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Talking fashion with Jessica Russell Flint, designer of her eponymous brand

By LLM Reporters  |  April 26, 2020
Jessica Russell Flint

Creating vibrant, unique hand illustrated prints across a range of luxury lifestyle and fashion goods, British designer Jessica Russell Flint (pictured above) uses contemporary colours and boldness combined with British heritage inspired themes to create limited edition pieces.

With the motto ‘Life in colour’ the brand, JRF, aims to make the most of life, embracing colour and thinking outside the box to produce an exciting and fresh range of clothing, accessories, homeware and sleepwear.

We spoke with Jessica to find out about her artistic roots, burgeoning brand and aspirations for JRF.

Tell us a bit about Jessica Russell Flint

JRF is a fashion and lifestyle brand with an emphasis on hand drawn print, colour and quality. I always wanted the brand to capture and convey a sense of joy and freedom that would make people happy and feel positive! 

We’ve expanded our ranges slowly to include everything from limited edition art prints, velvet cushions, vegan cosmetic bags to beautiful hand printed silk dresses, and last season we launched our sleep collections. Everything is made from brilliant materials and we strive to make sure our cuts are flattering for women of varying shapes, sizes and ages.

Montanna tile shirt dress

I started with the old cliche – drawing, working and designing from my kitchen table with my dog Betty Beagle for company at my first one bed flat in Dalston. I freelanced on the side to fund myself and the business for around two years and my boyfriend (now husband) would get enraged by the stock stored in every available spot in our tiny flat – under our bed, the sofa, on every shelf.

Slowly the business grew and I moved from the flat to a shared studio in a very cheap, but almost pitch black, freezing cold basement with no natural light, to gradually upgrading to a studio with light. I was then able to to employ my first member of staff, make the move a bigger studio, employ more staff, and then the move to where we are now.

I’ve wanted to keep to the Dalston-born roots and we now work out of a beautiful boutique, showroom and office in The Factory, part of a collective of shops and cafes in a renovated warehouse on Shacklewell Lane. We have five team members; it’s still small but growing like crazy but it’s a far cry from the days of just Betty and I.

Can you describe your style – who is the JRF woman?

A woman who is free-thinking; fashion-curious but definitely not an imperious fashion snob. Women who want to combine great cut, excellent materials with a slight twist. They are bold, independent women with a love and thirst for life!

All our prints are limited edition and hand drawn so we’re focusing on small quantities of each style and print and brilliant quality! 

What made you want to start the brand?

It was a fairly organic process, I was working in advertising for around five years after graduating and did freelance illustration and commissions on the side. I did an exhibition of my work in Clerkenwell and included some linen table napkins which I’d created for fun. The Conran store spotted the napkins and bought these and then Harrods asked me to do some Christmas designs and this lead to a range of accessories in store. 

My childhood was super creative, my mum was a designer, my dad’s family were all artists, we lived in this very cool, ancient house that my mum made so stylish despite a lack of cash, and we were surrounded by woods and fields. We children were left to our own devices and I had such a huge imagination I think it’s heavily impacted the way I see stuff. I feel I’ve always wanted to share this sort of independent thinking, imagination and quirkiness that I was so privileged to have had and I think this has how it’s emerged – as a brand!

Where do the influence for your prints come from?

I wish I could say that I’d lived somewhere exotic or far away that inspired my love for animal prints and animal drawings, but I’m afraid that’s not the case.

I grew up, as I said; surrounded by animals, the countryside and a house full of art, very little TV and definitely no video games, so imagination was everything. I just love anything that is expressive or emotive of something. I’m a people person; curious about characters and I’m constantly analysing things around me, wherever I am, and I don’t think it needs to be somewhere far-away.

I’ve always liked impressionism and the bold colours and artworks. My favourite artists are Frida Kahlo, Gauguin and Schiele.

I’m always recording things wherever I am, food labels, textures with my camera, or saving old magazines and looking at typographies and photographers on Pinterest. For example, where we live in east London, there are quite a few different ethnicities who’ve lived there through the generations; there are different tiles on walls, different prints on clothing in market places. Inspiration can come from wherever, I am a magpie.

Who are your style icons?

Bowie, Westwood and Frida Kahlo.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Having managed to grow a business over the past two years to the level it is at now, employing happy staff, whilst having two children. I had my first baby boy, Frankie in 2018 and my second baby, Celia, eight weeks ago. It has been an almost impossible mentally challenging struggle and juggle, with every waking hour a jigsaw of work and child-play – definitely still no TV for me! 

What’s in the pipeline for the future?

I need to be reigned in! There’s too much I/we want to do, so much opportunity. We are obviously working hugely on our sustainability as a company and a brand, sourcing amazing new fabrics and reducing our carbon-footprint. We are launching our first eco-beachwear range later this spring and our sustainable sleep collections later in the year too. We’re looking at ways to encourage people to recycle with the launch of our rentals programme – from our East London Boutique.