Maker Profile: Jessica Blume, Founder of Jume - Byron Bay
Hi Jessica! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Jessica Blume and I am a weaver, textile artist and also run a small ethical clothing label and manage a co-working, events space in Byron Bay called the Corner Palm. I have recently moved from Melbourne to Byron Bay where i am now living and working.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
I first studied writing and fine art then moved to Melbourne Univerity where I studied arts majoring in philosophy and art history but left that half way through to study textile design at RMIT. I just kept circling back to creative stuff when I tried to do academic study and vice versa. At RMIT I focussed on weaving and did a lot of theory work in sustainability which really shaped what I wanted to do. It was the perfect balance for me and I really loved doing self study through online lectures and podcasts while I wove all day. I found it was the best way to nourish my mind and creative side. Hopefully down the line when the label is more stable, I will continue to study so that I can work in more community based projects around the world. Throughout this I was working in Melbourne for a business called Pop and Scott doing painting, weaving, floristry and it was through this experience I was able to work every day with amazing people running their own businesses and learn so much that has guided me in my own practice.
What led you to create Jume? Did you always anticipate having your own business/shop?
I knew I wanted to work for myself for a long time. When I was younger I thought I would be an artist or a writer and really loved the freedom and opportunity for travel and creativity that self employment offered. For years I had been designing and making my own clothes when I was a poor student and always really loved it and received a lot of encouragement but never took it seriously as a career option because I thought it wouldn't be hands on or fulfilling enough for me. I wanted to be involved in the garments at every level from the making of the fibre to the finished piece and it was through studying textiles and learning to weave that I realised that that was possible. I got really into plant dying, different weaving techniques, the ethical and environmental impact of textile manufacturing and fibre study and after understanding it from this perspective I fell back in love with garment making but in a much more complex and passionate way. After a year of not really weaving and saving money at odd studio hand jobs like doing pottery and basket making, I started to plot away at an idea for a small ethical clothing label of simple timeless pieces and have been really enjoying the process.
What is your process of designing and creating your pieces?
Sometimes I will design from a pattern I work on and other times I work from a fabric that I fall in love with and think about what that type of garment would be beautiful as and go from there. I have only done my first collection so far but for that I spent a long time collecting vintage or home make op-shop pieces that had beautiful features, be it a great waist band or a flattering collar and would also draw a lot of sketches and think about what I wish I owned and then I would go from there to create simple classic garments and then spend a lot of time picking and testing out fabrics that I love. Through my studies I already knew the environmental impact of most garments and that was often my starting point. Then I worked on a colour palette and then test out the different ways that that colour could be achieved through plant dyes. Unfortunately for the first collection the plant dying was not quite right but I am back working on sampling and experimenting with that now and it is a really fun and grounding part of the design process. For weaving I often just do water colours and pick a palate and weaving technique then really let go and just make it up as I go. It's way more unstructured.
How do you source your materials?
The process is different for weaving and garment making. For weaving I buy beautiful yarns from little spinners and businesses at markets, trade shows and farmers and also online from little stores that I know source really interesting and sustainable fibres like raw silk, nettle, hemp and raw alpaca. For garments it is much harder because so much of the supply chain for fabric is not as transparent as I wish it was so I spend a lot of time online trying to find fair trade and organic fabric makers to work with and then head out to meet them where possible. I have just found this amazing place in India (Australia really doesn't produce the sustainable fabrics that I want to work with) that hand spins organic cotton and weaves beautiful local peace silks and banana silks which are carbon neutral and all plant dyed so I will be heading there this year to see the whole process myself and meet all the makers.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration from old patterns and vintage catalogues of Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein from the 80's and 90's. Very often from the fabrics themselves influence what I want to make. I want clothes that are easy to wear and flattering and are simple enough that they are not seasonal. For this collection I was really inspired my the films by Eric Rohmer and also European sea side fashion, I wanted to make clothes that made people want to go yachting and surfing and drinking wine on the coast on summer afternoons. I wanted a collection that felt fresh and comfortable to wear and not ageist or only flattering on model body figures.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
What make me most passionate about what I do is the sustainable aspect, it is what forces me to keep going when it gets hard and grounds me with a clear perspective about what matters and why it needs to be done. But what gets me the most excited is seeing my clothes being worn on people, it never gets old. I also really love getting to work with other amazing women and do photoshoots and collaborations, this is so much fun! i also am really passionate about textiles in general and being able to share different fibres or iconic textile artists that I love is something that I really love.
Do you have any favorite brands/designers that we should know of?
I am in love with the bold cuts and clours of the menswear label SUNNEI, the beautiful subdued cuts of shop amomento, the dreamy knits and aesthetics by hesperios and the calm beauty of cosmic wonder at the moment and in weaving I think everyone should know the work of Anni Albers, Eva Hesse, Sonia Delaunay and Jack Lenor Larsen.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face with Jume?
So many setbacks! Delays in production and launch date, samples that don't come out right, plant dyes are really inconsistent and hard to make colour fast and all of the difficulties and setbacks that come with finding ethical production studios and fabrics. Doing it this way makes everything much harder but so much more worth it. Obviously there are always financial setbacks when starting out, which has forced me to do many things myself which would have been better if outsourced, such as photography and website building haha. The other big difficulty was in ordering. It was so hard to gauge what people would love and I found that I was selling out of two garments in the first day of each drop while some others barley sold! This meant that I had more stock than I wanted on hand and had long lead times for other things which was no good! The thing about all the setbacks in this label, each one taught me something really important that I needed to learn. I know that sounds corny and of course it was super stressful at the time, but I really felt like I didn't have much to lose and I was grateful to make mistakes earlier on when I am just starting rather than down the line when I have a lot more to lose and more of a reputation to upkeep!
