Some things are best unplanned. Art is one of them. And, if you're Jessica Galindo, fashion is, too.
The born and bred Las Vegan has made a career out of both. She started as a fine artist and evolved into a leather accessories designer. Zappos recently selected her as part of its Emerging Designers program, which highlights up-and-comers throughout the country. Her line, Leather Couture by Jessica Galindo, is currently available on the site and doing "really well."
Not bad for a 30-year-old designer who tripped and fell into a niche that has supported her the past three years.
While attending the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, Galindo started styling clients on the side. She assembled a look for a soap opera actress presenting at the ESPY Awards and was proud of the ensemble. Galindo decided, however, that there was one glaring void: a hot pink cuff. Rather than scour stores for what she had in mind, she did what comes naturally for an artist and got creative. She used a remnant of leather, cut it into the shape she desired, painted it hot pink and called it the crucial final touch.
Her client loved it. Her client's friends loved it. Her side work as a stylist turned into side work as an accessories designer. It was all coming to fruition the same way her fine art projects did.
"I never plan anything out," she says. "I get inspiration and then it comes out."
The cuffs make up a good chunk of the line, but she also sells bracelets ($40-$45), scarves ($250-$350) and necklaces ($65-$130) at leather-couture.com. Graffiti, stones, studs and interesting geometric shapes provide embellishment.
"They look like statement pieces," she says of many of her designs. "But, if you break them down, they're really simple."
Some pieces keep it simple from start to finish and let the leather do all the talking.
Galindo has also branched out to neckwear. Her bow ties ($90-$250) are currently sold exclusively at Stitched at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Her fashion creations begin as raw cowhide "leather remnants," a term she uses out of respect for the final product. Leather factories refer to them as "scraps," but Galindo doesn't like the connotation of that word. It implies deficiency. But, because another designer couldn't see the usefulness and beauty in a leather remnant, doesn't mean it isn't there. It just means they got too focused on their original plan for it.
Some refer to her pieces as repurposed fashion or eco-fashion. Galindo just thinks of it as resourcefulness, a trait she picked up in college, when the concept of waste hits the hardest.
As an art school student she worked at a restaurant with bare walls. After convincing owners to let her decorate them with her abstract paintings, patrons took notice. She'd mention she was the artist and wind up selling her work while waiting tables. Two incomes, one gig.
She calls herself a "fine artist at heart," emphasis on the heart. Most her work features the universal symbol for love. Bleeding hearts, graphic hearts, any type of heart. She attributes it to her unyielding romanticism. Whatever the cause, her pieces sell well at art shows, city art festivals and her fine art website, JessicaGalindo.com. The fine art supplements half her income.
The other half comes courtesy of Leather Couture, which she crafts the same way she does her art.
"(Inspiration) never starts or ends," she says. "It's just constant."
As for the future of the line, she sees herself branching into clutches and producing more neckpieces and scarves. Beyond that, Galindo hasn't made any big plans. She knows better than to do that.
Contact Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.