Following up from Can We Afford to be Creative in London? BRICKS contributor Lauren Morgan heads to Wales to meet designer Jessy Good to explore the opposite side of the spectrum.
I've never worked in London, nor do I intend to (little fish big pond!) I imagine it to be a big place to contend with, after all when it comes to British fashion - London is a very big player. You hear stories of interns working and taking every hour under the sun for very little pay in order to then lose that hard earned cash in an attempt to pay bills which are largely rather expensive. You have to be different, find a gap in the market and hope someone notices. It's dog eat dog and the struggle for an emerging creative can indeed become very difficult. You either follow suit with what's already out there in hopes of jumping on a bandwagon or ignore all of that and do your own thing, which much of the time can be quite the risk. Investing money into an idea or project that may not sell or become a 'thing' can be quite a daunting prospect for some which is why when someone does take that leap into the unknown - it is indeed very exciting.
How confident were you, when you started designing that you could compete in such a driven area?
I suppose it's more ignorance than confidence. Of course I could make a living doing what I loved, how hard could it be?! I think they fail to teach you at university how truly difficult it is, and for a long time how bloody poor you will be! I wasn't the best designer on my course, I wasn't the strongest illustrator and I certainly wasn't a brilliant pattern cutter. I was however extremely determined to prove to everyone my degree wasn't futile. And I really loved clothes and fashion and identity. And that is what drove me.
What prompted you to leave London?
London was for so long my fairytale. I remember going with my Grandma and my mum when I was young and thinking, this is where I want to live. I had so many great times there and met some of the most wonderful humans! I just got to a point where I felt like I was no longer going forward, and it's so frustrating at the enormity of the cost of life there. It is wonderful, it is not worth 1 million pounds for a 2 bed terraced house. I started to think, why am I here, do I need to be here?
What makes your range different?
It won't be mass produced, it will be made here in Wales, by Welsh people, and by me. To start with it'll be a very small group of people producing it, but hopefully I'll grow with time. It's important to me to remain in Wales though. Create opportunities outside of London. Bring back production to the UK. It will have an identity that will run throughout the range and hopefully it will have a girl gang that keep coming back! It won't be trend led, trends make fashion so disposable and I think it's important to make clothes to last.
"My aim is to make people realise you can do anything, no matter where you are."
On moving back to Cardiff...
It was a big decision for me, it wasn't a quick decision, and it was with a heavy heart. After being back for a couple of months now I know it was the right thing to do. When people ask me, the only way I can describe it is, it's like I was walking around London with my head down and my shoulders tensed and now I feel like my shoulders have relaxed!
I commend Jessy with what she's doing, she's jacked it all in for a chance to do her own thing. She's setting such a positive example to anyone wanting to be unique and not follow a crowd, it's sheer determination and not caring what other people think, it's what we need more of in such a trend led world. People stepping aside and showing their creativity.
Having an interchangeable wardrobe that will last through seasons and essentially become timeless is a great selling point - we all want fashion that lasts! The range isn't massively on trend but still within the realms of realness for what the fashion area calls upon. Her idea of bringing back production to the UK is a stand out focal point for me, handmade items that are built to last in
Wales and job growth that many can benefit from, not just the creator. She's trying to make a go of it out of London and prove that fashion can indeed exist out of its main "epicentre."