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Andrea Jahde is describing the moment she knew leather was her artistic medium. “I was in London for the summer,” she recalls. “I was studying shoe making at London College of Fashion and became obsessed. I was like, ‘This is the medium for me.’” In college, she studied Interior Architecture and Product Design at Kansas State University in a five-year program that allowed her to get both her undergraduate and graduate degree, but she knew fashion was always it for her.
“In that program, I learned furniture making, computer modeling, hand drafting, and sketching,” she says. “That was a great base for me.”Now, she’s set up shop in Charleston focusing on leather, continually expanding and trying new things with her line, Jahde Leather Atelier. Maybe you’ve been to her white house on Queen Street in the French Quarter?
Maybe you’ve wandered inside, drawn by the warm glow, on a Charleston Gallery Association art walk? I know I have. Jahde set up this white house on Queen Street as part studio, part retail space, part event space, and on a certain day this past spring it was the scene of her latest project, a collaborative photo shoot.
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This Alice in Wonderland mad tea party photoshoot has been in my brain forever. That was the initial start. My second motivation was to connect a lot of creatives in town,” explains Jahde. The thing about Charleston is you can meet one person you click with in the creative community and there can be a snowball effect.
Charleston is a bit of a literal wonderland in that sense.You could say we’re in a sweet spot, a golden age for female entrepreneurs in this city that births partnership and collaboration. How then do you bridge the gap from simply making connections to building lasting “That’s a great question because you get turned down a lot. You have to be realistic and upfront. But I think you just vibe off of people, right? When you meet someone you’re just like, ‘Okay you’re going to be great.’ Especially with the models, it’s a hit or miss thing but it turned out that everyone who came and modeled with us was perfect. They were so kind and very patient; a big shoot like this takes a lot of patience,” says Jahde.
Jahde enlisted ten models, five photographers, two bakers, a makeup artist, a hair stylist, a nail artist, a table stylist, a florist, a set designer, a taxidermist, a paper florist, someone who sourced furniture, and even made sure to have paper mushrooms made. That’s upwards of a 27-person team to pull off this dream of a shoot.
“I could list a million people who helped make it happen. It was fun because it put myself in a spot that I’m not normally in. I like to stay in my lane in a way. It was nice to meet people and be embraced while showcasing their work as well and get to know their talent,” explains Jahde. It’s not often you get together with such a wide range of artists and designers and have complete creative freedom.
One thing I’ve noticed about Jahde is she’s always willing to bring others in and always willing to support another artist. Vulnerability is a pillar of collaboration, especially when that means from.
you sometimes feel like you want to close your door and not share anything but that was an unexpected benefit.In terms of the collection, I already had the designs in mind, and I felt like it was a good way to debut the jewelry from the collection,” Jahde tells me. Her creative process is fluid; it’s hard to separate one step from the next, but she has a definite and clear beginning. “I start with the leather I already have, and I make a bigger inspiration piece to start,” says Jahde.
“This sets the tone for the new collection. I’ll take the colors of the bigger pieces and expand the full collection. We’re doing a lot of editing this season though,” says Jahde. “I love the jewelry, but I think we’ll move more into bags, travel bags, and shoes.The concept of an editorial photoshoot is ubiquitous in the fashion industry.