A conscious conversation — with Jess Green
In a world where we are constantly unconsciously encouraged to turn up the pace, to do more, be more, earn more, work more, consume more — it is refreshing and a relief to find people that have decided to press pause and swim upstream against the hustle of society.
Jess, or Jessica, is one of those rare souls who chooses to design her life with consciousness at the forefront and we were curious to know more of her story. She has also recently launched her online shop, Jess Green, which is an extension of her lifestyle and beliefs.
Read below for our Conscious Conversation with Jessica Combrinck — the lady behind all things Jess Green
Tell us about the essence of Jess Green and how it started?
The essence of JESS|GREEN is to go back to the absolute beginning, the starting point of where everything is created. To ask why, what, who and when? To know what ripple effect our decisions cause and to live with the impact. JESS|GREEN has it's roots planted in a very deep pot and the first seed sprouted when I started a kids clothing label called Arthur & Kenneth. From there it grew into women's wear and slowly with time and patience, I found it's purpose. Upon researching different textiles and which ones I wanted to use to build a range, I came across horrifying realities. The fashion industry world wide is worth $3 trillion, converted to rands = R40642800000000.00! <-What does that even mean? A large percentage of that amount goes straight into the pockets of those sitting right at the top. But then I asked a question few people are concerned with, what about those right at the bottom, the people who's hands touch the garments we wear? The families who farm the cotton that is to be spun into our favorite tees? On average a factory garment worker in Bangladesh will earn R450 a month. Shocking, but true. Working overtime without pay, being subject to verbal and sexual abuse, fearing for their safety in their work place and down right being forced into modern day slavery. WHY? So that the world's fast fashion thirst could be quenched. I decided that JESS|GREEN was going to be different, that I was going to slow it down a little, design sustainable garments made ethically from sustainable textiles, so that they will last longer in a good condition and so that women will feel better in the clothes they choose to wear.
You are an advocate for slow living - why do you think this is more sustainable in the long run?
Slow living is not only beneficial to the environment but also to our health, happiness and longevity. We are living in a "microwave" world where everything needs to have happened yesterday already. There is pressure on us to perform at work, come home and be a wife, mother or friend, make "healthy" food, go to the gym, have a beautiful home, find time to rest and the get enough sleep in the process. We are all in a big rush to somewhere that's not satisfying or sustainable. We need to start "chasing slow". There is a book with this title by Erin Loechner, and she has a point. We are borrowing resources from our future. Our future selves, our future environment, our future work force. To put it visually, you cannot eat an entire cake in one go and feel great afterwards. You will feel nauseous, you will have not shared with anyone and if you did this everyday, you wouldn't live to see your children grow old. We need to slow down, eat the cake one bite at a time, savor the taste and moment and be kind enough to share it. Does that make sense?
Define what sustainable clothing means to you?
Sustainable clothing is a conscious decision, choosing to use textiles that are as natural as possible, and leave a very small carbon footprint. It means having the garments made ethically by hands that are being taken care of fairly. It means not following a fashion fad but staying true to your aesthetic and design.
What advice can you give to someone who wants to switch to a more sustainable and ‘green’ wardrobe?
1 — Know your style, what works for you and what doesn't.
2 — Buy what you need, not what you "must" have. And know the difference.
3 — Don't just throw clothing away, give it to someone in need or host a clothing swop to give it a second life.
4 — Read the labels, what is the garment made of? Natural textiles or plastic?
5 — Shop local. Your purchase will support local traders and makers. It will have less carbon emission attached to it's shipping.
What are your biggest challenges as a small business owner?
Finding people who are ready to listen and do. I will get there, I know.
What is your long term vision for Jess Green?
I would love to not only grow the online store, supplying local products in every area of the home, but also be heard on a bigger platform. I would love to talk to women about their shopping choices and to educate them on where clothes really come from. Like a motivational/educational speaker of some sort.
How do you find balance between work and your personal life?
It was tough at the beginning to know the balance as I recently got married. Dating and marriage are two completely different seasons. But my husband comes first, always. There's no two ways about it. Whatever I need to get done takes place after breakfast and ends at 4'o clock.
