A few weeks ago I ventured to Manhattan with my roommate KL (yes, going from Brooklyn to Manhattan is considered venturing). I had the pleasure of meeting her good friend from college, Elise. After being seated at our table at the cutest little restaurant in the West Village we started talking about her company Francesca Joy. I was so impressed and inspired with how she started her own business, the collaborations she’s done, and her amazing designs (she hand paints all of her totes and they look perfect…I can barely sign my own name some days).
Well, Elise was kind enough to answer some questions about her company and the journey of building her own brand. Oh, and we also may or may not have a giveaway that will have you dreaming of spring, traveling the world, and maybe a little bit of sailing, too!
Q: What motivated you to start your own business? Were you always interested in art, fashion, and design?
A: Francesca Joy as a business started accidentally. I was working as an artist, selling work, doing gallery shows and trying to network everywhere from Miami, to London, to Chelsea, NY. When I saw the response from my audience, it was a fashion response. Like, how can you put these paintings on something for us to buy? It’s amazing to see how a single idea grows into a brand, and an identity, which is now the business. I was always interested in fashion, but I knew if I was going to make my mark in the industry, I would have to develop my own concepts and ideas, linking my canvases to fashion. This would inevitably present something new. Coming up with a new way of seeing pattern, print, and design in specified, niche markets.
Q: What are some of the struggles you’ve encountered starting your own business and how have you overcome them?
A: For me, there were no handouts: I’ve had to work for everything, and when you don’t have money starting something, you rely on your drive and your ambition. Jimmy Paige said, “I may not believe in myself, but I believe in what I am doing.” I think that sums up a lot of the ups and downs you encounter in being self-employed and starting something. When you have no other option but to succeed, you will be surprised at how far you can come and what you can accomplish.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration for your products and company? How do you stay inspired and what do you do to keep evolving as an artist and designer?
A: We started in Palm Beach, where I was hand-painting tote bags – and that remains an ongoing theme in the color scheme and the overall vibe. The nature, the luxury, the style – that keeps a consistent timeless approach which is important today when you are styling. We’ve sort of “done it all” in our generation with fashion, so where we discover new territory is through our personal understanding of old trends and the faces of the past.
I find inspiration through America, the colors, and pop-culture history. Music is a HUGE theme for me. Sophistication is rock and roll to me. Colors should speak to you, and express something. Whimsy and youth is lively. I don’t like safe – risk is wonderful, and that’s how I keep evolving. What I sense, and what I feel is ultimately passion that is passed on to your customers and fans. Decades like the 60s and 70s are big for me. Peter Max is explosive in his themes, colors, and tales of a time… Interior design, architecture, sites like 1stdibs.com and stores like JUST ONE EYE are killing it. So amazing, so inspiring.
Q: What is the most exciting collaboration you’ve worked on?
A: I always wanted to design the ultimate resort shoe. Back in 2012, I was able to fulfill this with the help of sandal maker, Stephen Bonanno of West Palm Beach. He was the original creator of the famed Jack Roger. I’d worn those my whole life. I remember my Mum saving my first pair – I think they were purple. So this was exciting for me. At the time, I was printing my own textiles in San Francisco, and having them shipped over to my factory in Fall River, MA. I was keeping everything in the US. Very important. So, we took my hemp-silk blend textiles, and blended them into the sandal for a fresh look at the staple sandal. I was so proud of them because they came out EXACTLY as I had envisioned. It also announced to my fans and followers that this is Francesca Joy. It’s fun and whimsy, but it’s also extremely detailed and ancient in feel and vibe, with a strong sense of history.
The other exciting, more recent collaboration, is the Sorority collection with FASHION GREEK. It’s amazing to see the prints on college campuses and to take our signature look into Greek life.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start their own business?
If you have a gut instinct in you to start something, follow that instinct. Do not ignore it. Don’t listen to everyone who follows the crowd. Good for them – that’s not you. When you start to part from the crowd, and develop your own visions, that is when you know you were supposed to lead and create. There’s no sense in starting your own business if it doesn’t give back in some way – if it doesn’t inspire others to create, think, and progress. So, giving back is my big advice. Spread knowledge and passion. You will help your world in a big way.
We love Elise’s passion and are so grateful to her for sharing more about her company and inspirations! We are also excited to announce our giveaway. We have the cutest tote that will make you want to hop on a plane for a spring getaway in Paris…AND (because what do The JCR Girls love more than anything nautical?!) a cuff from Francesca Joy’s collection for York Design Company. Use the Rafflecopter widgets below to enter!
A Rafflecopter giveaway
A Rafflecopter giveaway