2017: A Year in Review, Giving Announcements and What’s to Come in 2018
To my Family, Friends and Clients,
First of all, I hope everyone had a great holiday season with their family and friends. Kyle the hubby, Rosie the puppy and I spent Christmas this year with my family here in Houston. I set the Christmas tables with our wedding china (first time getting it out of the boxes since our wedding two years ago!) and Kyle cooked a very large ham. It was nice sitting down with my very large extended family and having a delicious meal. However, we missed seeing Kyle's parents this Christmas (hello Kris and Bill!).
2017: A Year in Review
“If you want something done honey, you gotta do it yourself.”
— Reese Witherspoon’s southern mother’s advice to her when she was launching her production company Pacific Standard, which focuses on telling female-driven stories on film. Watch the inspiring clip below!
This year was my second year in business and really my first year of running the JESSIE DUGAN business full time (meaning no more design freelance projects, no part time jobs). If I wanted Houston to have a thriving local fashion and luxury goods scene, it was time to do it myself by starting my own line.
Spring 2017: At the end of 2016, a lot of my clients told me that they would like to see me design more everyday pieces as well as the big/statement/couture/runway jewelry I originally started making for designer David Peck’s boutique. So starting early this year, I began designing and developing more casual pieces. These pieces proved to be very popular and by the end of spring, I wasn’t able to make them as fast as I was selling them. I decided it was time to launch an “official” line under my name. I needed to be more organized and design a line that could be reproduced by a stateside factory (I’m a huge ‘made in the USA’ / local manufacturing nerd) and sold online.
Summer 2017: I took a break from selling my pieces in the summer to develop my brand, product and online store. It was time to get serious and do some research. I called it my “summer of homework”!
Brand development: I worked local marketing guru Lauren Tennet to create my brand commandments and refined them with my team of beauty and wellness experts Andrea Simmons, Mellie Baxter and Robin Beltran. As always, I called in Vincent Guerra to advise me on brand visuals. With the help of my awesome team, the JESSIE DUGAN brand was born with four core values: well-being, sustainability, roots-awareness and forward-thinking. Read more about our brand values here.
Product development: I believe that you can create a better quality product when you have clear and constant communication, which is why local manufacturing is very important to me. Although gone are many of the American jewelry factories of the past, a lot of 3D-printed facilities have arisen from the manufacturing ashes. I had been researching these new facilities for a few years now but I knew they required a lot of technical training to utilize them. In NYC, when I attended Parsons School of Design and when I was in the work force at Henri Bendel and Tory Burch, we did all of our technical design work in 2D CAD, not 3D CAD. We started to get trained in 3D CAD right before I moved back to Houston. Thanks to YouTube and free, open-sourced 3D CAD programs, I painstakingly re-trained myself how to design using 3D CAD so I could then 3D-print my designs! It’s definitely one of the hardest things I’ve done (and continue to do) in my career so far but I really love learning it.
Fall 2017: I planned to launch my brand the weekend that Hurricane Harvey hit (LOL!!!!!!). Needless to say, it was a bad time to launch. I ended up launching one of the collections online a few weeks after Harvey and I started doing some events again. I think I made less than 100 bucks the month of October, it was ROUGH. It was the first time my small business was in debt. Luckily I was able to get a loan (and everything is now ok!). Although I was stressed about my own small business, I knew how bad some of my fellow small business owners had it… some lost all of their equipment due to flooding, some couldn’t pay their rent, times were tough! Not to mention, all the personal homes that were lost due to flooding. Houston was in survival mode and it was hard to see an end in sight.
Winter 2017: I was really nervous about this holiday season, given the hard times experienced in the fall. But boy was I proven wrong! I started to notice the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. People were out and about with happy looks on their faces. It was so nice to see people’s desire for a return to normalcy. My clients (that’s you!) shopped with excitement and vigor. You were excited and supportive of the growth of the brand and the launch of the new product. I had such a successful selling season, that I’m now able to repay my Harvey loan and hit the ground running in 2018! Wohoo!
2017 Giving Announcements
When I launched my online store this fall, I pledged that 10% of my online sales would go to Harvey related causes. Listed below are my giving amounts (please note these giving amounts only reflect last quarter’s sales because that’s when sales began online… I’m thinking next year’s donations will be more impressive!!).
Friends for Life: $200
*Friends For Life (FFL) is the only No Kill, LEED-certified shelter in Houston, TX. FFL was on the forefront of animal relief for Hurricane Harvey, managing temporary shelter for evacuees and their pets at the George R Brown Convention Center. I adopted my puppy Rosie from FFL in 2016.
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund established by Mayor Sylvester Turner: $300
*The Harvey Relief Fund was established by Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner after Hurricane Harvey.
What’s to Come in 2018
I’m so excited about what’s next for the brand!
Look Book Road Trip: We are shooting the first look book featuring the online collection in Marfa on Saturday, Jan 6th! Stay tuned for Facebook/ Instagram Live road trip updates! See inspo below.
Launch Party: We will be having a big launch party (maybe even a few parties!) for the look book in February. I think we deserve a party or two after what the year 2017 put us through!
VIP Client Program: You are the tried and true of the brand! You make everything happen and it’s time to celebrate you. Stay tuned for perks and events exclusive to our VIP Stunners that keep it 100!
Shopping Calendar: Oh yes, I will be ridin’ around that H-Town a whole lot more this year! Also I’m looking at you Austin! Stay tuned for a shopping calendar. (Because one Beyonce gif is not enough...)
New Styles: Can’t ever find rings or bracelets that fit you? We are launching basic rings and bangles in every size imaginable. They will be the perfect layering pieces! Although our brand already has unisex styles, we are launching a few more pieces exclusively for men (think cufflinks, signet rings, cuffs, etc!). Have a furry friend in your life? Get ready for some totally adorable puppy accessories! 10/10 would recommend!
2018 Giving Announcements
I’m proud to announce the official JESSIE DUGAN giving partners! These organizations do so much for the culture and well-being of Houston. Their values align perfectly with our brand.
Friends for Life: Because we just can't get enough of puppers! 10% of sales from CHARM/ZODIAC COLLECTIONS.
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft: 10% of sales from ELEMENT COLLECTIONS (EARTH, AIR, WATER, FIRE).
Houston Public Media: $30 per month ($1 a day because it’s all I listen to when I’m working in the studio!) + 10% of sales from CUSTOM COMMISSIONED PIECES.
Happy New Year!