In a few words.
It may seem like a counterintuitive beginning for a designer. Jessica Rusch grew up in rural Wisconsin, in a modest log cabin built by her family and their friends.
Jessica found creative inspiration in her mother and fathers’ vinyl record collection, and in the high-fashion magazines that came in the mail. By the time she started high school, hundreds of neatly stacked fashion magazines lined the bedroom she shared with her sister.
At eighteen, Jessica moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where she went to college and was mentored by the owners of Bop (now Shopbop), at the time a bourgeoning brick and mortar. It was there that she cut her teeth in sales, as a general manager, a buyer and as a model.
It was her love of music (and serendipity in the form of a snow storm and touring musicians) that brought Jessica to Austin. Her fashion trajectory continued at the city’s most prominent store, By George. Her geographic trajectory included a globetrotting job with the antique jewelry shop Bell and Bird. She was simultaneously making one-of-a-kind accessories that were timeless, personal, and versatile, incorporating objects and design elements she discovered on her travels.
Symbolic tokens of our mortality, Memento Mori Themed Skulls appear in several of Jessica’s signature lines. She began incorporating them into her work ten years ago after her fight against a rare form of cancer, followed by an equally debilitating autoimmune disease. Jessica wears them to remind her of that difficult chapter in her life and, most important, to live life to the fullest. She hopes those who wear them will be reminded to do the same.
Today, a rural earnestness, vintage trade beads, vinyl records, and hand-braided leather are staples in her designs, along with other materials as unorthodox as her childhood. Her work
reflects a distinct urban sensibility cultivated far outside the boarders of a small town.
The transition from pastime to fashion line was an organic one. Jessica wore her handmade jewelry and leather bags, strangers wanted them, commissioned pieces, and JESSY MADE was born.