Honoring your own voice amid the massive amount of information, possibilities and naysayers coming at you in life, as Jesse so clearly does both in spite of and reinforced by the “foggy” turns on her path, is praiseworthy. “People who flip through magazines and wear what they are supposed to be wearing, whether a certain color nail polish or lipstick or the length of a hemline,” are not inspiring to her, she says. Though statuesque herself – in or out of the vintage Norma Kamali pumps that she’s had for so long that no longer knows where she got them and wears with a black leather pencil skirt and a classically unassuming white knot top of her own design – she looks up to her husband of seven years, who has chosen a life that enables him to surf from nine to four on a day with a “good swell” in the water after making breakfast for their son, later teaching private lessons in math and science to high school kids.
Jesse wears an exquisite, understated wedding ring from her husband’s family that survived the Holocaust. Together, they drive vintage Mercedes that run on vegetable oil, grow their own organic food and when Jesse had her son, they retreated from West Hollywood to a cabin in the woods of Texas for eight months, where the only action going on outside of their family bonding consisted of four goats in a pasture. “I had this intense voice in my head to retreat, go away. Get in a cave,” Jesse explains. The feeling of their convivial escape seems not so different from Jesse’s picturesque and tender childhood in a tiny town in the middle of the cornfields of Illinois, where her artistic parents were into macrobiotics and fires at night in the center of the living room of their solar heated house that her dad built himself.
Just as Jesse prefers to wear her clothes backwards and now makes them look as though they are, she refused to play the predictable game with modeling and quit while suffering from an eating disorder that she attributes to the skewed values of the business. While in that period of “hiding,” where she bravely admits that she had to relearn how to eat an ice cream cone, Jesse started drawing, sketching and discovering what has now become her career as a fashion designer of collections that are handmade, from the print on the fabric to the finished garment. Her entire business is socially and enviornmentally sustainable and done on a small scale in LA in an attempt to lower global impact, not because she set out to make it that way but because it’s how she lives her life. Gently commanding in denim cutoffs, Bottega Veneta loafers and a captain’s uniform blazer, Jesse feels of life and the planet that, “Like The Boy Scouts, you come in, leave as little mess… and leave it better than you had before, something like that.”