Jess BrownFounder & Designer of Jess Brown DesignsPETALUMA,CAPhotography by Lauri LevenfeldStory by Lauri Levenfeld
When Bottega Venetta calls, you answer. This is exactly what Jess Brown did when her dream designer called and asked her to create life-size rag dolls for his window during NYFW. Jess, a designer from the small town of Petaluma hit it big when she started creating handmade toys for her children and out of her desire and hope to create meaningful keepsakes for her little ones spun an international business and success story. We have been in love with her dolls since we first laid eyes on them at The Podolls store and now we have our own original TMP Gypsy Doll Giveaway and DIY tips to be shared on making your own doll on Style Me Pretty Living.
I am a mom. I love to create useful objects out of fabric. I was a teacher for eleven years.
My company is jess brown design, llc. I design and create products to live with. Rag dolls, women’s clothes and pieces for home. I love creating products that will be loved, used and worn in everyday life.
Inspiration for me comes from different places. Flea marketing is a big one for me…
I love finding discarded fabric and putting it back to use in everyday modern life. Also I love the beach- it’s quiet, open, and full of texture. My kids are a huge inspiration for me, they always have been the first thought in anything I create and I design as though I am making each item for them.
I have always been inspired by beautiful textiles. I began making dolls for my kids 15 years ago using old cashmere sweaters and antique remnants. As committed flea market-goers, our family would search together for amazing antique pieces, trims, buttons and findings. Our efforts came together, as well, for a small line of one-of-a-kind and handmade rag dolls.
For jess brown designs, each doll is now hand-dyed in Persian black teas to create variations in skin tones. Each doll is stuffed with a sustainable corn fiber stuffing and they are all made of cotton muslin and linen, and of primarily recycled and antique fabrics and findings. Now with a team of six, we create 250+ dolls a month. They are all handcrafted with love.
I have been fortunate to collaborate with several of my favorite designers, using scrap remnants left over from their current season cutting. This type of play has also led me to designing my own women’s line, a line that takes its style lead from the simple garments created for my dolls
“EVERYTHING I DESIGN IS MEANT TO BE USED AND LOVED, TO FALL APART AND BE RE-SEWN.”
My style tends I think to be somewhere between classic and bohemian. I love the lines of traditional Japanese and Indian clothes with modern fabrics. I also live in jeans and super casual tunics and boxy button downs and sweaters. Sandals and flip flops go with everything!
My icons are anywhere from Frida Kahlo to Katherine Hepburn. Both are inspiring and amazing women in so many ways.
What I can say for sure though, is what the kids bring to me- they are a constant reflection of my steps and missteps. They are honest in their actions and emotions. My children do keep me humble. And at the end of the day, everything I do leads back to them.
My kids: Stella-age 15, Tiger-age 12
Stella’s favorite things:
1. Her guitar
2. Her sketch books
3. Ryan Roche silk jumpsuit
5. It book by Alexa Chung
Tiger’s favorite things:
1. His motorbike
2. His Element skateboard
4. Calvin and Hobbes books
5. His dad!
The decor in Stella’s room… Kerry Cassill bedding, framed Nara prints on the walls, Crosley record player, woven grass and metallic rug from Calypso St. Barth and a Moroccan pouf and a desk made by her dad.
The decor of Tiger’s room…Three level loft room with a real tree propped inside. Bottom level is his bed and shelving for his Nano blocks and a desk made by his dad. The next level- is another desk made by his dad for doing claymation. Third level is grey bean bag chairs from Pottery Barn kids and shelves for all of his Lego sculptures.
The kids are super creative and personal with their room decor as well. Their rooms display all of their creations and current works in progress. I love that I can witness their artistic journeys when they open the door.
It is amazing to see a mom as dedicated as Jess to making things for her family to love with her own two hands. I was so moved watching Jess create the beautiful Gypsy doll she gifted to TMP for our give-away and I am excited for all of you to possibly win. Make sure to enter here. And for more Jess, check out her incredible shares and DIY tips for her new book The Making of a Ragdoll on Style Me Pretty Living.