12 Life and Style Tips from J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons
Jenna Lyons, the creative director and president of J.Crew, is kind of our idol. She’s smart, effortlessly sexy and basically ripping apart everything we believe to be true about fashion industry superstars (let’s not even mention that she also got to cameo alongside Lena Dunham on last season’s Girls). But to live like Jenna, you don’t necessarily have to be the head of a billion dollar company. This wise lady has a whole bunch of tips you can start using today. Here are 12 style and life lessons from the fashion power player.
1. Embrace Your Imperfections: “There’s sexiness in not trying to be sexy. Sexy for J.Crew is something more natural, not when everything is firing on all cylinders. There has to be something that’s a bit undone. You can’t have perfect hair and clothes and makeup. You need an element of imperfection to make you feel like there’s a person behind it all.” (via Into the Gloss)
2. Keep Your Morning Routine Fun: Lyons says she showers at night so she can sleep a little later and spend time with her son in the morning. Sometimes she also lets him pick out her shoes. “I have these flat shoes, Christian Louboutin, with spikes all over them. If left up to him, I would wear them far too frequently,” she told Harpers Baazar. And if there is one thing Lyons hates it’s a uniform. “The idea of a uniform is like a slow and painful death to me. There is nothing I like more than getting dressed.” (via Harper’s Baazar, image via NYMag)
3. Go for a Red Lip or a Dark Eye: But never both. Lyons likes a bright lip during the day. If she is transitioning to a nighttime look, she says she’ll usually opt for a smokey eye and leave the lips bare. (via the New York Times, image via Into the Gloss)
4. Host a Nightly Magazine and Wine Party for One: “To unwind, I usually drink one too many cocktails. I love looking at magazines. I get every possible one. I read everything from fashion magazines to New York. It’s a problem. I have stacks all over the house.” (via Harper’s Baazar, image via Models.com)
5. Pay Your Dues: Lyons is practically the poster child for working your way up. At 21 she joined the company as an assistant to the assistant to the person in charge of rugby shirts after graduating from NYC’s Parsons School of Design. 24 years later, she is president and executive creative director to the billion dollar brand. (via Glamour)
6. Find a Fragrance and Make It Yours: Lyons tells TheNew York Times, “I’ve been wearing Creed Silver Mountain Water for years. It’s something that I want to hide, because I don’t want anyone to smell like me. The last year, I’ve been working with Arquiste on J.Crew scents, which has been such an interesting experience. I’d wear the trial samples and noticed that scent changes the way people respond to you. For me, my scent has become part of my personality.” (via The New York Times)
7. Overnight Success Probably Isn’t Going to Happen: “There’s this idea that everybody has to have everything right away. But you have to let the slow burn happen. I wasn’t the superstar. I had to work for it. Really long hours.” (via Marie Claire, image via GQ)
8. Mix Fancy and Casual Clothing: Lyons is a master at this. She’s often spotted walking the red carpet in a sweatshirt and heels and even wore a cashmere sweater to the Met Gala. Sometimes, unlikely combinations have a certain magic to them. Lyons says, “If you have one of our (J.Crew) flip-hem wool skirts, you can wear it smart and flirty with a blazer and shirt and jewels and a heel. But you can also wear it dressed down, with an oversized sweatshirt and New Balance trainers.” (via The Guardian, image via PopSugar)
9. Mistake Are Unavoidable and Necessary: “Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. But do be afraid to not learn from them. In the end, it goes back to just wanting to change things and do a little better. It’s a constant process of always asking, ‘How can we be better? How can we be better? How can we be better?'” (via Business of Fashion)
10. Don’t Play by the Fashion Rules: Don’t like heels? Don’t wear them! Jenna tells TheTelegraph, “There’s nothing more unattractive than someone in heels that are causing them pain. I believe in looking happy.” (via The Telegraph, image via Tomboy Chic)
11. Approach Old Age With Ice Cream and a Martini: It’s true, y’all. If you’re lucky, you get to get older. Rather than head to the surgeon or apply 50 creams a day, it seems like a much better idea to go with Lyons’ approach. “I joke all the time that I’m old, and I’m getting older, and I feel it, so I guess I would rather talk about it with a smile and say, ‘Oh God, I’m old!’ than spend all my time at the dermatologist. I approach aging with ice cream and a martini.” (via Vogue)
12. Bad Haircuts Happen to Everyone: Yes, even to fashion royalty. “At 30, I cut bangs and everyone said it was the biggest mistake of my life.” Jenna tells the New York Times. “Then for some reason, at 40, I took a picture of Alexa Chung and tried to get my hair cut like hers. I don’t look like her. My hair texture is nothing like hers. Who knows why I did it! A friend from California was staying with me, and her first reaction was, ‘Oh, my God, I thought you were wearing a wig.’ I’ve been recovering from that haircut, which was years ago. I literally haven’t had my hair cut since.” (via The New York Times, image via Peter Hapak)
What’s your favorite piece of advice Jenna has to offer? Tag us with your favorite JL quote on Twitter @BritandCo!
