Best known for the PVC stilettos winning the hearts of famous shoe lovers from Cardi B to the Kardashians, the Jessica Rich collection is affordable luxury at its buzziest. The designer spoke to us about building her eponymous brand, getting the respect she deserves and the importance of her support system.
What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur of color, and how have you overcome them?
I feel like I was one of the first to start the PVC trend, and it took so long to get the respect that I deserved. I had to get countless placements on notable people in order to get praise from others. I feel like I was overlooked and brushed off. Other people knew the quality was there, but the fact that I am an African American woman made some people decide not to take a chance on me. As a result, it took me longer to prove myself in the industry.
What does your brand stand for?
My brand stands for luxury and quality that sets the tone for any occasion. The brand prides itself on confidence and independence. For example, the ability to walk in heels builds character and a sense of self-reliance.
Tell us about the communities and collaborators in your corner.
My support system has definitely helped me through it all. The hardest thing to do as a business owner is build a strong foundation and team. For the first two years, I was doing everything on my own. As creatives, sometimes we get scared to let anyone into our space. The Jessica Rich brand would not be here if it weren't for the designers before me that I've learned from, as well as hardworking stylists, my publicist and my staff.
Your brand story is equal parts design genius and business prowess. Do you see your success coming to life without that business-savvy side?
I think it's important to have both, because it's very easy to get taken advantage of. It's one thing to have great ideas, but it's another thing to know how to create business infrastructure and to know the logistics of owning a business. There are so many moving pieces that go into building a fashion brand, such as negotiation, maintaining inventory, marketing, budgets, etc.
Describe your vision for a better future.
I want different communities around the world to continue to work together rather than working against each other. We have a long way to go, but at this point all of us have faced so many unfortunate events together. We need to step up to uplift and support one another.