Jillian is an independent accessory designer. She designs, manufacture and sells accessories all over the world. Her current count is 21 stores in 6 countries, and she also sells online via her website.
What does a typical Thursday look like for you, starting from when you wake up – to heading to bed?
All of the days sort of run together for me, so Thursday could pretty much be any day of the week. I usually wake up around 9-930am, have a shower, and while in the shower make a mental list of what I’m going to do once I get out of the shower (I’m starting to use paper for my lists, though, as my mind has failed me more than once). Then I spend a while answering emails, researching blogs and emailing them to drum up some press, ordering supplies if need be and warming up the glue gun. Usually I have something I have to leave the house for on most days- like delivering orders to one of my stockists, so I will work in the studio I share with my boyfriend (he’s an illustrator) and make some treasures until about 2pm. Then I will take five seconds to eat some yogurt or a banana or oatmeal or some combination thereof, and head to the store I’m dropping an order off to- lately I’ve been biking, which has been wonderful! I always make a stop at the post office to mail something. Then I’ll come back, heat up the glue gun again and work from a list of what I need to make for that particular order. All of this in-studio making stuff is performed with the background noise of various HBO and Showtime programs (I’m REALLY into Big Love right now). Then around 4 or 5pm, I’ll take a quick cat nap as I’m a fairly low energy person and I tire easily. Then I’ll make some more stuff, package it up for shipping, make some more, make and eat some dinner, and repeat until I go to sleep at about 1-2am. I manage to accomplish all this while obsessively checking my email every few minutes.
What was your first job out of school?
School wasn’t that long ago for me- I graduated from McGill in May 2008, then spent that summer in Montreal working at a company called ‘BackCheck’, doing background checks for companies on prospective employees. My job was to call their references and ask probing questions. I did that for three months then moved back to my hometown (Stratford, ON) and was a server for about four months before my boyfriend and I moved to London, UK where I started my accessory business in Jan 2009.
What are the 3 skills you require most to do your job well?
Perseverance, attention to detail, adaptability.
What do you love most about your career?
I LOVE working for myself. Although this means working much harder and much longer hours than I ever thought would be humanly possible, I love not answering to anyone. I like making my own schedule and doing what I want to do when I want to do it. Since every part of myself is so invested in my products, and my business in general, each success and every sale is a personal triumph. Whenever someone buys one of my creations, it is like they are personally affirming me, my style and what I think is beautiful- that feels amazing!
Do you have any warnings?
Well, the flip side of working for yourself and having every success and achievement feel bigger and more personal is that every shortcoming, failure or misstep makes just as big of an impact, only on the other side of the scale. I always say it’s like a roller coaster because the highs are higher, but the lows are lower too. It is very difficult to make a living by making things and selling them and there is a lot more involved in the process than you think. Beware of burnout- I’ve only been doing this for a little over a year and I think that if I’m going to survive and persevere over time, that I will need to find more of a balance between work and life.
If you could try a different career on for a year, what would it be?
I’d love to do something where I could live in a few different places for a year. I haven’t been working in the fashion industry long enough to want to try something new and I feel like I haven’t even discovered the tip of the iceberg in terms of all that the industry encompasses. So, I’d probably want to live for 3 months in Berlin, 3 months in Stockholm, and 3 months in Madrid. I’d like to spend that time learning how to sew, and pattern-make and how to make actual clothing. Then the last 3 months I’d spend living in Argentina with my new skills and sew a bunch of awesome stuff.