Meet Georgia Jay: Our chat with the young Kiwi designer

Georgia Jay is most definitely a name to keep tabs on, or a tab to keep open at all times. The 24 year-old designer is an accessories anomaly, working in a fever dream of fur where simplistic practicality meets viva-la-hide. Coromandel born and bred, the small town gal redefines the millennial businesswoman, starting-from-the-bottom in a way that would impress Drake himself. We sat down with Georgia to discuss animal magnetism, taking risks and how to make it big in the fashion industry without giving a damn about fashion. [caption id="attachment_4073" align="alignnone" width="610"]GJ 2 Photography by Julia Atkinson for Studio Home:[/caption] How did Georgia Jay come into fruition? It’s been such an organic procedure it’s really snowballed. I actually found a leather cushion cover and possum skin at a gypsy fair and made this funny bag. I was getting so many compliments from this ridiculous little thing and it started from there. I started to play around with some skins and leather and completely fell in love. Its so brave to be fresh out of university and launching yourself in fashion, how did you navigate the transition? It’s been ridiculous. I went to fashion school in Dunedin but never got into clothing in a big way. I got to the end of my degree and thought, what do I do now? Where do I see myself in the world? I was doing assistant work then ran an office at a graphic design company but it was never my creative calling. I thought, I’ve just got to love what I do, so as soon as I made accessories it was like this is it, this is me. At first I was terrified at the risk, having no money and straight out of university. So I thought, if this is going to work for me I’ve got to start from nothing, no loans, no help and let it grow itself.  No financial assistance, that’s so rare for a designer isn’t it? See I don’t even know! I can track how I’m growing that why you know? It’s just happened so organically. I started making for my friends, gosh I look back and cringe at some of the first ones I ever did. Now it’s just such a word of mouth thing. So you’ve really done no marketing at all? No, none! What I love is I’ve had personal contact with every customer, particularly those wanting custom bags. It’s been so special, having such a personal touch. I was approached by Black Box and it just felt right. At this point it’s getting into every major city in New Zealand and just knowing where your product is going to sit right. I really want to remain affordable. The people that come to me don’t necessarily have a lot of money to spend but they’re willing to invest in you…as you are in them. [caption id="attachment_4074" align="alignnone" width="610"]GJ 1 Photography by Julia Atkinson for Studio Home:[/caption] What was your vision for Georgia Jay? Simple. Very minimalist. I just keep all my styles and shapes clean cut, functional. I’m really big on quality. It’s all about the skins and the furs that give it a special touch. Hides are really unreliable in knowing how many you can source which makes it difficult to expand too quickly, because you can’t always supply the demand. Plus I’m just so conscious that every bag needs to be of a certain quality and look. Do you have any designers you source inspiration from? Ugh I’m so bad! I’m terrible at knowing who’s who and what’s what! That’s so refreshing! Well I spend most of my days in my gumboots going around suppliers, so most of my inspiration actually comes from skin. I’m so fussy with it all! I really need to touch it. Any fur excites me, no two are the same. I’m working on Springbok at the moment, which is pretty outrageous. Most of the time your designs are based on what the fur wants to do, like having a bad hair day. You can’t fold it a certain way you just have to do what the fur wants to do. So it’s all about staples, what would I want in a tote or if I were going out. Tell me about Terrarium and working alongside Lisa Li (from Mydeerfox). I love Lisa to bits, we get along so well and our stuff is so different but they compliment each other so well. Her designs are so structured while mine is really soft and fluffy. I actually met her at a leather supplier and we just really got along. If you’re having a bad day you’ve just got that person there to feed off and create a flow. We’ve just been buds ever since and now have this store [Terrarium] together. What is the ultimate goal for the brand? Is there a dream? I’m not sure where it’s going to go! Just keep going, try and get overseas eventually, but I’m concentrating on monitoring it at the moment, it’s like a little baby. I’d just love to keep doing what I’m doing. Terrarium is located at 467 New North Road, Kingsland For a full list of Georgia Jay stockists or to buy online, visit the official website. Interview and words by Beatrice Hazlehurst. Images courtesy of Studio Home.