In our studio we speak frequently of the beauty of figuring life out as you go: there is no magic secret other than showing up every day…for yourself, your passions, your career, your family, your community.
As Co-Founder and Creative Director of shoe + accessories line Loeffler Randall, Jessie Randall is no stranger to the dance we do when trying to do a lot. She founded her line in 2004 with her husband Brian, a collection inspired by her grandmother’s understated elegance, a study in timeless femininity. Fifteen years later, LR has evolved an internationally distributed brand, sold at over 250 retailers around the world, built by Jessie and Brian the good old way: through a lot of hard work, a dogged dedication to building a business with longevity in mind, and remaining creatively inspired through ups and downs.
The mother of twin middle schoolers, Jessie is an honest narrator of the challenges that come from the quest for balance, or admittance of the lack thereof. For Jessie, there is no “line”: home, career, family, personal life are all intertwined, which depending on the day can feel like utter chaos or the most beautiful gift of her choosing. It’s the byproduct of a self-constructed life, where everything connects in its own perfectly imperfect way. We visited her at home in Brooklyn for a conversation on new rituals, embracing positivity (even when its cheesy), and taking yourself out of your bubble.
I grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts in the 70’s and 80’s. My mom is Scandinavian and raised us in a way that I think inspired a lot of creativity – not many toys, wooden blocks, art supplies, letting us get bored often so we had to find ways to amuse ourselves. I grew up watching my parents and my grandparents be creative and make things with their hands. My mom is an amazing knitter, my father makes furniture, my grandmother was a wonderful cook and my grandfather had a little wooden toy company that he made just to make his grandkids toys. My mom’s mom once wrote me an entire chapter book in long hand when I turned five telling me all about what her life was like when she was five! So I feel very lucky to have been brought up surrounded by creativity and craft. It had an enormous influence on me.
My mother has an elegant, chic aesthetic and her color sense was very influential to my own taste but she was not interested in fashion. Her dressing me in my brother’s hand-me-downs and not letting me have Barbies (my mom was holding feminist consciousness raising meetings in our kitchen growing up) had sort of the opposite of her intended effect: I became obsessed with fashion. Luckily my dad’s mother, my grandmother Harriet, loved all the things my mother didn’t – things like "Days of Our Lives" and ball gowns and bright red lipstick. She let me try on all her dresses and she gave me her tiny size 5 heels to wear around. She exposed me to things that brought me so much joy. For as long as I can remember, I have been totally obsessed with clothes, fashion, and especially shoes.
Often we discuss that the narrative around “balance” needs to be rewritten when you don’t necessarily want to have these two different work/home “identities.” How does this manifest for you?
Because I am married to my business partner, Brian, and because the aesthetic of my brand is so closely tied to my own, there really is no separation between my work and personal lives. It’s not necessarily a set-up I would recommend to others as ideal, but for me it’s really the only thing I’ve known and it works. Tricks for “balancing” it all are that my husband and I made a pact years ago not to talk about work when we aren’t at the office. And we (mostly) stick to that. I try to put my phone away before I walk into the house so that time at night with my kids is focused completely on them. I have an enormous amount of “mom guilt” as a working mom. Several years ago I was fed up one day and said “That’s it, I’m done!” and my twins actually started crying, telling me that they were so proud of our company and proud of me for my job. That was such wonderful feedback to hear. I had always assumed that I was probably messing them up...maybe someday they can take over the family business.
I want to spend my life exploring and expressing my creativity. I am so incredibly lucky that I get to do that for my job. And I want to explore my creativity beyond my work as well by learning crafts, making things, and writing. Everything I do is to support my children. They are everything to me and the reason I work so hard.
I’ve been devasted by the hatred and division in our country over the past few years. These upsetting times are a reminder that so much work still needs to be done. And to me they are reminder to focus on kindness. That saying “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” really resonates with me. So many of us have things in our life, that while perhaps private, may be very challenging. I want to teach my children to treat others with compassion and kindness always.
What is your take on personal ritual?
Rituals are important...but I'm terrible at keeping them! I am impatient and don’t stick to routines very well. One ritual I have is taking a very hot bath every single night and it relaxes me so much. It’s the one moment of my day when I am alone and can decompress (of course, until my kids come barging in and sit on the edge of the tub, but I love that part too). I’m trying to be better about a fitness regimen and this always seems to be the first thing that falls off my list. But I am a much happier person when I am getting physical activity in and taking care of myself well. I love to sleep! I need a ton of sleep so I make sure to get a lot of it and it is restorative for me. I read every night and enjoy it so much.
Tell us about a moment, a piece of guidance, a reckoning of personal wisdom, that you carry with you.
I’m a sucker for things like Abraham Hicks — I like to read all the quotes. I do believe in the power of positive thought. I can get into a groove of positivity and hopeful anticipation and when I do, good things do seem to come.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your path temporarily, what do you do?
My friend Ami, who is like a spiritual guru to me always reminds me to repeat: “All is well and I am safe.” I find myself repeating those words in those scary moments walking alone down a dark street at night or when something happens and I feel overwhelmed. Working in my industry, raising kids, and especially having kids in middle school – can all be stressful situations. I try to breathe and calm myself down. I’m a problem solver and very practical. So I feel like that kicks in in those moments, thinking what can I do in this moment to make things better.
How do you spend the first 20 minutes of your day?
My favorite part of the day is snuggling my kids early in the morning. I love being affectionate with them and telling them how much they mean to me. To me being affectionate, giving them hugs and snuggles, making sure they know how much I absolutely adore them and admire them and love them no matter what – these are the things I think are most important that I do as a parent.
I just traveled in Mexico for the first time, to Oaxaca. I went for a work inspiration trip. We visited local artisans – weavers, candle makers, glass blowers. It was fascinating to see them working at their craft and the love and care they put into each piece. I had an incredible time. I still resist travelling without my children and I tend to be a homebody. I think there is value in being someone who loves where they live and wants to stay and quietly work on their projects. But in the last two years I’ve become much more into travelling and it’s been a wonderful change. I’m excited about exploring and I have so many places on my list that I want to go.
What has the past year offered you the space, clarity or fortitude to explore more completely?
I did a vision board and it included more travel, more reading, more focus on fewer, more meaningful friendships, more one on one time alone with each of my children, attention to my health and fitness. I have it on my phone – it’s a little board on Instagram and I return to it to keep me focused.