Meet the Woman Responsible for Gigi Hadid's Custom Leather Jacket
When Gigi Hadid stepped out in her custom 'Hadidas' jacket, the world went nuts. And we followed suit.
From that moment on it was our mission to find the designer and, thanks to the powers (and efficiency) of the World Wide Web, we found Jessie Willner (owner and creative director of The Mighty Company). Then begged her for a visit.
About two weeks after the initial email, we found ourselves in the designer's garage-turned-workspace surrounded by hand-painted leather jackets, a glaring pink neon sign and the musings of an artist. We gabbed about how Jessie got started and how Bella Hadid and other celebs are repeat customers. But our favorite part was arguably when she serenaded us on her new harmonica, which was admittedly an impulse buy. "You know when you just need one more thing to fill up your Amazon cart?" Totally.
Interested in getting to know her yet? You should be.
What was your first job?
Filing insurance claims in an office when I was 14.
How did you get into the industry?
Evolution! I've gone through phases in life of working in every medium of art. When I was a kid I religiously took up animation. Then it turned into painting, mixed media, photography, film editing, graphic design, etc. It was very natural that the next thing I wanted to create was something that could be used by anyone. Something that was a combination of practicality and creativity. The answer for that, to me, was fashion design.
What's a typical day like for you?
I wake up, start going through new emails in bed, throw on clothes, rush to the studio (which is luckily connected to my house) to have the first morning meeting with my team. The day is usually just a hustle to get through everything that needs to be completed, which for me is a combination of production meetings, design, shoots, editing photos and/or graphic design (I still do all on-going edits and graphic design myself) and making sure everyone else is on track.
I try to get to bed by 12:30 a.m. or 1 a.m., but am usually unsuccessful because our factory is overseas, so if I'm making new product, most of the communication takes place between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. (because of the time difference). Then I end every day with a hot shower, because it chills me out. No matter how late it is, I try to read for 20 minutes so I don't feel like a robot. Then I fall asleep and start all over the next morning.
Tell us about your office.
When we started about 7 months ago, it was in my house. The operation kept growing and it eventually took over my bottom floor and living room. I loved having it a part of the house (since there's not really a line between work and personal life for me), but I needed it to be separate from my actual living room. So we took my giant garage that I was using for storage, completely stripped and renovated it. We made it into a large open work space and photo studio. It's big enough to fit all of our daily operations, facilitate meetings and shoots. I know we'll outgrow it at some point, but I'm loving it while it lasts.
Have any favorite things in your office?
One thing we couldn't get around when renovating the office was this horrendous AC condenser that traveled across half of the back wall. We tried to embrace it and nicknamed it ‘The Dragon'. After we finished building out everything in the office we had the idea to just tie the joke up nicely by having our friend Christy Oliva paint the whole thing with a mural of an actual dragon. His name is Leonard.
What's the best part about your job?
This. I love getting to talk about the insides of what we do because I'm always hoping it will make it more real to someone reading and give them any semblance of a feeling they can do something they're passionate about—because it's not magic, it's just hard work. And anyone can work hard.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
There's no such thing as failure.
What are you best known for?
Attention to detail. Probably because I'm a perfectionist and a tiny bit crazy.
What exciting things does The Mighty Company have coming up?
We just launched the new customization part of our website. It's interactive with what you type in and we had to build the code for it from scratch—because no web app could integrate the artwork for it. It's taken a lot to get everything in place and hammer out the workflow (all of the hand-painting is done in-house!), so I'm extremely excited about it.
Finish the below sentences.
Today for lunch I had...a giant protein shake.
The first website I log onto every day is…Gmail.com.
If I wasn't doing this job, I would…maybe be in a band. Or creating some random film project.
My favorite place to visit is…France. And my bed.
The book I'm reading right now is…just finished About a Boy by Nick Hornby. Now I'm reading Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone…I re-read them every so often and I just started again. I'm a complete fanatic. Two of my friends and I actually have a secret club called "Your Mom's a Horcrux".