Studio Visit: Jones of Boerum Hill
It is an amazing and inspiring time for people looking to start their own small business. And now more then ever, with much thanks to the internet, consumers can easily stumble upon creatives from all over the world discovering new and unique products where each piece has it's own personal story, details and style unlike anything being produced in their own neighborhood.
When I came across the apron line Jones Of Boerum Hill - I definitely had an apron doesn't just have to be an apron moment. These were different. Impeccably made with handsome details and a sense of stylish respect for anyone who wanted to wear one. Which is why it makes sense that not only chefs from around the country are snagging these beauties up, but so are other small businesses of movers, shakers...and even perfume makers.
We take a minute to chat with Iestyn & Deirdra of Brooklyn based Jones Of Boerum Hill to learn what it takes to stay inspired between pounding rivets, how experience in the fashion industry gives them an edge in this competitive industry and how podcasts mixed with British 80s music can keep this duo motivated through the grind.
STUDIO VISIT: JONES OF BOERUM HILL
Who: Iestyn & Deirdra Jones Where: Brooklyn, NYC
Tell us a little bit about the significants of the name and branding behind Jones Of Boerum Hill?
Boerum Hill is the name of the neighborhood where we live and work in Brooklyn, and Jones is our last name. It's a very small and beautiful neighborhood, and not many people have ever heard of it, even people that live in NYC.
What was the first moment....or apron...that kicked this off as a business for you?
We had a friend in the hospitality industry that knew Deirdra was in fashion production, and asked us to design and produce some aprons for his restaurant. When we saw the great feedback and how much market need there was for well designed aprons, we decided to create Jones of Boerum Hill!
Deirdra, you have previous experience working for Steven Alan and Iestyn a heavy background in marketing/sales. Tell us how those individual experiences have helped shape what you do today.
I started off my career in fashion by freelancing for loads of different companies via an agency, so they would send me out for all kinds of different jobs. It was such a great way to learn all the different aspects of the fashion industry, from tech, to design, to pattern making, and trend research. I was able to apply all of these skills at Steven Alan, where I worked on both the design & production teams. I was deeply entrenched in all the details of domestic production there, so it was a perfect transition for me to begin producing my own line domestically. Also, Steven Alan is a small team, so there is an "all hands on deck" approach to the day to day, which means you learn a lot.
Iestyn is from the UK, and was a top sales guy there. He also trained others in sales tactics, so he really has the perfect skill set to run his own company. He also did woodwork and housing construction when he was younger, which made it quite easy for him to learn how to create our leather apron straps (which he makes by hand in our Brooklyn studio).
I would say it's a perfect match, because our strengths our opposite of one another.
There is a wide market of aprons out there - what are the challenges of navigating through that industry and what key details make you stand out from the crowd?
It is a massive market! That can be a huge benefit, but also quite overwhelming. In terms of reaching out to customers, there are so many different industries and individuals that use aprons, so it's quite difficult to zero in on who to market to. We've had people from all over the globe and loads of different professions buy our products, and it's so interesting for us to see al these different ways our products are being used.
In terms of standing out from the crowd, we come from a fashion point of view, as opposed to strictly function. Many of our competitors are former chefs or other industry people, but there aren't any other companies that are coming from the fashion industry, to our knowledge. Because of this, our product is superior in terms of design and fit, but also construction and durability. The challenge we have now is how to market ourselves to the general public while also marketing to the hospitality industry.
Tell us about your production process. How do you go from conceiving a concept to final piece?
The process had really been evolving over the past year! Now that we have a good base of products to work off of, we like to listen to what our customers are looking for and make tweaks based on that feedback. Some of our chef clients have come out with some wonderful ideas, and we've been lucky enough to work on many really interesting and innovative collaborations. We start by sketching out some initial ideas together, and then begin working on samples.
We've got an incredible dedicated factory in midtown that we work with, and some great relationships with fabric suppliers, so we are able to do a good amount of development and mess around with fabrics and trims to get the perfect final product.
How do you stay inspired and get through hustle? Any particular soundtrack or bevvy needed along the way?
That's a great question. It can be very hard to be motivated and stay focused on the day to day hustle. I have my headphones in for a pretty large portion of each day, either listening to music or podcasts. I've found some really insightful and inspiring podcasts, like the StartUp podcast, and I love TED Radio Hour. In terms of soundtrack, the album Lost in a Dream by the band The War on Drugs has been my go-to pretty much weekly since it came out last year. I never get tired of listening to it. Iestyn loves British 80's music, it gets him energized and motivated!
What's next? Any new projects, products or dream collaborations on the horizon?
We've just done a great collaboration with Eataly, which was definitely a dream come true! We are planning on opening our store / workshop space in Brooklyn this fall, so we're really excited about that. And the development of the workwear line has just started, so we're looking forward to debuting those items soon.
We love what these two are doing...and clearly we're not alone! Martha Stewart just named them an American Made Finalist - which you can vote for them here!
Go browse the Jones Of Boerum Hill website and pick out your perfect apron (we've upgraded our tucked tea towel "apron" game with the Reggie Bib in Osaka Stripe) and see what these two clever creatives get up to around New York on Instagram & Twitter!