“Running a successful business is all about resilience. It is one of the most rewarding yet challenging things you can do in life!” Jess Kaye, one half of The OWN Studio
Born from the creative minds of two London-based designers (and best friends) Jess Kaye and Rosie Williams, The OWN Studio is – in a nutshell – making waves. Devoted to being, in their own words: “Sartorially Sustainable”, the designer duo are dedicated to bringing stylish bridal wear to the table that’s designed to be worn time and time again. Lovingly crafted in London (a mere 10 miles from their East London studio) every The OWN Studio design is threaded with a luxurious timelessness and modern elegance that never goes out of style – no matter the season, no matter the event. Whether you opt for their luxe Double Breasted Tux Jacket (SWOON) or Sequin Crop, the idea of only wearing these pieces once is, quite bluntly, unthinkable. And, something else I love is the way in which every The OWN Studio order is delivered with restyling and alteration ideas. GENIUS. I managed to catch up with one half of The OWN Studio Jess, to talk about the duo’s business journey so far and their version of Taking The Plunge, including the highs, the lows, the first jobs, the worst jobs and the tech they can’t live without…
Name: Jess Kaye
Business: THE OWN STUDIO
Date you took the plunge: End of 2019
#1 In a nutshell, describe your business/brand – what do you offer?
“Contemporary wedding wear that lives beyond the wedding day.”
#2 What’s your career background? Has it always been in the wedding industry? “Both Rosie (business partner) and I come from a PR background. OWN really came about as a result of our own personal experiences. I was getting married (2015) and couldn’t find anything that felt sleek and contemporary. Rosie was a bridesmaid at the same time and was looking for something she could keep in her wardrobe and wear to other events after the wedding. We couldn’t believe there wasn’t something out there to suit more modern tastes. So it was really born out of our desire to do something different and disrupt a retail model that hadn’t changed in 50 years. Redefining bridal wear and the overall experience has been our passion ever since.”
#3 What planted the seed of your business idea? Did it strike you suddenly?
“We both love simple, effortless fashion and wanted to bring the same aesthetic to bridal wear. There was no one doing fashion-led bridal wear. If you didn’t conform to a certain stereotype or want to be a ‘princess’ bride or a ‘boho’ bride then there was very little out there for you. To us there was a big gap for contemporary designs for style-conscious women who ‘happened’ to be brides. Re-wearability was a huge part of that. From our own experiences, and from talking to the women around us, we knew brides-to-be wanted to invest in cool wedding outfits they could wear long after the wedding. All of that personal experience and research really helped inform our offer. We’ve taken the best bits from the traditional bridal world – the made to measure service and a personalised retail experience – and combined it with what we know is important to the modern woman – contemporary designs and re-wearability.”
#4 Describe the moment you decided to TAKE THE PLUNGE (what did this involve? Handing in your notice?)
“We’d been nurturing the nugget of an idea for a while and by 2019 we were ready to get started. We handed in our notice and took a big leap! I was on maternity leave so navigating that was tricky too but it was something we were both super passionate about and the time felt right. Little did we know a pandemic was around the corner!”
#5 Describe how the first day of building your own business felt:
“It was something that came about quite gradually because we’d been running it as a side hustle for a few years before officially launching. Launching a brand in the middle of a pandemic was incredibly scary but we both love a challenge and it was a sink or swim moment. Sometimes we look back at our former lives and pinch ourselves because we love what we do and there is no greater thing in life!”
#6 The highs – what have they been so far?
“Dressing so many women for such a momentous life moment. It’s honestly the biggest privilege. We will always get a buzz out of it.”
#7 The lows – how did you move past them? What did you learn?
“Running a successful business is all about resilience. It is one of the most rewarding yet challenging things you can do in life! You are spinning a million different plates and often things will come out of nowhere that you hadn’t planned for – Brexit, Covid, Ukraine, rising inflation etc. The biggest thing we’ve learnt is to take each day as it comes, keep your head down and keep going.”
#8 If you could tell yourself three things when you first started the business – what would they be?
No.1 “Listen to your customer.”
No.2 “Set yourself big goals every year and have a clear vision.”
No.3 “Don’t get distracted with what others are doing – you will have your own path and way of doing things.”
#9 Your tips for those dreaded lying-awake-at-3am times? (Counting sheep? Glass of water? Get up? Meditate? Read?)
#10 Your top organisational tip?
“Don’t put things off – do them then and there. Only way to get things done!”
#11 Who inspired you? Or inspires you in business?
“Natalie Massenet, she was a leader in her field and the first person to really understand the potential of e-commerce. She’s used her position to champion other women in business and I love the direction with her career since leaving Net a Porter, with the IMAGINARY fund.”
#12 An app/piece of tech you now couldn’t live without for your business:
“Our website. Right from the beginning we wanted to behave differently to a traditional bridal brand and a big part of that was opening up the way you can shop for wedding wear. Most brands don’t list pricing or share imagery, with everything done through retail stockists in-store. Our website gives us a huge international reach and allows hundreds of brides from all over the world to shop with us with confidence.”
#13 Your first ever job was…
#14 Your top social media tip?
“It’s easy to get distracted by the noise. People like authentic voices so from the outset develop your own identity and tone of voice.”
#15 The brand you’d love to collaborate with and why…?
“Simon Jacquemus, his creativity is relentless and so inspiring.”
#16 Name a business/social media account(s) – that have helped/inspired you with your business?
“There are so many creatives on instagram, we’re constantly inspired by it.”
#17 Your fav social media tool: (Pinterest? Instagram? LinkTree? Etc.)
“Instagram but love Pinterest for more unusual archive imagery.”
#18 Your advice to those looking to TAKE THE PLUNGE:
“Find a partner who inspires you and you love to work with – it’s no fun doing it alone.”
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS | THE OWN STUDIO
#1 Most inspirational book you’ve read: “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.”
#2 You’re in Starbucks, what do you order?
#3 Instagram feed crush:
“Obsessed with pop culture accounts like Velvet Coke.”
#4 Your worst job was…
“Pot washing at a local pub when I was 14!”
#5 If you didn’t do what you do…what would you do?
“I would love to do an Escape to the Chateau.”
#6 Work day pick-me-up:
“Dirty Martini (out of hours of course!)”
Discover more the contemporary bridal offering over at The OWN Studio STAT, and while you’re there check out the label’s Instagram.