We had the good fortune of connecting with Jackie Robbins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jackie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
According to my parents I talked about being an ‘Artist’ from as early as 5 years old. I didn’t know what an artist was really, but I seem to have come into life ‘knowing’ that. Next I began, as most children do, to color with crayons and developed the desire to paint, and because of my intense interest was provided with these materials. By the time I was in elementary school, my teachers were informing my parents that I was clearly talented in the arts and that if possible I should be supported with extra curricular activites, which I was blessed to receive. I became a prized student at the Chouniard Art Institute in Los Angeles, being the youngest person ever enrolled in Saturday life drawing classes at 11 years old. My Grandmother had created a ‘Knit Shop’ (also in Los Angeles) featuring her own designs but also focusing on teaching knitting and creating custom patterns for her patrons in the 1940’s. This business well-supported her and her 2 young daughters after her husband died at the tender age of 30-something to well through her middle age. My Mother, after marriage and having 2 daughters also worked in this business part-time while raising my Sister and I. I spent time there after school helping. I became very interested in Fashion as soon as I reached my teenage years. I was heartily encouraged by my Mother to make my own clothes, which I became quite passionate about. I mention this first because I feel that I had a high confidence level as a child to express my creativity and I believe this confidence and some experience in my family’s business, led me to not question the idea that I could succeed in an artistic career that included opening my first business at 22 years old, my boutique, Leather Waves in 1975, in Malibu, where I moved to and have spent my life. I produced couture level fashion, specializing in Leather and Suede, handmaking all my own product personally, working with each patron on a ‘custom order’ basis, handling all my business affairs (leases on retail space, negotiating rates, etc.), all the marketing, including photographic images and live fashion showings, creating the spaces, buying raw materials, follow-through of customer satisfaction and continued re-invention of my craft for 45 years so far. In 2020, I started a new venture, the Jackie Robbins Studio, an online Fine Art Originals and Photographic Print Gallery. At my current age of 68 I feel a passionate pull towards my roots. I want to seriously enter the fine art ‘market’ and leave open to view and to work fervently towards increasing my portfolio of artworks that I’ve never stopped making during my life and sharing them with the greater global audience that I’m striving to create in our new technological world. I’ve left out a lot here regarding the many steps taken to achieve these goals, but hopefully you the reader can ascertain my thought process in broad strokes.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a creative I’m always searching for inspiration. Why, because inspiration is at the base of my motivation. My art is spontaneous mostly, so I’ve learned to have raw materials on hand, I shop and look for materials always, regularly and with passion for my next projects. My point of view is probably that which sets me apart from others. I think I mostly recreate my own experiences, and my end-product is like a self portrait in almost every case. I love light, nature, colors, textures, grains, weaves, angles, fit, interpretations. I’m unafraid to pivot and try a new approach, technique or invention just to see what I can do…. that keep me excited about the process. I’m a finisher, I take great pride in completion and doing the best job I can possibly do…I even dream about my process when I get stuck and find revelations therein. I believe most of my success relies on authentic communication about who I am, taking the time to listen to and understand the person(s) I’m attempting to work with and the guarantees I feel confident giving that my patrons will not be disappointed. I think my ability to perform well is evident in my personal integrity and reputation amongst my community of followers, and ultimately in my numerous ‘wins’ that comprise my long career. Not always about money but definitely about the happiness I can give to others. I got to where I am today by believing in myself. That’s not always a given or easy to achieve but possible if one can embrace life’s temporary setbacks and failures, I find that these two are wonderful teachers along the path to success.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I always take my friends to places that I love to go to. The beach is never unsatisfying for me, some have better waves for surfing, some have better stretches for walking and riding and there are those that are so perfect for photographs especially at the best time of day when the lighting is perfect. I love all the art museums and galleries in LA. When the pandemic ends and we can go again, I’ll always be going to see the work of my favorite artists and learn about the work I never knew about before, often I will come home very inspired. Home cooked meals with healthy clean ingredients is my favorite place to eat, but the ambiance of various restaurants and the specialties they serve is definitely a satisfying experience for a special occassion. Not being a ‘drinker’ I do not go out just to drink, but a pairing of the right wine or cocktail with a certain meal is always fun. One of my favorite short trips is a drive north up the coast of California, endlessly fascinating and beautiful, never fails to fill me in awe and wonder. I never tire of that experience.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Mother & Father, who fostered and supported my love of art and fashion as a growing child, All of my art teachers and professionals whose workshops and classes I learned my artistic skills from, My family who taught me the work ethic, Fred Segal who recognized my talent, rented me my business space at the Malibu Country Mart when I had zero experience as a business woman and mentored me in the retail fashion business, John and Zelma Swanson who sold me their property in Malibu, All the Patrons of my work who believed in my talent and wanted to wear and purchase my Leather Waves, Everyone who enjoys my art, likes, loves, follows, shares, collects and hangs my work.
Website: www.jackierobbinsstudio.com and www.leatherwaves.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/jackie.robbins.studio.malibu/ and www.instagram.com/leather.waves.malibu.ca/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jackie.robbins.studio and www.facebook.com/leatherwaves