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JESSICA RICH | YOUR FAVORITE CELEBRITY’S FAVORITE SHOE DESIGNER

January 8, 2021

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

Jessica Rich is here to inspire the masses: letting them know that if she can do it, they can too. Your favorite celebrity’s favorite shoe designer, the Grand Rapids, Michigan native always knew she was going to be somebody famous, but could hardly anticipate what she has in store for her today. From designing and shipping shoes from her bedroom apartment in New York to now having a thriving business under her own name… Jessica’s journey is for motivational purposes only.

Fast forward to 2020, the extremely hard-working, passionate, boss babe/entrepreneur celebrates opening her newest store in the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, in the same vicinity as high-end designers such as Fendi and Burberry. To date, her shoes and clothing have been worn by A-listers from Cardi B and Normani to Kylie Jenner and Jennifer Lopez… with her signature, clear, PVC heels that shoe-lovers can’t get enough of. Following her RICH BASICS collection consisting of luxury basics including satin robes, bodysuits, and two-piece sets with tops and bottoms, Jessica returns with her newest style: The Mesh Stiletto. Having worn high heels since high school, Jess has her ear to the streets in the fashion world, constantly evolving and coming up with new ideas that set her products apart from the rest.

Flaunt caught up with Jessica at her store in the Beverly Center, who had just wrapped up a transaction with two satisfied customers. Read below as we discuss the launch of her brand in 2015, her new store in Beverly Center, transitioning from reality TV, her new Mesh Stilettos, her design process, how the pandemic has affected her positively, Cardi B rocking her shoes, goals, and landing in Nordstrom.


Talk about expanding from Melrose to your own store at Beverly Center, next to Burberry and Fendi! How does that feel? 

It’s amazing. I started online inside of my house. I never anticipated opening a store, I was always passionate about fashion so I knew I’d be working in this industry. I’ve worked so hard day and night for the past 5 years since I first launched the Jessica Rich brand in 2015. Overall, it’s a blessing to be able to open a new store during these crazy times we’re living in.

 What was the reality of getting your business going?

I was in my house, shipping for 2 years alone by myself. Did all of my own PR, my own shipping, all my own customer service. I didn’t trust anyone to do anything because I knew how strong my contacts were. To pay for someone to take them, I was scared to have any staff. I transitioned into shipping shoes out. I remember sitting there looking, how am I going to do all these shoes by myself? I started looking on Instagram for interns. I moved all my stuff downtown, had an office there for 6 months. My friend was a realtor and said “Jessica, Sorella Boutique is moving next door and getting rid of their place. I said “I love that store; how much is it?” $7K a month. That’s so much money, but I went and I loved it.

I put my first month’s deposit down but I was also scared. I’m making money, but what if I don’t make $7K? My mom said “no Jess, if you don’t try it, you’re going to always wonder.” Whatever store moves in, “oh that could’ve been my store.” She’s right, so I said fine. I started the store,  hired staff. I was happy then started noticing my second year there, it’s mostly streetwear brands like Cool Kicks kids. The girl that knew me would come in, but the person walking by: “$200? I’m not paying that.” Where else could I go? I contacted the Beverly Center last summer. I looked back and searched the email, but I didn’t respond to her. [gasps] This is the same woman I was talking to. I dropped the ball; I could’ve been there last summer. This store wasn’t available last summer, everything happens for a reason.

 

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You’ve been in LA for 11 years; did you think you’d be where you are today?

No, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. All I know is that in my high school years, whatever I was doing, I had to be known for it. I stood out all the time, but I didn’t try. My mom said you are not meant to blend in.

You loved reality TV?

My first career move was a dating show on VH1 in 2008.

I’m pitching a show right now about my life called BOSS AF. I currently have episodes streaming on IGTV, and it follows the ups & downs of what I go through.

It makes sense, that’s my thing. When I started doing shoes and clothing, this works because I’m me. My goal growing up was to get paid for being me. Lala Anthony was a great host that I enjoyed watching coming up in the industry. I was trying to do hosting for a long time. I did a couple of shows, E News, KTLA, Access Hollywood & a few more. I was doing styling, interior decorating, everything that had to do with fashion already. I love it, this is my niche. I gave Keyshia Cole shoes for her singing battle today, I grew up listening to her. I’ve known Keyshia for years, she’s always supported me. When I started giving celebs my stuff, I will think to myself I used to listen to these artists as a kid. I remember Toni Braxton wore my shoes to the AMA carpet, I was mesmerized.

How did that happen?

It’s contact, it’s about who you know. I’ve been very intentional with the rooms that I’ve been in over the years and make effort with nurturing my relationships.

So you do brand development?

That’s my best quality launching a brand. I can literally work with a brand and help them get started within the first 6 months. My PR firm is called who you know PR.

How did you apply that to your own brand?

I’ve studied brands and have done marketing analysis and audits to see what they did right and did wrong. I figured out what my “ideal customer” would look like and incorporated my research into my own brand.

