and applied. Looking forward to a summer launch, but I want it to be perfect before I say anymore!
How do you incorporate sustainability into your work, and why is it important to you?
I'm lucky that I'm direct to consumer, because I can offer good quality, small quantity, affordable luxury essentials that are fashionably sustainable.
Lately I've been designing in a method I call "multi-wear," which means one product can be used in at least two different ways. Less is more, literally. Some examples are Bagatiba's Rita hoops, which can be worn as a statement piece or with the disk taken off to be a single oval hoop. The Jeu Illimite Anna Corset Dress can also be reversed and tightened for six different looks. Anyone can copy a design or use a new fabric, but to actually innovate is a challenge I love.
Each brand has it's own concept of sustainability. 50% of Bagatiba is made with stainless steel, which is eco-friendly and also recycled. A lot of jewelry brands offer the same pieces, but the materials and ethics are what set my line apart, though I would never throw that in a consumer's face. I have it lightly labeled "eco" on the navigation bar. To me, there's no competition with other brands that aren't sustainable, and if they are sustainable I'm rooting for them. Jeu is made from all dead-stock fabric, multi-wear essentials. Basic Swim is simple: it's the same three styles in different colors, mix-and-matchable.
Most importantly, I think mass production is toxic.
What trends in fashion and jewelry are you seeing right now that you're excited about?
Women in menswear, particularly oversized pieces. I've always loved baggy pants and dad hats, so I'm happy to see girls like Kendall and Kaia in them. Jewelry wise, I love the oversized hoop trend that's happening as well.
You're the founder of three companies (so far!) What're the biggest challenges of being a small business owner?
Creating new trends and capitalizing on them before a big company with PR does. Producing in small quantities but keeping pieces affordable. Keeping designs simple and functional, but different. Minimizing overhead and delegation.
What do you like about it?
I love overseeing every part of the process and having the responsibility of success or failure. My goal is to disrupt the normal business model and create a hybrid of mass and small.
What can we hope to see from you in the future?
I'm going to launch the two new brands, and I'd like 1201 B Studios to become a space for like-minded artists and creatives in Los Angeles to think out loud. It's where I now help creative direct and brand-build for clients. I'd also like to educate a younger demographic about sustainability and teach them that our luxuries shouldn't be a strain on our environment. Possibly open a retail store with a collection of all my brands. And most of all, stay happy and healthy.
Jessie also modeled some of her own collections in a shoot for PAPER with Pia Riverola: