Jessica Robinson is #MadeForKnoxville.
Ever since her youth, Jessica has been recognized for her fashion sense and ambition. What started as “best dressed” in high school led her to become a costume designer for a nationally touring stage play. As the co-owner of a jewelry business seeking to sell additional products, Jessica began sewing custom handbags. She took a leap of faith and was rewarded with a chance to provide an exclusive, boutique collection–she sold out almost immediately.
Jessica was born into a family of entrepreneurs, so she comes by it naturally; but that doesn’t mean her journey has been easy. She grew up watching her parents work hard; and though she has seen failure, she has learned from it, building the work ethic to pursue her dreams and see her products reach the runway in New York City. Her goal-oriented mindset allowed her to grow from a grad student, watching Youtube to learn how to use a sewing machine, to a business owner who prioritizes using her sales as a means to give back. While the pandemic threw a wrench in everyone’s plans, Jessica used that time to focus on her branding and her product, creating The Mini Clutch, Laura Faye’s staple bag. She intends to keep reaching new heights and is aiming to see Laura Faye bags in every major store in the US.
“There truly is no substitute for hard work. As a single mom, balance, discipline, and consistency have been vital to my success.”
In Their Own Words…
My name is Jessica and I’m the owner of Laura Faye, a luxury handbag company based out of Knoxville. I’m a self-taught seamstress who started this company first as a hobby in 2015, shortly after graduate school. To start, Laura is my mother’s middle name and Faye is my grandmother’s name–both women have been pivotal in providing a foundation of faith in God as I’ve been on this journey. As far back as high school (nominated for “best dressed”), I’ve always been into fashion and spent years as a fashion stylist. In 2012, I was the Costume Director for a nationally touring stage play called “In Love With Tyrone,” while simultaneously co-owning a jewelry business with a friend. Our intention was to add handbags to our line, and from there I borrowed a sewing machine from my mom’s friend, sat at my kitchen table, and used YouTube to learn how to use the machine and start sewing. The first bag I made was a green vinyl clutch. From there, I launched my first collection (using only vinyl at the time). Selling almost nothing, I honed in on my sewing skills and created collection #2, which I carried to a boutique in downtown VA Beach to see if they wanted to carry my bags. Long story short, I took a trip to NY with the owners where we picked out leather for me to create an exclusive handbag collection for their store. I finally had the courage to start working with leather and what seemed like overnight, sold out of bags that retailed for $450. That’s when I knew Laura Faye had the potential to go far. Over the years, I perfected my craft and to this day it’s thrilling for customers to be so amazed that I make (most of) my bags by hand. I’ve literally done everything myself–making bags, building my website, bookkeeping, logo design–you name it, I’ve tried to master it. I even have my 16yr old son on board, as he is my photographer and takes all of the pictures for Laura Faye.
I think it’s safe to say the pandemic was pretty life changing for all of us. I had just moved from VA back to TN in 2019 and decided to pursue Laura Faye as a full time career, and then COVID happened. I utilized the pandemic to rebrand my business logo, mission statement, etc. During that time, I created our staple bag, The Mini Clutch, which is an original design, exclusive to Laura Faye. As of Spring 2022, we now have a manufacturing company in NYC, and I had my very first NYC fashion show in June. In the next 6 months, my goal is to utilize shows like MAGIC, Atlanta Apparel, etc, in order for Laura Faye bags to be sold in major stores across the USA.
Both of my parents are entrepreneurs. My father is one of the most successful entrepreneurs I know. He started his business when I was about 6 years old and now has a multimillion dollar company. He has been so gracious to give advice and guidance on my journey. Not only that, I’ve seen him use his business to give back to people in need consistently. This has been a big reason why our mission statement at Laura Faye is as follows: “LAUFA FAYE is committed to the standard of excellence by offering luxury designer pieces that will lead to creating opportunities to bless those who are unable to help themselves.” We are a proud sponsor of the ChildFund International and a portion of every sale goes to helping children in need. My goal is to create a non-profit organization of my own in the next year to help feed, clothe, and provide clean water.
I’ve learned so much through trial and error and being self-taught but I’d say the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that no-one is coming to save you! It doesn’t matter who your parents are, who you know, or what you know–if you want something, you truly have to work for it! And if you build it, they will come. Guaranteed. I’ve taken the time to create an amazing product. Now it’s time to get in front of the audience that I have created the product for. There truly is no substitute for hard work. As a single mom, balance, discipline, and consistency have been vital to my success. As I said, I’ve seen my parents build businesses and work really hard, so I’m not one to give up easily. I know that so many great things are coming! Also, as an introvert, I’ve learned how to step outside my comfort zone and connect with people. It’s been really refreshing getting connected with the business community in Knoxville. I’ve learned that people here really want to see you succeed and that’s been a big boost to my confidence as an entrepreneur.
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