Where do you find advice / mentoring for growing Jess Green as a business?
My Husband is my business brain and helps me immensely with the financial side of things. I could float away on a creative cloud some days and he would just bring me straight back down and explain what's possible at the moment and what's not. haha I also watch a lot of TedTalks, read blogs, and watch documentaries to inform and educate myself.
Being a creative female, how important is wellbeing as a women for you?
Very! Women, in any household or environment, play such an important role. We are the carers and helpers, whatever that looks like for you. I know from personal experience, when I am stimulated creatively, my soul is happy. For example, when my husband takes me to Babylonstoren, I am the happiest happy you can find. You could get anything out of me, the shoes off my feet if you'd like. We all need to find that one thing that fills our tanks, so that we, in turn, can give again.
Do you have specific rituals you practice as a means to wellness as a women?
I spend time with my Father, I read His word and I make sure that my tank with Him, is always full! I run, outside, in our amazing nature. It clears my head and puts great ideas back in. I also love to read and learn from others who have been here before me. The season I am in now is to be the best wife I can be, so I am constantly working on that. I also love to work in the garden, to feel the grass under my feet and the soil under my fingernails.
What does self-care mean to you as a women and how do you make that part of your daily life?
I am not a nails & facial girl, although I do enjoy being pampered. Self-care for me, starts on the inside. Making sure your heart is healthy, spiritually and emotionally. And making sure your identity as a women is secure. Know who you are. Somedays it's necessary for me to tell myself in the mirror how beautiful I am. My husband reminds me but if I don't believe it for myself, then those words make no difference. I remind myself that I am wonderfully and fearfully made and that God does not make mistakes.
When do you feel like you are at your best?
I love to run as I mentioned, but hiking up a mountain and running down is the ultimate for me. When I get to the bottom, yes I could fall on my face, but I feel like I have just conquered a giant. Literally.
Do you have any female mentors / muses and how do they inspire / mentor you?
Muses I have many of. All the ladies I have met thus far in the creative field in Cape Town are absolutely amazing and I love following their social media feeds. One muse in particular stands out to me and that's Karen Roos. She and her husband own Babylonstoren Farm. I don't know her personally so I cannot comment on her character, but just being at Babylonstoren, experiencing the hospitality and friendliness from the staff, I can imagine she must be a phenomenal person. Everyone is happy and content and enjoy what they do. The way they have chosen to work with nature and people amazes me and I definitely draw inspiration from her as well as the essence of the farm. I also feel like I am welcomed with arms wide open every time I visit there.
We all know that self-love as women is hard for us - what part of your womanhood do you celebrate the easiest?
Oh! The mere fact that we are able to bring life into this world. I am in love with the idea of being a mommy and cannot wait! Having a child means it is no longer about you and your world, but about a greater purpose. Making sure that that child grows, feels safe and experiences an abundance of unconditional love. Only a mommy can do that, alongside a daddy of course.
If you find yourself on a stage in front of a crowd of women - what would you say to them as motivation to be the best version of themselves?
Be the best possible "you" you can be. Love yourself for who you are and not who you wish you were. God does not make mistakes and there is a reason for your existence.
If you can give the 13 year old version of yourself a piece of advice / wisdom that you know today - what would that be?
Stop overthinking EVERYTHING and just live!
My favorite way of movement is
When I'm alone at home with great music playing. ( if the walls could talk...)
My favorite season is
Spring because it brings new life, new opportunities and it looks pretty whilst doing it.
Natural, because I want to live a long, healthy life.
The first thing I do when I wake up is
Say good morning to my hubby!
The last thing I do before I go to bed is
Say goodnight to my hubby! haha
My guilty pleasure is
Salt & vinegar chips! I love the crunch and can't stop once I've started.
Coffee OR tea
Coffee although it should be tea.
Early bird OR night owl
My favorite meal right now is
Curry. I love the burn.
My favorite Jess Green product is
To live ‘greener’ starts at
The beginning. Why are you doing the things your doing?
Answer yourself and make the decision.
Our Conscious Conversations is a way of sharing real stories and honest insights into products, people and places we admire and feel we can all learn from. Sharing is caring — and this is a series where we express our care in sharing.