During our visit in San Francisco, we took a field trip to the Mission District to catch up with Jennie Lennick, designer and founder of the linen brand, Jenny Lemons. It was such an amazing treat to spend the afternoon with her, chatting about her history, San Francisco, and her love for linen. Meet Jennie!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
Jenny Lemons is a play on my birth name, Jennie Lennick. Years ago, a friend called me Jenny Lemons, and it stuck! I’ve used it as a pseudonym for various projects like when I was a radio DJ in college (DJ Jenny Lemons!) and when I started my business, the name choice was obvious.
What do you love most about textiles? On the opposite side of the spectrum, what are the challenges when it comes to working with fabrics?
I am an extremely tactile person. I love how a beautiful textile feels and how it can transform your mood when you wear it. The challenge for me is that my background is not in fashion! I learned how to sew 25 years ago as a child, and have been obsessed ever since. I ended up studying art in college, eventually getting an MFA in painting but doing a lot of embroidery, costume construction, and fabric sculptures along the way. Maneuvering patterning making, sourcing fabrics, acquiring industrial equipment, and constructing garments have been the biggest hurdles for me. My garments have limited sizes and are really simple silhouettes because my goal is to create wearable paintings made of super nice fabric that will make my customer feel really good!
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
If you want to start a business, say goodbye to your free time! I quit my day job in January and since then I feel like all I do is run Jenny Lemons. Every day I get to see my dreams become more and more of a reality. It’s incredibly rewarding, but I really miss spending weekends at home and nights out with my friends and family. However, I don’t regret a thing! I believe that if I put in lots of hard work and time now, my business will continue to grow.
What has been your proudest moment since creating your business?
I have so many! I love it when I tell someone I’ve just met about my business and they say “Oh! I know Jenny Lemons!” It feels so great when a customer introduces themselves to me and tells me they bought one of my pieces for a friend or received one as a gift. I just love connecting with people through beauty, fun, and community!
Where do you want your business to be in 5 years?
In five years (preferably sooner!) I’d like to have all my garments sewn for me in San Francisco-based factories. Then I could have a beautiful printing and painting studio in which I would employ artists to work alongside me customizing all the fabrics. I am currently looking for a larger studio space so I can scale my business, buy new equipment, and host workshops and events to engage my community and teach others.
What is the most important thing you do daily for your business?
Everyday I make a point to post on Instagram. I think it’s super important to market my business and engage with my followers. I sincerely enjoy sharing my work and getting instant feedback! I’ve designed products (and killed others) based on the response they get on social media.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Show up! I have a strict 9-5 working schedule. If you aren’t able to work all day, set aside some time everyday to focus on your business. Get some education when you feel overwhelmed. If you’re in the Bay Area, check out resources like Sfmade, Bay Area Made. or the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center. Write a business plan and create a support group of other makers.
What are some inspirations for your work?
I am really inspired by the lifestyle and beauty of Northern California and the West Coast. When I started Jenny Lemons, I made prints of ONLY fruits and foods. Eventually I felt really creatively restricted and decided to try some other imagery. It has been really exciting to create new prints based on modern art, abstract imagery, and botanical patterns. I align my business with the slow fashion and eco fashion movement.
If you could learn any other craft, what would it be?
I would LOVE to dive deeper into metalsmithing/jewelry making. I took a one evening workshop at WorkshopSF from the jeweler Chen Blum and it was so fun!
When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?
I love to take my dog to the beach. I think it’s emotionally healing for the both of us to walk by the ocean and jump in the waves.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
There is a super supportive maker/designer community in San Francisco. We are always looking out for each other and sharing tips, tricks, and opportunities. The city itself is also so beautiful, with it’s misty cool weather and pastel hues- my garments are made for this city!
What is your favorite part of your studio/workspace?
My sewing corner is definitely my favorite! All my supplies are really organized and easily accessible. I have two industrial sewing machines that have changed my business- they help me make my products much faster and at a higher quality.
What is the latest project you’re working on?
I am working on new patterns for fall and winter including a kimono jacket, pants, and a wrap skirt. I’m also making a new dress pattern with ¾ length sleeves. The concept for my next collection is to offer some staple pieces to pair with my colorful block printed tops! Stay tuned!