The Interview — Jessie Loeffler Randall, Founder and Creative Director of Loeffler Randall
Welcome to Talking Top 10, a recurring series in which we feature the founders, CEOs, creators, and leaders who are shaking up their industries. Ahead, read our Q&A with Jessie Randall, and keep scrolling to shop her Top 10 must-haves.
Jessie Randall is the founder and Creative Director of Loeffler Randall. She founded the company with her husband Brian in 2005 out of their garden apartment in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, naming her first pump after her chic grandmother, Harriet. Bergdorf Goodman picked up the collection the first season, and Jessie went on to win the CFDA’s Swarovski Award for Accessory Design in 2007. Loeffler Randall is currently sold in over 300 retailers worldwide and has expanded from shoes to handbags, accessories, apparel, and jewelry since launching. LR is a small, family-owned business built by and for unique, creative people.
Jessie grew up in Worcester, MA, and graduated from the University of Virginia. She and Brian now live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with their three children: Casper, Clementine, and Harry. In her spare time, Jessie likes to write, read, and learn new craft skills like sewing and knitting. Follow Jessie on Instagram for more info, and be sure to follow Loeffler Randall while you're at it.
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Tell us about how Loeffler Randall got its start. Was becoming a designer always the dream?
I founded Loeffler Randall with my husband, Brian, a little over 15 years ago now. We met working in advertising, but I have always had a deep love of fashion and decided to go back to school to study design shortly after we met. The process of crafting and making things is something that I love—it’s what inspired me to change course at the time and what still inspires us to this day as we design our collections. I’ve also always had a passion for shoes, so after a few years designing handbags for other brands, Brian and I decided to take the leap and start a label together. We were very lucky to sell to Bergdorf Goodman our first season. Now, years later, we are so pleased with the brand’s success. I love designing the things I want to have in my own wardrobe each season.
Given that your business partner and CEO is also your husband, what does work-life balance look like to you?
It’s not always easy, but we’ve found a balance that works for us. One important thing is not to talk about work outside of work! Brian is an entrepreneur and more naturally optimistic than I am. I’m generally more rational and risk-averse. I think our differences are what makes the partnership work. Brian is able to be tougher than I am in a lot of situations, but in times when he’s less strong, I’m able to step up and make hard decisions. We’re good at dividing and conquering. I always say that without Brian, I’d be hand-making shoes in my kitchen—he’s the one who has the big business drive and mindset, and I’m the one that helps to make the product special.
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What inspires your design process?
I find inspiration everywhere! I especially love to travel, and this year, I visited Oaxaca and Marrakech to get inspired. I like to work on craft projects, and I spend time writing to be creative in a way that’s outside of my job.
Can you walk us through a typical workday?
Every day is different, depending on the calendar. Mostly I am working with my team, making decisions, choosing raw materials, and thinking of new ideas. I like to try to get out of the office when I can to visit an exhibit or get out in the sunshine for a bit. Sometimes the best ideas happen outside of the office for me.
Which Loeffler Randall design would you say best represents the brand?
At the moment, I would say our Penny pleated family. It’s such a signature style for us. There are over 400 pleats on each pair. This design speaks to a lot of the signatures of our brand, from the attention to craftsmanship to the distinctive and feminine detailing, the comfort, versatility, and wearability of the shoes.
Have you ever had a major fan-girl moment after seeing a celeb with one of your designs? Who was it?
I once got to meet Roz Chast, and she wore my shoes, and that was pretty amazing because I’m a big fan. Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones wore our shoes to her wedding this summer, so that was a pretty big deal too! But I feel the most pride when someone I know and whose style I admire wears our products. I was just on vacation in Jamaica, and so many women were wearing LR designs, and I loved seeing that.
What pair of shoes will you never part with?
I don’t know. I always have a ton of LR pairs in rotation.
Which Loeffler Randall handbag would we most likely catch you carrying and what’s the weirdest thing in it?
Lately, I’m carrying our ruffle nylon tote in leopard. It’s a great bag to schlep stuff around in. At the moment, a weird thing I have in my bag is the thank you notes my kids wrote for their Christmas gifts that I need to mail.
Where are your favorite spots in Brooklyn and Soho?
I love Purl in Soho and Clic Gallery, too. Both are such inspiring places. In Brooklyn, I’m a big homebody and love my local restaurants Couleur Café and Fonda. For shopping, I love Bird, and I recently discovered a home store in Greenpoint that’s so great called Home of the Brave.
What’s next for Loeffler Randall? Any exciting collections in the works?
Stay tuned—we have lots of exciting news this year!