Overseeing the growth of her burgeoning accessories brand (and three young sons) keeps life interesting for Jessie Randall. “I try for a good work-life balance because both are so important to me,” said the Loeffler Randall designer, “but every day is pretty crazy.” This supermom’s day starts at 5:15 a.m. with the trendy Insanity Workout DVD and includes wrangling two twin boys in kindergarten and a 2-year-old, before she gets to work on her steadily expanding label. But a deep love for her family and collection is what keeps her going. “It’s not the most glamorous life in the world, but it’s a real life,” Randall declares.
Amid the hustle and bustle of New York Fashion Week, I meet up with designer Jessie Randall in her Soho showroom. The creative force behind Loeffler Randall breezes in straight from a PTA meeting at her boys’ school. Fall ’13 styles — such as a new butter-soft flat and a glitter-dusted suede sandal — line the showroom. “The shoes and handbags are growing so much. We’re in a nice spot,” Jessie says. As for what the future holds? “We would like to open our own store eventually, when the time is right.”
“I came across an image of Rosie the Riveter,” Jessie explains of the inspiration for fall ’13. “It’s a powerful idea: a woman stepping into a man’s shoes. So we feminized a lot of men’s styles. Our sweet spot is a cool, downtown look, but always with a touch of femininity.” A selection of prim pumps, ballet and pointy-toe flats, and low-heel ankle boots are still the brand’s bread and butter. “But I’m going to be living in these,” Jessie exclaims of the newly launched tailored high-tops. “The fall lookbook was one of my favorite shoots we’ve ever done. We dressed the model in denim overalls with a turban. It’s dressed-down, but elegant.”
Jessie tells me about her busy 2013 calendar. She’s looking forward to a spring-break trip to Jamaica with her family, as well as growing the brand. “We were really strategic about bringing something new to the market with the handbags. But it has exceeded our wildest dreams,” she relates. “The shoes continue to get more exciting, and I’m having a lot of fun designing four collections.” Of her husband and business partner, Brian Murphy, Jessie says, “He has amazing taste and a similar aesthetic. Or at least he understands mine.” The pair have found retail success with partners such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys and Neiman Marcus, in addition to e-commerce.
We venture out into a wintry mix to explore Purl, a craft supply store. “This is my favorite store in the whole city,” Jessie says. “They have the most beautiful raw materials and colorful displays; it’s like a candy store.” Crafting is one of her favorite pastimes, and most recently she helped her boys make Valentines for their classes that included yo-yos for the boys and barrettes for the girls (at left). “I love doing stuff like that. That’s how a day can really get away from me.”
We duck into Tucker on West Broadway, where Jessie’s collaboration with the brand’s designer, Gaby Besora, has hit shelves this spring. “I love Gaby and feel lucky to have adapted her beautiful prints to our shoes. I’ve been bugging her to do a wallpaper line so I can paper my whole house in her prints,” Jessie shares. The two have bonded over designing and also motherhood (Gaby also has three boys). “The style is very cool but also wearable, sort of effortless, so it’s a good marriage of the brands.” After picking up a perfect crop top for her upcoming Jamaica trip, Jessie chides herself: “I do damage every time I come in here.”
Jessie and I part ways as she heads back to the office to work on resort and begin thinking about spring ’14. “We always have a lot going on, from looking at sketches to meeting with the sales team, pulling inspiration, checking prototypes, fit sessions, meeting with fabric vendors or tanneries and Skyping with the factory,” she says. “We usually order lunch and work through.” And though no day for this working mom is typical, the end usually involves family time. “After work, Brian and I go home, spend time with the boys or run to see friends quickly. Then we collapse into bed.” Only occasionally can they sneak in a show (“Friday Night Lights,” “Girls,” “Homeland” and “Downton Abbey” are favorites).