Growing up in Glassboro, NJ, Jessica Velez was never far from the glimmering skyline of New York City. From an early age, she knew this would be her home one day. Jessica also recognized something else--an wavering fascination with design. Unlike many of her peers, Jessica recalls being glued to the HGTV channel as a child, an interest that inspired her to dabble with her own homemade creative projects. This passion eventually helped make her dream of living in NYC a reality when she enrolled at F.I.T in 2007. There, she was not only able to obtain her Associates through a joint program at the prestigious Polimoda in Florence, Italy, but also gained indispensable experience working alongside fashion elite such as Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs and Rebecca Taylor in the US.
"The design development can begin with an incredible textural yarn, a photo of Ernst Heckel's illustrations, or one of Veruschka's photographic series of 'Transfigurations'," says Jessica.
While these experiences were valuable in every sense of the word, Jessica found herself working extremely long hours for others rather than devoting that time to her own designs. Driven by the desire to share her work with the world, she began channeling that energy to build her own brand instead.
In 2011, the budding designer founded her own company, Jessica Velez Knitwear, upon graduating from F.I.T. According to Jessica, having the ability to create and develop the structure, color and texture of her own textile is what initially drew her into knitwear, but the real fun begins with the source of inspiration behind each creation. "The design development can begin with an incredible textural yarn, a photo of Ernst Heckel's illustrations, or one of Veruschka's photographic series of 'Transfigurations'," says Jessica. Whether she's using natural fibers or mixed fiber yarns, her unique vision combined with flawless design execution continually resonates with her loyal customers who value the craftsmanship and wearability behind each piece.
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March 21, 2014A well-traveled designer, Jessica Velez is no stranger to foreign design practices. None, however, inspired her as much as that of a trip to her ancestral country following a Skype session over Colombian coffee.
"Colombia was an opportunity that presented itself at the right time," she recalls. "My aunt, Luz Mary, introduced me to an incredibly skilled knitter/crocheter/macrame-er named Donia Luz Dary. We all agreed to try this exciting new venture of working together to create some knits for my Spring 14 collection."
Almost immediately, Jessica purchased her ticket for a 10-day visit with Dary and fellow artisans. Together, they connected over their love for bringing unique designs to life. Their shared passion radiates throughout various pieces featured in Jessica's captivating Spring 14 collection--a sign that Jessica and the Colombian designers had formed something deeper that went beyond a short visit. During her stay, Jessica also learned the same women who were so talented and so ambitious were also at a disadvantage.
"There is an immense amount of dedication and talent for hand craftsmanship BUT not enough jobs or value for these skilled women,"Jessica says.
Inspired by their dedication, Jessica has decided to continue working with the artisans for future collection. Her goal is not only to support their craft but to also provide economical stability as needed. When there's a great cause behind fashion, the clothes appear even more beautiful.
January 20, 2014
JessicaVelez from Young & Able on Vimeo.
F.I.T grad Jessica Velez fell in love with knitwear as soon as she learned about the craft. Since then, the budding designer has fully committed herself to developing her namesake line. Her efforts, undoubtedly, proved to be fruitful as it was quickly picked up by various retailers, including Young & Able.
From sourcing her yarns locally to hand-making each item in her collections, Jessica is a firm believer in taking a more traditional, homegrown approach and prides herself in pouring a lot of love, care and attention into her products, as seen in the following video.
Last chance to shop Jessica Velez fall knits now 40% off.