I am very privileged to be able to interview a longtime virtual friend, Rachel Jensen. She´s the designer and owner of online boutique, Jensen Sartoria. She first captivated my interest through her beautiful photos, outstanding style and fabulous adventures that she shares at her blog, Da Paura. By reading her blog for years, I felt like I´ve been to Italy. She introduced me to the many wonderful views and attractions of the country. But what really made me stick as a reader of her blog, is her friendly, down-to-earth personality.
Today, I introduce her to you. I´m certain that like me, you will enjoy this interview.
Tell us a little about you.
I have lived all over the USA and around the world. I find that travel and moving can be challenging, but broadens the scope of one’s horizon’s and wakes up a small-minded mentality to a new understanding of the world and the people in it. All of the experiences have helped shape me into who I am today.
What inspired you to become a fashion designer?
I have always loved style, even as a little girl. I was very opinionated even at a young age about my clothing choices. When I met my husband, we discovered that we both love to dress well, and with our tastes merging into one, our passion and belief that we can actually accomplish something in this area gave us the motivations to try.
Did you start out by studying fashion in college? If yes, which school did you go and why did you choose it?
I did not study fashion in college. I studied communication. Music was my main passion at the time.
Did you intern in any fashion house? If yes, how was it like?
I did not intern at a fashion house. Rather I accompanied and modeled for a fashion coordinator in Rome, Italy. This is a fashion event planner who coordinates fashion shows in Paris, Rome, and Milan. I had the amazing opportunity to model for her fashion shows in Rome. I also helped her coordinate other shows. The majority of my time was spent at a bespoke haute couture school where my husband learned the art of custom handmade tailoring. I helped as a tutorial model and a fit model.
What inspires your designs?
Music, travel, love, art, history. It is my belief that all of the arts are intertwined. I grew up singing on stage, performing, and I took professional voice lessons for 7 years. Music has been a big inspiration in my life, and actually was one of the very first areas where I drew inspirations for my designs. Life in Italy, with incredible historical and artistic architecture on every corner could not NOT influence my designs.
What was your first ever design and when did you create it?
My first design was a green plaid dress, created in 2006.
Of all your creations, there will always be a darling. Which of your designs is your most favorite? Why?
I honestly do not have a favourite yet. I love them all, and feel they get better and better with each design. I feel the sky is the limit for the future!
What sets your clothes apart from others?
Jensen Sartoria is the very first bespoke husband/wife team, innovatively bringing old-world traditional tailoring to a new generation of stylishly aware men and women. No two bodies are shaped the same, and off the rack sizes vary for every single person. Here, we draft a personal pattern for each client to ensure the best fit possible. Each piece is hand-labored in house with thousands of stitches per garment. There is no factory involved and very little machine. We specialize in elite personal attention to each client’s custom needs.
You´re a designer and your husband is a craftsman tailor. Tell us about your partnership.
My husband specializes in men’s suits, which can only be made through personal fittings. We would like to open up the idea of bespoke and custom to the women’s world. I have seen first-hand what a difference a custom garment can make in the way I feel! My designs are brought to life by my husband’s skill and craftsmanship. We started an Etsy shop with some of my designs – which are made to measure for women. This is the first step toward what we are striving to accomplish. Our hope is to open a shop in which women can receive the same custom experience that men receive for suits. However a selection of my designs will most likely receive a place as display items on mannequins and will be a limited collection of “off-the-rack” garments available for purchase.
You and your husband lived in Italy for 2 years where he pursued training from a famous Italian Maestro. How did your adventure in Italy help you grow as a designer?
I have become more aware of cultures, people, and have overcome some intense and unique challenges as a result of doing something drastic to follow my dreams. My husband and I sold all of our belongings and threw caution to the wind to achieve something together. At the end of the day, we have each other and that is the most important aspect. Eric and I grew as a team so strongly, that our experiences together have accelerated our motivation and strengthened our passions. With the cultural experience as well as the challenge of learning a new language, I believe all of these aspects collectively allow me to grow as a designer.
What were the biggest stumbling blocks that you had to deal with as an upcoming designer?
I am not a typical designer. I do style more than fashion. I do not follow trends of the moment, nor do I try to alter my designs to fit a look of the moment. So so many people, especially the younger generations, are becoming more and more aware of where products come from – whether food, clothing, or anything else. There is a movement of disdain for a mass-produced economy. It is a well-known fact that most fashion is mass-produced in factories without the personal touch of a custom experience. The biggest challenge is to be the bridge and the lightbulb in allowing a new generation to understand what bespoke is all about – and how it equates with better quality.
What qualities does a designer need to have?
For me, the answer is: passion, an artistic eye, dedication, and a team-mate. Personally, I could not do it without my husband and best friend.
You have an online boutique where you sell custom clothing for women. You are also preparing for the launch of another online boutique for men. What other plans for growth do you have?
Well, not quite. We are planning to launch a website shortly but it is not an “online boutique for men.” Men’s bespoke suits are too involved to be sold online, and personal fittings are necessary. So the website will be information of who we are as well as contact information for inquiries. We will include women’s as well, as it will be our base website. It will have a link to our Etsy boutique for women as you have stated – which are items we feel are feasible to be made to measure without fittings.
You were the cover girl for the Paris-based publication Belle Inspiration Magazine´s very first issue. And very recently, you modeled in a shoot for the holiday issue of the same magazine. Do you have plans of pursuing modeling career?
Thank you, yes it was very exciting to be the cover girl for a print publication such as Belle. I have done some runway modeling in Rome, California, as well as a few other print jobs. I have also been featured on TV as a spokesmodel for a few European brands. It is fun and something I definitely enjoy. Although I am not tall enough to be a professional runway model, I would be more than happy to pursue more modeling should the opportunity arise. Meanwhile, I do model all of our own clothing at Jensen.
You´re a designer, a blogger, a contributor to Belle Inspiration Magazine and a model in the making. You also manage your online shop and you are a wife. How do you juggle everything?
Thank you, it is definitely a busy time. I believe it is dedication and love that allows me to juggle it all. With my husband as my biggest supporter, and since we are on the same team with the same goals in life, the impossible becomes possible. My faith also allows me to stay sane and realize that my own personal glory is not what really matters in this world.
What can you say to women who are experimenting with their hair and style? What makes a woman stylish?
My personal taste is classic with a bit of a modern edge. To me, vintage is awesome but does not completely work on it’s own. To be reinvented is very important, we must change with the times. To dress 100% vintage or classic would make us look like we are wearing a costume. So I would say to shoot for classic and simple, with a hint of unique…modernity, or something a bit different.
Photography – Leetal Photo
Jewelry – Ayana Designs
Cashmere Shorts – Jensen Fashion