Sassafras: Jessalin, your work includes both fabric and fashion items and paintings. How did you come upon the combination of techniques? Jessalin: Before I offered clothing, painting and drawing were my focus. I started painting on clothing as a way to break away from my works in progress and offer something more affordable in the shop. Painting on clothing has grown to include textile design and digital printing on fabric. I currently use blanks from American Apparel for my tees and dresses, and the textile printing opens up a whole new world of what is possible.
Sassafras: Are you a Pacific Northwest native?
Jessalin: Yes, I grew up about an hour north of Seattle in a few small farm and dairy towns (Arlington and Camano Island). That experience has played a huge role in who I am and the kind of work I make. My mom raised horses for the better part of my upbringing, which also played a huge part. You get a real connection to the outdoors and the creatures around you. There is also much more space and quiet, which lends itself to contemplation.
Sassafras: Your work can be found internationally! How did you come across these connections outside of the region?
Jessalin: Having my work on Etsy has really helped to expand my reach and make international connections.
Sassafras: What has been the biggest challenge or reward with selling internationally?
Jessalin: I am always thrilled when I get interest from an international shop or individual buyers, especially outside of English-speaking countries. It feels good to transcend borders and physical distance with art! Shipping is always a challenge because it is much more expensive and tracking can sometimes be spotty. I always ma thankful when I receive photos from my customers or see blog posts of them enjoying their pieces. It's rare anyway to spot someone on the street wearing something I've made, even in Seattle, but makes the whole experience much more complete when I see those pieces out in the world.
Sassafras: Are you working solo, or do you have a team of designers working with you?
Jessalin: For the most p art, I work solo. My partner Jonas is a pattern maker and clothing designer with a small sewing shop. He has always helped me talk through some business decisions and always has an opinion about my design aesthetic, but we are starting to work together more on creating some original silhouettes to use with my textiles - which I am SO excited about!
Sassafras: How do you want people to feel when they wear an item from your collection?
Jessalin: I want my designs to inspire confidence and originality in people. This year, I've decided to only make 10 pieces per style so that I can focus on creating new designs, and people feel like what they're wearing is unique and not possible for everyone to have. I've made a bit of a departure in my styles this year as well, but I still feel as though they are bold and expressive. It is okay to stand out. It's great!