We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Hickerson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I have always believed in the idea that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” A concept that does not naturally fit into a small business trying to make a name for itself, however it has been the key to the success of Esplanade Brand. “Esplanade” started out as a way for me to celebrate my community of the South Bay of Los Angeles. Its a small beach town in the middle of a big city where people still appreciate long walks on the beach, seeing a familiar face every time you’re out, and taking a sick day when the surf is too good to pass us. Back in 2016 the majority of my orders were from friends and family, then it started to grow to friends of friends, and eventually complete strangers were placing orders. It was a fun year of a lot of learning but eventually I decided to take a break and close down my site since I was a new mom that already owned a full time photography business. Enter a pandemic and a world that’s suddenly missing “joy.” Now I’m a mother of two keeping busy with chalk art, endless snacks, and working from home. I start to feel to pull to design again, missing the beach while it was closed to the public, and daydreaming about what Esplanade would look like in 2020. I share some ideas on social media, and am surprised to find that people remember my little brand and miss it too. And then I find myself immersed in it once again, this time for the long haul. All of my designs are inspired by life in the South Bay, which instantly caught the attention of our community. With our commitment to eco-friendly production, designing and printing all products locally, and donating a portion of each sale to a local charity (the Marine Mammal Care Center,) our “tide” rose quickly. In the first couple of months of re-opening, our sales were growing every week, I was reaching out to local boutiques seeing how we can work together, and bringing on brand reps to spread the word about Esplanade. The timing was perfect for us with everyone so focused on supporting small business, lifting us up, and together we have been able to find joy together. One of my favorite things we have started doing is Scavenger hunts around the South Bay where we share clues on Instagram for people to find free products we hide. The success of Esplanade comes directly from the community we built around us. When we grow, we have more business for our local printers, and more products to offer our stockists. Then we can have more scavenger hunts and giveaways, or any other fun things we can think of to spread some joy! Through Esplanade I also started hosting Pop Up Markets for local businesses, artists and makers. During the holiday season my customers were asking for a way to shop all of our products in person, so I invited other local business owners to create the first market with me in December 2020. Now it has become its own brand called “Sun and Sea Collective” with markets taking place every month. Once again the tide that lifted Esplanade is working to lift others around us- I cannot wait to see how much we can all grow together in 2021.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I have always been a self-starter. In fact I have not had a “real” job or boss since I graduated college because I have been too busy starting businesses. At 19 I started a photography businesses that was making 5 figures in the first year and has continued to grow for 8 years. While running my business I also started photography education and social media consulting. In everything I do, I work incredibly hard and give 110% of myself, even when I have no idea what I am doing and need to make it up as I go. (See: home and vintage trailer renovations) One thing that I have learned is that it is okay to ask for help when you need it, AND it is also okay to share everything you know with others who might need help. There should be no secrets in the success of a business because no one can ever replicate you & your personal brand.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If we were feeling extra adventurous, a road trip to Big Sur or Joshua Tree would definitely be in order. However, I could happily spend a week showing them around my home in the South Bay. We would hit up all of our favorite eateries- Offset Coffee and Two Gun Espresso for coffee, Phannys for a breakfast burrito, and dinner at Gabbi James, Bettolino Kitchen, Manhattan Beach Post… We would spend a day paddle boarding in King Harbor Marina in Redondo and another hiking at Abalone Cove in Palos Verdes. For a more relaxing time, we would probably walk around Terranea Resort and maybe get a pool pass for the day or even a massage at the spa! And of course we would spend most evenings watching the sunset from the Esplanade. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So much of my success is thanks to my customers that will loyally purchase every new design that I create. Partially because they want to support Esplanade but also because they want to support my family, which is incredible to me. I love chatting with them on Instagram and hearing their excitement for new launches and ideas for products! I am also so grateful for my friends Emily and Brian who own The Aloha Bungalow (our first wholesale account) – they have pushed us to grow rapidly in our first 6 months! Can I also be lovey dovey and say thanks to my husband Sam who helps carry out all my crazy ideas whether it is building a booth for a market, giving me advice on my designs and if they’re too weird, or just taking care of the kids while I pack dozens of orders,
Kimber Brown & Jessica Hickerson