 

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Talk about your new collection, Mesh Stilettos. 

In my mind, I’m always trying to top my Fancy stilettos. I’m thankful for that shoe, but I need to have something out just as good. Me being a designer, I know that the PVC is still a trend, but I’m no longer going to do it. It’s been done, it’s saturated and has been copied so many times.

I put out the first non-PVC shoe, great reaction. Going into the new year, I need something just as powerful and impactful & it worked.

How do you get so creative? You go online and research and things come to your head?

Everywhere I go I look at people’s feet to see what they’re wearing. It helps to get my creative wheels going. I draw my own sketches and find different materials and fabrics I like; I try not to think too much about it. At the beginning, it was so hard for me. It’s funny that now it’s so easy.

How quick are you able to bring it to life?

It really depends! It doesn’t take as long as people think, I get samples made, then finalize the finishing product. But it’s one thing to have the final product but another thing to plan a release rollout going into a new collection. You have to think about marketing, product shots, etc.

What celebrity are you most excited for to have worn your shoes?

Every celeb I am excited about! It is hard to get placed knowing they have so many options. So, I am blessed to get continued support from everyone. When I first started my online store, my clothing was stocked in DASH, that was a big deal. I walked in and saw my brand amongst everyone else like Lululemon, it was pretty cool.

Is it like one out of a million?

Are you serious? Kylie has her closet on Youtube, I saw my shoes in her glass case. 100 shoes and you see Jessica Rich pair, crazy. It’s love.

How much persistence and consistency is needed in this industry?

Last year was my strongest fourth quarter in my career. I hit Fashion Week FW2019 with J Lo wearing my shoes 3 days in a row. Even with COVID, I’m still dropping stuff off to stylists in case there’s doing photoshoots. Cardi wore me this summer. That was a blessing. She was in the middle of the pool in her swimsuit & my shoes. I love Cardi and her team, she always shows love and continues to support the brand.

How did it get to Cardi B?

Through her stylist. Stylists always say “I like your brand because you’re not trying to be anyone else. You’re not trying to be any of the bigger brands. You stay at your price point; you stay in your lane.” That’s why I’m successful because I’m not raising my prices to $800. Once I do that, I’m now taking away half of my customers. The girl that comes in buys 2 pairs of shoes at a time. I rather keep that consistency instead of the one-offs.

How did you determine your price point?

I wanted it to be luxury, but also reasonable especially the world we’re living in. My quality and durability is there, my first shoe was started at $195.

When I released the mesh, I went back and forth for 24 hours with my staff. Does this sound okay? Do you think this is too much? It’s COVID, should I go lighter? I changed it 3 times in one day

 

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What celebrity are you most excited for to have worn your shoes?

Kylie Jenner and J Lo because they’re so hard to get to, even with all the relationships that I have. My clothing line was stocked in Dash, that was a big deal because I was pounding Kris Jenner for 4 years. When I started, I was too new for her to take me on. After years of proving my brand, she’s like “okay we’ll look at the line sheet.” She saw the line sheet and said “we’ll order for Miami, New York and LA.” I got a check from Dash, holy fuck. I walked in and saw my brand amongst everyone else like Lululemon, it’s pretty cool. Whenever I have something, I send it to them. You pray to God they wear it.

Is it like one out of a million?

Are you serious? Kylie has her closet on Youtube, I see my shoes in her glass case. 100 shoes and you see Jessica Rich pair, crazy. It’s love.

How much persistence and consistency is needed in this industry?

Omg, every day. Last year was my strongest fourth quarter in my career. I hit Fashion Week with J Lo wearing my shoes 3 days in a row. I’m constantly still sending stuff. Even with Covid, I’m still dropping stuff off to stylists in case there’s doing photoshoots. Cardi rocking me the entire summer in pictures, that really got me through Covid. She’s in the middle of the pool in her swimsuit and my shoes. I love Cardi and her team, she always shows love and continues to support me and the brand.

 

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Goals for yourself at this point of your career?

My goal in life now is to relax and just be happy. I love where I am but at this point, I’m tired. I was up until 4am in a meeting for 10 hours with my factory and team. Money’s not the goal anymore. I want to travel and spend time with my family and be more present with people in my life. I haven’t seen my dad all year, he’s in Philly. He’s 62, he had prostate cancer but in remission. I thought I could relax at the end of the year, but I just got into A few big retailers. I’m beyond excited for this new chapter of my career. So relaxing isn’t happening too soon.

Do you pray every day?

Every morning as soon as I wake up. My prayers have changed so much throughout the years. When I was in my 20’s I would say “Lord please let me have this and this” Like goals and material things. Now I pray more about good health and keeping me safe & protect myself & my family to and from wherever we go. God knows what can happen in this crazy world. I thank him every day for all the blessings. I can’t even ask for more. I’m happy. A husband would be nice next.

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