Boss Babes: Meet Jessie Willner
Living in the midst of today’s digital age, it seems the tangible things that we once loved — books, pictures, personal letters — have all been digitized by Willy Wonka’s wonka vision. However, even though the majority of our things can easily live inside a computer, fashion is the one palpable thing we need to survive. While we could go on for daaayyss about why we love fashion so much (seriously, we should see a doctor), we figured it would be best to introduce you to someone who understands our obsession.
Jessie Willner is not your average 24 year old. She’s insanely creative, isn’t afraid to take risks, and loves a mean slice of pizza — oh, and she cooked-up The Mighty Company, an LA-based jacket-centric brand. From the beginning, Willner had a hand in every aspect of her company — and we mean everything: from the website’s coding to the jacket’s designs, she learned it, created it, and conquered the shit out of it. For the 10-piece collection, this visual artist turned fashion designer took inspiration from 17th-century France, post-impressionism and mid-20th century style icons. And while most authentic leather jackets have a price tag that’s equal to your New York one-bedroom apartment, these swoon-worthy leathers won’t come between you and your morning cup of joe. All in all, we couldn’t be more ecstatic to see Willner’s designs come to fruition. It’s incredible how a tiny idea can become so mighty (pun intended).
Los Angeles. Still reppin’.
Must-have item from The Mighty Company:
White bomber with my dog, Lenny, painted on it.
Best way to jumpstart the day?
A giant green protein smoothie.
LA-based food joint you can’t get enough of:
Lucifer’s. Because I’ll be loving pizza until I die. Also, if my best friend’s home cooking qualifies, then that too.
Who’s your ultimate style icon?
Always Françoise Hardy. And my grandmother!
Essential beauty product every woman should have:
I make this organic face oil that saves my life every day. I get a 4 oz bottle and mix 2/3 Jojoba oil, 1/3 Tamanu oil & 20 drops of lavender essential oil. I put it on at night after I wash my face. It’s glorious.
Travel destination you’ve been meaning to explore?
Iceland and Antarctica! Which is funny because I hate the cold, but they are so insanely beautiful.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you came up with The Mighty Company?
I’ve been a freelance artist and graphic designer since I moved out when I was 17. Eventually, I became drawn to fashion because it fascinated me that these designers could make something so brilliant and three-dimensional out of an idea, and that it would then go and live in the world for decades. That’s really powerful in a digital age like we live in. I think naturally fashion can become very materialistic, but at its core, it’s you getting to pour your heart into something so that it can go be a part of someone’s life that lives across the world from you. That all led me to start designing this collection.
Why did you decide to solely focus on jackets?
The permanency of them. You just never get rid of an amazing jacket. They never get old and the classic shapes have transcended so many trends. They’re the last layer of an outfit and the first thing others notice. It was important to me to make something I didn’t feel like would disappear easily.
Where do you find inspiration when you’re designing each item?
Everywhere — I keep old shoeboxes and stash hundreds of vintage references in them, not to mention the upwards of ten thousand inspiration photos on my computer and phone! The smallest things trigger ideas for me and I write them down into one of my too-many lists. The ones I love (the) most stick around and I end up making them.
How do you think your personal style reflects onto your own designs?
I think my style is split into two very distinct sides — polished and wild. I think both of those qualities shine through in the collection.
Instead of outsourcing for your company, you initially created everything on your website from scratch. Why did you decide to take this unconventional approach for your company?
I’m very specific and so it’s really important to me to have a hand in every aspect of the brand, because then I feel like I’m speaking to the woman who ends up in my jackets directly. So I still manage and design everything on the site, including a lot of the coding and dialogue. And I oversee or create all the digital and physical visuals myself.
Starting a company from scratch is not an easy feat. How did you figure out the process to effectively get your company up and running? Were there any hiccups that you had to get over?
Yes! I’m an optimist and I always picture things going perfectly. It never does, but you just have to roll with the punches. I think the most sweeping lesson is to always think of how you can solve anything that comes your way, instead of letting it steamroll you like you really want to sometimes. The things you think could never get messed up or are too elementary to be forgotten will be messed up and forgotten. You just have to figure out how to turn it to your advantage instead of giving up.
While plenty of jackets feature embroidered or embossed materials, you opted for free-hand painting details. Why is that?
Embroidering or embossing definitely requires unique skill, but hand-painting just felt the most personal to me. A paintbrush and a canvas will always, always be relevant and it holds that reminiscence of all the works of art that inspired me to start creating art in the first place.
Fill in the blank: My perfect day includes doing ____, eating _____, and seeing ______.
Inspiring work, something home-cooked, my mother.
What is the one thing you wish people to take away from The Mighty Company?
A feeling that they can create something out of nothing if some crazy 23-year-old with no degrees could.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?
Being self-proclaimed president of a tropical island I discovered.
Any advice for future Boss Babes, especially those wanting to enter into the fashion industry?
Don’t take things too seriously. Except for your work ethic — Take that insanely seriously.
You’re creating something out of nothing but imagination, and that scares people sometimes, so don’t let that phase you. There’s nothing more rewarding and scary than having your complete fate in your own hands and it’s completely worth it.