By Maryjo Cartier
LONDON–Jessica Russell Flint is a fun and quirky brand of pouches, pillows, prints, wallpaper and tea towels. It is Jessica’s own illustration’s that bring the punch to her designs: pink flamingos, prowling leopards and bright orange lobsters. All the designs are hand drawn in quill and ink pen. Inspiration comes in all shapes and forms, but Jessica finds she is at her most creative on public transport. “Journeys are great for the thought process as there’s very little else for you to do,” said Jessica.
The Jessica Russell Flint journey began with a collection of limited edition illustrations showcased at a gallery in the hip Clerkenwell area of London, where she launched a makeup bag range featuring her hand-drawn images. Since then Jessica has amassed many successes, from showing at Somerset House during London Fashion Week to The Conran Shop reaching out to sell her Lobster Napkins and being featured in Elle Décor’s “Ones to Watch” .
On her pathway to becoming an illustrator and designer, Jessica did not take any shortcuts. Before becoming a successful business owner, Jessica amassed an impressive amount of experience and skills from a university degree in Geography, a graduate programme at an advertising agency and a part-time course at Central Saint Martins, all while blogging her illustrations in her free time. Reflecting on her pathway, Jessica muses: “It was a longer journey, but one I am now ultimately very proud of, and one that I think has been really helpful for setting up the business and the brand.”
Jessica is a perfect example of Roman Krznaric’s belief in doing what you love in your free time till it grows so big that it becomes your full-time job. “I worked until I literally couldn’t fit anymore in and was about to let balls drop,” said Jessica. In fact she was already stocked in over 30 stores before working on her own brand full time. So Jessica’s pathway is an interesting example for the many aspiring entrepreneurs wanting a life/work change fuelled by their passion.
Jessica takes a down to earth approach to business and life. Her brand’s motto is “See beyond the end of your nose.” This is a reminder to “see the quirky and cool in everything, to enjoy life, colour and people the most we possibly can and always remember to see the bigger picture.” Jessica doesn’t let minor problems throw her off and her brand is representative of her positivity but also her practical approach to achieving her goals.
What is your ultimate dream?
A house of Jessica Russell Flint! But it’s a BIG dream – once a product takes off, you end up investing it all back into that product to expand the range and meet demand so it’s all about siphoning off funds to develop new ideas. I think it’s important to do that or you end up getting stuck in a rut. I never want to be like that.
You do bespoke orders. What is the process of bespoke? Can you share any special bespoke projects that have really inspired you?
Yes – I do, I collaborate and also do bespoke commissions for certain people when they want them. I’m currently ensconced in about a million friends’ wedding invitations (the pitfall of being a friend who illustrates!) but on a more professional level, I did the Harrods Christmas baubles for their “Retro Champagne” themed Christmas, which was all flamingos and pineapples and all things pink. That was a fun project. A bit of a nightmare in terms of sourcing the suppliers – but a big kudos for me to have been asked.
You launched a Japanese website! Can you tell me a bit about this – why a Japanese website? Do you have a strong Japanese following?
Ha Ha – I know – it’s crazy! Last year I met my Japanese business partner, who lives in Tokyo. She was on a Tinder date with one of my photographers when she was over in London for the weekend. He showed her some of his photography and some of it happened to be shots he’d been taking for me.
She works as an agent and distributor for brands in Japan and asked to meet me the next day. It didn’t work out for her and my photographer, but it worked out for us! And yes, we’re getting a good following over there.
I LOVE the Japanese. They have an amazing sense of style, LOVE colour and are hilariously funny. It’s a good fit and I’m really excited about going over there next month for a visit. We are thinking of opening our cafe and show room in Tokyo, so looking at some venues.
Contact info: www,jessicarussellflint.co.uk & firstname.lastname@example.org