***As originally published in COCO magazine***
“Jamaica’s fashion cannot really be defined as one thing because it’s very eclectic. The range is so vast. This is really how we came up with the four collections. So that everyone can find something that represents their individuality” Chantay Campbell, Designer, JLC Women
I first noticed JLC Women’s designs last year. They created stunning ‘limited edition’ earrings to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence. These pieces of jewelery celebrate the essence of Jamaican culture. The four pieces include (from left to right): Flag Drop, Humming Bird ear cuff, Akee Knob and Blue Mahoe Hoop. More recently, they’ve started designing a swimsuit line that will be launching this month. Beach ‘limes’ (or hangouts) are so intrinsic to island living that this addition to their portfolio was only fitting. Before we skip to my interview with these beautiful designers, here’s the cheat sheet on JLC Women.
JLC Women – The name stands for Jewelery Loving Creative Women and the initials also happen to be the first letter of the designers’ names:
Jannae (the ‘J’ of ‘JLC) is a freelance graphic designer who recently discovered a new love for video editing, through producing the makeup tutorials on the JLC Women YouTube channel. Given her passion for art, she is responsible for all graphic design for the brand. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts and is working towards her Masters in Graphic Design.
Lauren (the ‘L’ of ‘JLC’) is the designer of the limited edition Jamaica’s 50th independence earring collection. She records some of the makeup tutorials on the JLC YouTube channel and passion for music and fashion runs through her veins. She works for the Jamaican government, while working towards a Bachelor of Business Marketing.
Chantay (the ‘C’ of ‘JLC’) designs both earrings and cover-ups for the brand. Thanks to her impressive make up collection; she records most of the JLC make-up tutorials. Her new obsession is exploring Jamaica’s beaches, caves and hillsides. With a Bachelor of Architecture and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Environmental Technology, she works for a construction company in Jamaica.
Trish: What does fashion mean to you?
A: Lauren: Fashion is your personality on display. What you wear is the first thing you show to the world. Your style can tell your story. And the beauty is always evolving.
Trish: Do you consider yourselves to be artists?
A: Jannae: Yes, every designer is first an artist, and the medium is fabric. Clothing, jewelry it’s all wearable art.
Trish: When did you realize you wanted to become designers?
A: Chantay: We have always been lovers of fashion and very art minded.
Trish: What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
A: Lauren: I’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer. I’ve been sketching dresses and outfits since way back when.
Chantay: In Kindergarten we had to make a class magazine, I was in charge of the fashion section. I drew a little dress, purse and shoes, I guess that was my first attempt at fashion.
Jannae: This season’s swimsuits were the first item of clothing I’ve ever designed.
Trish: How would you define your personal style?
A: Chantay: It’s funny that all three of us basically have similar styles. In a nutshell, we don’t match. We don’t believe everything has to match and are always mixing and matching colors and fabrics in our every day wear.
Trish: Describe the general process you go through to design a new piece of jewelery or article of clothing.
A: Lauren: We don’t design together. We get inspired separately and we come together to share our sketches. Then collectively, we tweak them and decide which collection the selected designs most compliment.
Trish: What’s your favourite part about conceptualizing a design?
A: Jannae: The potential of a raw sketch. We use Samsung Galaxy Notes to do our sketches.
Chantay: To see a swimsuit or cover-up go from a little digital sketch to a sample on a body, is quite amazing.
Trish: Who is one of your favourite local models to work with?
A: Chantay: Friends and family!!!!! We have a lot of beautiful friends. So every time we have a shoot it’s a lot of fun. We have yet to work with professional models.
Trish: Who are some of your favourite designers?
A: Jannae: Rachel Roy, Diane Von Furstenberg, Monique Lhuillier, Vera Wang and Tom Ford
Trish: Where do you draw inspiration from?
A: Lauren: Everywhere. Other designers, the beach, TV, currents trends, magazines, animals.
Chantay: Inspiration can be found in just about anything.
Jannae: The names of our swimsuits give a hint as to what inspired their design. Our upcoming season has swimsuits called, Goddess, Butterfly, Spider, Super girl, Old Hollywood and Island girl, so you can almost imagine what they will look like.
Trish: What are your favourite colors to work with and why?
A: Lauren: Black and White are quite the faves, we have two collections dedicated to those colors (Posh Girl and Uptown Girl).
Chantay: We love the contrast of black with cut-outs against the skin. Makes for a beautiful swimsuit.
Trish: What are your favourite fabrics to work with and why?
A: Jannae: Jersey is actually becoming a favourite it’s so versatile and breathable, feels amazing on your skin. A few of our cover ups are made from jersey
Trish: What are some of your accomplishments as designers?
A: Chantay: The fact that three young women with no technical design training, just a love for fashion makeup and jewelry could build a brand, design every item personally and have them produced is our major accomplishment.
Trish: On that note, what advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?
A: Chantay: Don’t let any negative situations or people hold you back, don’t give up, do what you love and put God first and you can’t go wrong. Also having a mentor is very helpful, someone who has been where you have been to help guide you. We have been blessed to work with Ava of Rica Swim. We would not be here today if it were not for her.
Unlike other designers who have the ‘one-size-fits-all’ model for designs, JLC Women’s designs are based on 4 different types of women:
Posh girl: Sophisticated, classy, simple, white and earth tones with hints of gold.
Uptown girl: Edgy, modern, black, chic, with silver tones.
Fluffy girl: Bold, unique, bright coloured
Downtown girl: Jamaican colors, Risqué with a bit of edge
Personally, I’m loving the ‘Uptown Girl’ and ‘Posh Girl’ lines and I for one cannot wait to see their complete swimsuit line. We wait with baited breath for that day when we can find their designs showing at Miami or New York Fashion Week or available at a major department store. But until then – you can buy their designs at jlcwomen.com