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
I think it is extremely important for women to work together. I believe that is dangerous to deny that we aren't still living in a world dominated by patriarchy and within this social structure women really need to support and uphold one another as a community. Competitive attitudes will divide and dissolve the very ties that I think are integral to the true success of all the hard work that women and the trans/non binary community are doing to level the playing field. Womankind is endlessly diverse and when we work together and are inclusive, we shine light on different perspectives that hold the potential for growth, wisdom and beauty. We would all lose so so much by not talking, hearing and understanding one another and the same goes for working together. Within my creative career, I have always worked for strong amazing women who have always treated me as an equal, respected me and trusted my abilities and potential in a way that only another woman could and I have always loved the sisterhood that I have found in these workplaces as well as in the greater creative community of women who I am lucky enough to have as friends and collaborators. I started rattling off names of the phenomenal women that have supported and encouraged me creatively and it got so long that I had to stop haha. I also really find value in working with women in my production. Women have always been the heart and soul of the textile industry, and it was and still is work which was not appreciated and given the respect that it deserved. "Women's work" and "decorative craft" are terms that come to mind. When you think about he intricacy and skill that goes into a Persian rug or the qwaker quilts for example you really can see how easily people take these thinks for granted. I want to constantly strive to change these perspectives and give respect where it is long due through raising awareness and also ensuring that the women I work with are healthy, happy, well paid and always feel respected and safe.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
That is a hard question as there are so so many across all creative fields and throughout history! Creative women (all women) who love what they do, are wise and funny, honest and unapologetic about who they are and do what they love with their own inimitable style. In contemporary creatives I love the work/life balance and genuine integrity of Jesse Kamm. I love the infectious optimism and colourful way that artist Elise Peterson gets her empowering messages across. I love the versatility and adaptive quality of Ana Kras who nails it in every field she traverses. I love the transcendent beauty of Kelsey Lous music and how uncompromising she is at being her amazingly stylish and babin' self.
What have you learned from creating your own business that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
How to go with the flow and adapt to the unexpected, how to take risks and trust my taste, how to self-motivate and manage time, that one I am still working on! I also am learning how to be assertive and learn how to say no to things which is really important. And I have had to learn to feel and manage stress in my body. It's so important to finally know what works for me, being hungover when there is heaps on my plate is like hell and if i don't surf or go for a long hard bush walk or dance when I am super busy or stressed things can easily become overwhelming.
Do you have any resources that have been helpful to you that we should know of?
In Australia I highly recommend getting on neis (google it) if you can! It really was so incredibly helpful for me, but honestly the best resource is having an amazing creative community of friends. This was the big one for me. I have amazing photographers, models, mentors, web designers and artists and other makers to collaborate with all around me who guided, helped, supported, advised, promoted and inspired what I was doing the whole way and I am sure I could never have done it without them! Also as I imagine you already know, instagram was amazingly helpful, would have taken me years to have as many people aware of the label as I do now if it wasn't for that and it has also made it really fun because it doubles as a moodboard and helps me speak to customers first hand which is so nice.
How do you manage your time?
Well up until this week I wasn't managing it at all and it was quite hard. I launched the label while I was between states moving and my life was turning upside down so iIfound it really hard to focus on anything for long and was working at really weird times. Now things are much better and I just give myself set days and treat it like a real job and always try to treat myself to a surf and fresh air and yum things before and after and make sure I do enough work that I can totally switch off and rejuvenate over night. I find I am just so much calmer and less stressed if I chip away at things and get on top of stuff early otherwise it can all be too much when you are doing it on your own.
How do you deal with moments of self-doubt?
I just step back and get some perspective. I am really lucky and I am really just starting out so mistakes are ok and I will get so much better over time. Having a cause that is bigger than just my own creative reputation makes this way way easier because I am doing this so that there are more ethical options for basics in the fashion world and also to show others that it is possible and should be expected by consumers so when I doubt myself creatively I am reminded of why I am doing this and that is something that I can be proud of. I also only do small runs of my garments and so if something is not as popular as I thought it might be, it is not too much of a disaster. I have plenty of other ideas and new projects in my mind and it is really unrealistic to think that everything that I do is going to be amazing all the time. You just need to be kind to yourself and know that if it doesn't work out, then there is a million other paths that this life could take and you will have learnt so much along the way.
What are you trying to learn right now?
Right now I am trying to learn how to really hear my inner voice, to discern the difference between the voice of intuition and the voice of fear and learn to decipher what the signs that my body is telling me mean and what I need to do about them. I am learning to rely on my own inner company when I feel lonely or unanchored, which is hard for an extroverted person but integral for someone who craves fresh starts as much as I do. On a more practical level, I am learning to be a better surfer and now that I am living alone with only about 5% of my friend within driving distance in this state, I am taking up guitar and Spanish lessons again to keep myself entertained at night.
What are some of your favorite places in Byron Bay?
I love Broken Head where I live so much and love chilling in the the little coves around there. I love surfing at Wategos at sunset and doing the lighthouse loop in the morning for a little rainforest walk and a beautiful view. I love eating at Doma in fedral and visiting friends in little shacks in upper wilsons creek and I really love all of the waterfalls in the area. There are so many places that take your breath away. This area really is so beautiful.
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