When did you know you wanted to become a designer?
I’ve loved drawing since I was a little kid. Having a piece of paper and pencil to draw could make me happy all day.
Later, I realized that drawing, designing, and creating arts are my passion and I decided to pursue my work as an artist. After graduating with a Master of Fine Arts, I decided to become a designer, and a few years later, I created the Jessie Zhao brand. I continue to draw and create art based on the beauty surrounding us, just like when I was young.
What is your earliest design memory for your brand?
Jessie Zhao was launched in 2018 right here in New York City. I’ve always been drawn to nature which is the inspiration behind many of the prints in my collection. We aspire to connect the worlds of fine art, fashion, and nature and that’s what you’ll see in our scarves, leggings, and dresses. Every print is hand-painted in our New York design studio and is imbued with personal meaning and storytelling. Each design is rich in color, print, and personality.
Over the past few years, we have been looking for the best ways to connect fine art and fashion because we believe the fusion of those two mediums inspires extraordinary beauty. We use our passion for nature to create illustrations that combine the visual interest of all kinds of lines and shapes with an appreciation for decorative design. Therefore you’ll find our pieces in places like the Smithsonian Museum. At our core, we are a true celebration of art.
“I hope my art can inspire people to enjoy life and appreciate the beauty of nature and live in color.”
Where do you find inspiration?
My collection is inspired by nature. I believe nature is the source of all living things. Nature brings so many amazing colors, shapes, and experiences to us and gives me so many inspirations for my collections. I would love to tell everyone that we should respect nature and respect this life we are gifted with.
What is your favorite part about designing?
My favorite part about designing is bringing the beauty of nature and animals using color, shape, and curves in my original prints. I hope my art can inspire people to enjoy life and appreciate the beauty of nature and live in color.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is colorful, storytelling, and delivering happiness to people.
What is your favorite fashion film or show?
My favorite fashion show is Alexander McQueen, spring/summer 2010.
What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?
I was a design consultant working on many creative projects for many retailers and fashion magazines, such as Macy's.
What sets your brand apart from the rest?
Jessie Zhao is originally hand drawn, limited editions. We combine fashion and arts.
What do you envision for the future of your brand?
A brand that is well known for its floral patterns.
Do you have a favorite piece that you have designed?
My favorite piece in the collection is “Silk Scarf of Underwater World”. This design is inspired by nature and really puts you in the mood for summer and getting back to life that feels a little bit more normal. The illustration feels fresh and freeing, and we hope it will inspire people to want to get out and explore.
“Scarves and accessories are wearable art. Through my designs, I hope I can bring more positive aspects to people’s lives.”
What were some hurdles you had to overcome in your business?
The two hurdles we had to overcome was finding the balance between art and commerce as well as understanding the market segment and customer persona.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new designer?
Besides design skills, a new designer needs to understand the market - who is your target customer segment and why they choose your work over your competitors.
How important is social media to your brand?
Social media is an important way to communicate. With social media, people can see your designs instantly. Social media is an efficient way to interact with the followers and provide customer service.
What made you want to design scarves and accessories?
As a fashion designer, I believe the silk fabric can deliver the best effect of the artwork. Scarves and accessories are wearable art. Through my design, I hope I can bring more positive aspects to people’s lives.
What is the most important thing you would like your brand to be recognized for?
Delivering strength, encouragement, and happiness.
How would you define fashion?
Fashion is a voice, a language, an attitude, a self-expression.