I met the beautiful Jessie Black when we both moved from Europe to San Francisco; some friends of ours living in Dubai set us up on what we now refer to as our blind date. We shared our plans for a new life in California and I was instantly inspired by her dream to open up her first interiors boutique. Over the last eighteen months, I have watched in admiration as she brought this beautiful space (aptly named “Jessie Black”) to life, and filled it with luxurious textures and classic designs.
Born in Sydney, she gathered product knowledge and inspiration for the boutique through her career in the luxury goods market that allowed her to spend a decade living in Paris, London, New York, Monte Carlo, and now, San Francisco.
I sat down with Jessie and we spoke about her boutique, life as a business owner and some of her travel gems…
HOW HAVE YOUR TRAVEL EXPERIENCES INSPIRED THE AESTHETIC OF YOUR BOUTIQUE?
Within weeks of finishing high school I went to Europe for a six week holiday and well, that was well over 10 years ago. The rest is history! I’ve been inspired by the energy and diversity of all the incredibly beautiful and culturally vibrant cities I have lived in. I took a little inspiration from each place. I love the chic minimalism of Paris, the classic nature of London, the boldness of New York, the old-world sophistication of Monte Carlo and the freshness and diversity of San Francisco.
WHAT’S THE MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT BEING A BUSINESS OWNER?
Decision making is often hard. I have a small network of trusted colleagues, friends and mentors that I often turn to for advice. But ultimately as a business owner you are the one that has to make the calls. This is especially hard when it may not be popular decision.
THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT BEING A BUSINESS OWNER?
The sense of independence that comes with being my own boss and having ownership on my own time. I’ve always loved the words of Elsie de Wolfe ‘I am going to make everything around me beautiful’. I have it printed and on my desk and I look at it every day. That is something that I aspire to do bit of each day – just sprinkle some beauty here and there. Oh, and getting to take my dog Max to work!
DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THE SUCCESS OF YOUR BOUTIQUE TO ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR?
For once, I think that my pedantic fussiness has been a huge plus. It means that each and every item in the boutique has been thoughtfully selected and thoroughly curated. My partnerships with the skilled artisans and suppliers certainly sets the boutique apart from others. I work with the Frette family in Italy to make my sheets, and my cashmere ateliers work for brands like Chanel and Hermés so I really work with the best of the best. Finally, it’s a very genuine, authentic brand. Many brands spin a story to make it seem more interesting, but at Jessie Black everything has been sourced or inspired from my own travels and adventures.
IS THERE ANY ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO WOMEN IN THE INTERIOR/DESIGN WORLD WHO ARE LOOKING TO START A BUSINESS?
Write a thorough business plan, do your research and due diligence but then at the end of the day – just have to have the courage to go for it. I wrote my business plan while finishing my MBA in Monaco. All the planning and research in the world can never replace the simple act of just getting started, even if it is just little by little each day, taking baby steps in the right direction. Also be selective when it comes to the advice you take. When I started out, I received a generous amount of kind-hearted advice and instruction from others, but you’ve got to have confidence in your own decisions and directions and know what advice to take on board and what not to.
YOUR MOST UNFORGETTABLE TRAVEL MEMORY?
There have been many! I’ve always embraced these words: ‘Travel is the only thing you spend money on that makes you richer’. We have a rustic cottage in Provence and my favorite memories are sitting outside in the sunshine with friends, rosé, delicious provençal food and just chatting. It’s those simple moments that I love when traveling. Something as simple as stumbling upon a lovely local patisserie or seeing a beautiful shuttered window. It’s those small every day moments that I love to savor when I’m traveling.