How would you describe your brand, Jessica Russell Flint?
JRF is a fashion and lifestyle brand with an emphasis on hand drawn print, colour and quality. I always wanted the brand to capture and convey a sense of joy and freedom that would make people happy and feel positive!
We’ve expanded our ranges slowly to include everything from limited edition art prints, velvet cushions, vegan cosmetic bags to beautiful hand printed silk dresses and last season we launched our sleep collections. Everything is made from brilliant materials and we strive to make sure our cuts are flattering for women of varying shapes, sizes and ages.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you came up with the idea for your company?
Honestly it was super organic. Back when I ended school, I was about to go to London College of Fashion and at the last minute changed my mind and decided to go traditional, I ended up studying Geography at Exeter University as I always knew I’d go back to something artistic as my whole family and background is art, art, art. But I wanted something to fall back on. After graduating I went into advertising but more on the business side. I did this for six years and always ended up doodling on notepads through meetings or hankering to do the pitch boards rather than selling ideas to clients!
After a while I did some official illustration training at Central St.Martins & friends/people started asking to pay for prints of my work. I ended up doing an exhibition at the Clerkenwell Gallery that went really well and here it was the Conran shop who spotted a lobster print & wanted it on some napkins and then Harrods asked me to design Christmas decorations… slowly from here it’s grown.
What route did you take to launch your brand?
I started with the old cliche – drawing/working/designing from my kitchen table with my dog Betty Beagle for company at our first one bed flat in Dalston. I freelanced on the side to fund myself and the business for around two years and my boyfriend (now husband) would get enraged by the stock stored in every available spot in our tiny flat – under our bed, the sofa, every shelf.. slowly the business grew and I moved from the flat to a shared studio in a very cheap but almost pitch black, freezing cold basement with no natural light to gradually upgrading to a studio with light… to employing my first member of staff.. then a bigger studio.. to the more staff and then the move to where we are now.
Your designs are bold and colourful, would you say they reflect your own personal style as well?
Yes, and no! In an interior design sense, I love a blank canvas and then lots of kooky prints, finishes, door handles and bright pops. On a fashion level, it’s a similar story. I like plain paired with bold. A bright scarf with a classic coat, or an amazing slip skirt with a big plain knit.
What was the first piece you created?
A lobster napkin..
What is your favourite item in your range right now?
The belted maxi dress. It’s new and I love the shape. It don’t do the pattern cutting (It’s a skill I’m in awe of) but I just love the flow and the way this nips you in at the waist and flatters many shapes and sizes.
Your collection is available online and from shops around the UK and abroad, including Harrods. Where do you like to shop in west London?
I have two young children and a dog, so it’s so rare that I’m able to get out anymore. Most of my shopping is done online but I still love a good snoop around Portobello and Westbourne Grove. I also grew up heading up to town to go to the Kings Road with my mum, so although this is super old fashioned, there’s something nostalgic about wandering down this road and looking at all that is new and all that remains unchanged.
You have a lot of lockdown friendly items in your range, including face masks and home accessories. Do you think vibrant brands like yours add a bit of positivity in these uncertain times?
I hope so! We were doing face masks so we could contribute something to aid issues created by the pandemic. It’s always been such a struggle to keep cash flow moving and we were in a position finally to be able to give back. So, 100% of the proceeds are going to domestic abuse charity Refuge who provided, and continue to provide, so much comfort and support to those stuck at home with abusive partners/parents during the height of the pandemic.
Which designers inspire you?
I love Paul Smith for his classic quirk, Victoria Beckham for their cuts & elegance & of course Vivien Westwood for eclecticism.
Can you describe your perfect weekend?
A whole weekend alone?! In a dream world (this is far from reality..) Probably, Friday evening cocktails with my best friends.. Saturday (a lie in?), a long autumnal walk and pub lunch with my family. & close friends. A chilled out supper at home with my husband & a good movie. Sunday, ideally a day to get the paints out and have some time alone creating! (but this will never happen – hence the perfect weekend vibes), followed by a late Sunday lunch.
What’s your favourite thing to do to unwind?
Walk my dog, Betty the beagle, or draw with felt tips..
If you hadn’t become a designer, what might you have done instead?
Started a casting agency – or become a producer, I’ve always loved this element of the creative process.
What’s next for Jessica Russell Flint?
We are launching our sustainable and eco collections in SS21. This should’ve launched this year but due to COVID we were stalled. In some ways it’s been good to press pause/slow motion and review what’s really important to the brand. We were always in such a rush to get to the next goal, its been interesting to analyse where we are and what we want.
Find out more and explore the range at www.jessicarussellflint.co.uk