Latoya Grindley, Staff Reporter
Kris Jackson got the perfect dose of inspiration, resurfacing from a hiatus just in time to cop this year's Heineken Inspire top award in the fashion category.
For many who don't know her that well, she is seen as a trendy and fashion-forward young woman - judged simply by her mode of dress. But for those closest to her, she is known as a creative soul, who knows how to magically take a piece of fabric and manipulate it to become a beautiful addition to any wardrobe, stunningly complementing the frame of the body that wears it. Daughter of a fashion designer and granddaughter of a tailor, Jackson has fashion and creativity running through her veins, so it should come as no surprise that she pursued designing as a career.
A graduate of Campion College, Jackson pursued advanced fashion studies at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, returning home in 2008. In an attempt to gain experience in the operations of the local fashion industry and share her knowledge with others, she then took up a job offer at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation. "I worked with the fashion department on product development and so I got a chance to work with other designers. I would also teach persons from the cottage industry ways to improve their product lines."
However, after two and a half years of doing that, she wanted to do more, and that involved focusing on her own creations and collections. To offset the expenses and the halt in her income flow, she relied on learnt skills. "Having worked at a government agency, I must say that I became well rounded. I learnt how to do event planning plus interior decorating, and so I did a bit of that to get some income coming in."
Jackson then joined forces with her current business partner, who at the time had also just resigned from his job to start his own graphic design and creative business - HeliumMedia.
They quickly formed a partnership, and while this allowed them both to exercise their creative backgrounds, which complemented the business concept, it was also another viable way to earn. However, as with most new businesses, time was of the essence and, soon, Jackson's fashion-designing career and intentions were put on pause to focus on the new revenue earner.
But the fashion designing bug did not die. In fact, it was given renewed life when she decided to launch a dress collection in 2012. "These were very clean, simple and elegant, of course with a touch of unexpectedness, and this really perfectly captures what my designs are really about." Then the big opportunity came knocking at her door, which happened to be what she really needed to claim her space in the local sphere. "The Heineken Inspire 2013 competition really nudged me. It was the perfect opportunity for me to get back into the industry and to get my name and designs out there." Admitting that it was a very hectic period from start to finish - coming with its own challenges, including the budget assigned to contestants, Jackson noted that she learnt very important and crucial lessons which reinforced that a limited budget doesn't always mean a mediocre end product. "We were to have three looks with three different individual pieces. It was really compact with a tight schedule - from having casting calls to presenting concepts and a mock-up piece, to doing the actual collection. We were given a budget of $25,000, and this was challenging. But you know what, it shows you how to make what you have work. If you can't find what you are looking for, find alternative ways to make it work and look good." Jackson said the win has put her back "into the groove of things".
"I am working on relaunching my line called 'Kris Jackson', by early next year. I hope to have a Christmas fashion show to unveil some of my pieces in time for the holidays. I am aware that time is against me, but, hopefully, it will happen."
To keep the momentum going, she also has plans for her monetary winnings, which should complement her budding career. She said that investing in equipment is high on the agenda. Jackson hopes to launch two seasonal collections per year, with options for customers to make online purchases. She is also eyeing the possibility of getting her pieces into boutiques across the island in the near future.
Still basking in her recent win, Jackson had this to share with upcoming designers: "Learn how to turn challenges into opportunities. Learn how to manipulate what you have into something you want, as not everything will be available to you for various reasons ... . With creativity you can add your own touches. For example, adding your own embellishments and dyeing fabrics, paying attention to stitching details are some of the techniques you can use as substitutes and alternatives."