We had the good fortune of connecting with Jae-Zee Roth-Strong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jae-Zee, how do you think about risk?
I hadn’t truly considered all the risks I have taken in my life until I read this question and took a moment to process it.
Without risk-taking, I would not be living in America (I’m from England) and would most definitely not have my own business.
I was very determined but very shy growing up. It wasn’t until University, studying fashion design, that I took my first big risk. I signed up to work at a summer camp in America and was placed at a camp on Catalina Island. This was a HUGE decision I hadn’t even been on a plane at this point in my life! It was a decision no one saw coming but went on to be one of the best decisions I ended up making. Camp gave me confidence and experiences that have been invaluable to my life.
This would lead to many risk-taking decisions that have placed me where I am today.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I graduated with a degree in Fashion design in 2008…. It was not a great time to graduate and be trying to get your foot in the door of the fashion industry. It was unpaid internship after unpaid internship. At this point, I had worked at the camp for a couple of summers and loved it. I ended up going back to university and getting my teaching credential (teaching fashion & textile) it all lead to me getting a full-time job as a director at the summer camp. I packed up my life in England and moved to California.
I had wanted to be a fashion designer since 11 years old so it was off the path I had set for myself but it was a risk I was willing to take and ultimately lead to where I was meant to be.
After 10+ years at the camp, I decided to leave my safe full-time job and start a vintage clothing shop, The Whimsical Twin. I started The Whimsical Twin 3 years ago and it has been a crazy few years!
The last year has been one of the strangest but also rewarding of my life. When the pandemic hit I decided, very early on, to make masks. I was one of the first to offer buy one, donate one on masks, and well….the rest is history! It led to also making scrub caps and with the help of my husband (expert at putting elastic into masks now) we donated over 4000 masks/caps to essential workers.
It also led to having our masks featured in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Editorialist, and Huffpost!
I finally put my fashion degree to good use and now I have the sewing bug again. I decided to keep going and just brought out a collection! It took longer than I thought but better late than never.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Whenever I have people stay whether from home (England) or just visiting the state I take them to hike behind the Hollywood sign. A hike for all levels and such a beautiful view! I have a favourite English pub in Santa Monica, Ole kings Head I take everyone there.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This journey has been made up of many people. I, of course, start by shouting out to my family and friends that have supported me every step of the way. From moving to America to getting to the point of saying I’m going to leave my full-time job and start my own business. My Twin sister is my rock and no decision doesn’t go by her, she is supportive but also honest and we all need that person in our lives. I am also lucky to be married to someone that helps every step of the way from getting up at 4 am to help set up from markets and then go on to his full-time job to helping with some of the admin stuff. I have some real gems in my life.
Now a shout out to the community I have found through starting my business. It can be lonely when you go from a job surrounded by coworkers to being a team of one! Early on I put myself out there and I reached out to a few vintage sellers. From reaching out via social media and meeting vendors at flea markets I feel very fortunate to have found a group of great people that I consider a community!