Ahead of the reality star’s brand launch, we talk business and beauty.
(LEFT) Top TOPSHOP, sunglasses GUCCI
(RIGHT) Top RIVER ISLAND dungarees MODEL’S OWN, sunglasses RAYBAN
Successfully breaking away from the restrictive shackles of (undeniably binge watched) reality TV, Jess Woodley is writing her own rules. When we meet in a quaint cafe in Notting Hill one sun-soaked afternoon, it’s evident that the aspiring designer is the sort of gal that becomes your bestie in an instant. Our hugely colloquial pre-interview convo explores our shared overly-emotional reaction to The OA (Jess even reenacts her response to the season finale), the impressive career progression of Wonderbabe Kaya Scodelario, and a complex exploration of the term “influencer.”
Since she drew a line under her time on Made In Chelsea, things have been pretty much non stop for Jess. She recently collaborated with Rimmel on a range of cute lipsticks (“I actually didn’t think it was as big as it was until I went into Boots and was like, ‘What the hell? What is my face doing there?!'”) and is on the brink of launching her own brand, Rose Collective. A collaborative project with her brother, the two were inspired following a trip to LA and seeing “skater girls and skater boys all wearing the same clothes”.
Once we’d finished dissecting the aforementioned controversial term and decided that it wasn’t the one for us, we started to find out more about the upcoming projects Jess is working on.
Dress CHRISTIAN DIOR, sunglasses CUTLER AND GROSS
So, it’s been a few months now, how are you finding life post-Made in Chelsea?
There are obviously things that you miss about the routine. We’re lucky to be doing what we’re doing – they would send us to France for three months! So, there are definitely aspects that I miss. Obviously I miss Mytton, and I miss Toff so much! But I spend time with them so it’s ok.
I loved it, I loved the experience, I just didn’t want it to be ruined. I know that when you stay on it for a long, long time, that’s when things start getting a bit tricky. So, for me, I’ve had such a fun experience; I don’t want it to go sour. So I thought, “I’m lucky enough to have this platform, I need to use it to my benefit.”
I read a few quotes where you said “The door is always open, if I wanted to go back…”
Well I would hope so! I think it is. We’ve talked a lot and I still have such a good relationship with everyone on there. It’s been such a journey! I was quite young when I got on it and I was pretty terrified to be honest. We’ve gone through quite a lot together, but there are no bad vibes. It’s only happy. So I think that if they wanted me, if I did ever want to go back, I think the door would be open.
It’s spring-boarded you to do other things too.
Yeah, it’s allowed me to actually pursue a career that I once thought I was unrealistic. I’m very grateful in that respect, but it was hard. It was very difficult; difficult and fun.
Speaking about new realms, you just did a collaboration with Rimmel. How did that about how that came about?
I met them a few years ago because they used to actually sponsor Made in Chelsea. So I met them through that and we formed a really nice relationship. It’s almost like a little family with Rimmel. When I met the girls [at Rimmel] we just clicked and have remained close. We had a big charity dinner and we were just talking at the table over a couple of drinks and said, “You know what would be good right now…if we just collaborated.” Me and the boss, Jess, just sat there speaking for an hour about what would be good and the next day she just said, “By the way, do you actually want to do this?” I was completely taken aback. I didn’t think it was as big as it was until I went into Boots and was like, “What the hell? What is my face doing there?!” It was surreal.
We had a lot of creative control so I was allowed to do a lot of the artwork. We did everything together. Usually I assume that the collaborations are a lot of business, but no, I was allowed complete input. I was overwhelmed by that too because I was like, “They actually want me as me.” I was really flattered.
(LEFT) T-shirt RIVER ISLAND, dungarees ROSE COLLECTIVE, sunglasses RAYBAN
(RIGHT) Dress CHRISTIAN DIOR, sunglasses CUTLER AND GROSS
And what has the reception been like?
It’s been good; it’s been really good. The sales are high right now, touch wood, hopefully they won’t slow down but if they do I’ll push them myself. I’m hungry. I’m very hungry, and want it to work for me as much as them. I’m literally through and through a Rimmel girl; since I was little the makeup I’ve had has been Rimmel. I had this concealer that I used, and I remember the first lipstick that my mum bought me was Rimmel. So, for me, I was just like, “Pinch me.” I want to make this work so much so that they keep me forever.
You’re currently working on your own brand, Rose Collective, tell me about this.
Me and my brother, which is really cool, have started this business! When I was in LA with the show I did quite a lot of drawing. I saw these kids that were like skater girls and skater boys that they were all wearing the same clothes. I remember being like, “That’s cool.” So I did some sketches, and we looked back at them, and he was like, “Jess, these are quite good!” So we’ve made this brand, the Rose Collective, which is very gender fluid. There are some dungarees in there now that I’m doing that are my hero product. They’re so great! I’m sure someone will come along and nick them, like the idea, which is bad because I keep putting them out there and then taking them back.
The whole thing is trial and error. I mean, we’ve started a business at a young age which is incredibly exciting and incredibly scary, but I have my brother and my family; it’s like a cool family project. We’ve got an amazing team around us and it will probably be launching in mid-September. I’m actually going to be selling them as part of a pop-up in Portobello just to see who will be buying them. I want to see, face to face, who wants Rose Collective. I want to know why they’re buying it. I want it to be a really organic thing that people can get involved in.
Aside from the pop-up, how is it going to manifest?
It’s going to be online based. I’m open to a lot of things; there are a lot of discussions going on right now, like where we’re selling it and who we’re selling it through. But right now I think it should just be personal, online, and by hand – literally me selling it by hand. I think we should just generate some hype and see who’s interested and why they’re interested.
Quirky dungarees are quite hard to pull off as well, but I think everyone can wear them. They’re just the best things in the entire world. I’ve worn them my whole life, since I was a really little girl. I really believe in slow fashion, things that you can have for like 10 years. That’s why I’m making sure that they’re perfect before I hand them out.
Talk to me about the design process.
Me and this guy called Ricky, we just sat together for maybe about six months to get these ones right. I’m really OCD about the fit of a leg. So it has taken a long time to get the fit right. It’s all about that straight leg that’s not too tight and that’s not too baggy, so getting that right was quite difficult!
So you’re a bit of a perfectionist then?
Yeah, I’m maybe a bit obsessive! But, we have great designs, and looking to expand we’ve got some amazing ideas. But right now I want everyone to be wearing these dungarees!
So what else have you got lined up that we should be excited about?
I’ve shot the next Reebok Classic Campaigns again, it’s really sick actually so people could look out for that. The shoes keep getting cooler and cooler. Obviously my [YouTube] channel is under construction; it’s going to be a lifestyle, fun, quirky little like series that I’m actually going to involve my following in and ask them where to go and what to try. I’m also going to get much more involved with beauty, working with Rimmel has really brought me into that world.
Rose Collective is coming [in] September and it’s going to be SICK. Few secret collabs to come and this is going to be the main focus of my life; a long career in fashion. I want to show girls [that] you can wear whatever you want! We are also making a short film, love poem to Wes Anderson with Rose Collective – just a really cool way to get it out there. I’m also going to pursue interviewing! I LOVE people and I want to work more with people. Potentially back to TV in that sense!
Stephanie Sian Smith
Alexandru Szabo at CAROL HAYES MANAGEMENT using BUMBLE AND BUMBLE