Artist Dev Heyrana On How Bravery, Resilience and Sunshine Influence Her Work
Ever meet someone who you feel immediate kinship with on a deep almost spiritual level? That is legit every person's experience upon meeting Dev Heyrana, the star of this edition of Creative Crushin'. A fine artist, hip hop dance teacher and constant collaborator, Dev's particular brand of creativity is one-of-a-kind. She manages to be warm, welcoming and woke, with a focus on inclusivity, social justice and motherhood that comes through in every piece of art she creates.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and one of many humans who has benefitted from Dev's boundless generosity and kindness. We first connected at a launch event, then I asked her if she and her family would like to model for a B+C shoot (they did!), then months later, I asked the IG universe if anyone would be down to co-parent with me for a day so I could speak at a conference. Dev said yes! And for those that know her, none of these serendipitous moments are surprising.
Now it's time to delve more into Dev's story, her creative inspiration, her thoughtful approach to parenting and what makes her more passionate than ever about bringing her point of view and artistic voice into the universe.
Anjelika Temple: First, foundations. Where did you grow up? What is your heritage? What did you study in school? Where do you live now?
Dev Heyrana: Born in The Philippines and immigrated to the U.S. when I was 9 years old. Me and my family are from the island of Cebu and I'm a proud Cebuana. My childhood in the Philippines felt like freedom. I had my swimsuit in my backpack for whenever we decided to swim and I biked everywhere.
Immigrating here at 9 yrs old was a transition, to say the least. My parents had big dreams but the move was heavy on them. It wasn't easy. I had to grow up fast. I took care of my sisters while my parents worked night shifts. By the age of 12 I would cook dinner and get my sisters ready for bed. Something I didn't realize was that kids my age didn't do those things until I got older. We would play these make-believe games to make, in hindsight, our hard situation brighter.
I think this is really when art played a big role in my life. It was something I could escape in and always felt healing.
I witnessed racism towards my family and didn't know how to make sense of it. These events left a mark. I was a quiet kid and observed everything and everyone around me. I think about my grandparents, Lolo Jose and Lola Rita, a lot as I walk through life. When I make decisions. As hard as it feels, you have two choices, do you let it take you down or take it one step at a time forward. I kept going and it really shaped me as to why I am the way I am today.
I studied Fine Arts at The Corcoran in DC. I owe that decision to my art teacher, Mr Giles, in High School. He was retiring and wore a Hawaiian shirt every day during my senior year. He was a curmudgeon and I felt incredibly special since out of everyone in the school he really believed in me. As grumpy as he seemed to the class, he would tell me things like "Go into the other studio and break some glass, then put it on a canvas." He's the reason why my abstract pieces have elements like clay and sand in them.
I've had incredible mentors and all were teachers. Mr. Giles in High School and Christine George in College. Christine was the one who told me to go either to New York or San Francisco because "D.C. is no place for an artist like you." She told me to not listen to anyone, how I can still paint, be a graphic designer, and, if I choose to, have a family. I've never had anyone tell me anything like that before.
I took a chance because of her. Moved and went to Design School in 2006 and I've stayed in the Bay Area ever since, raising two girls with the love of my life.
Anj: You are one of those magical human beings that has figured out how to be a full-time artist. What was your career path like before you were able to dive fully into your creative passions?
Dev: The most radical thing I could have done in my family, I did, I went to college for Fine Arts. A mix of being so young and having to do it on my own, I went with the school that gave me more scholarships. Even then I worked three jobs to be able to get through it. Hard work is ingrained in me.
With my sculpture background, I fell in love with Print and Packaging and why I came out here to San Francisco. I appreciated the security of having a career in Graphic Design. I also learned how to work with clients and the business side of things. Even then, I never stopped painting.
A few years ago I went through a pretty hard time with my health. I dealt with six surgeries in one year and I still have to do some follow-up ones. That experience almost broke me and what got me through was my family and painting in bed while I recovered.
When I finally got back on my feet, my heart just wasn't in Graphic Design anymore. So I made a two year plan. With a toddler and a mortgage, I wanted to make sure my steps were thought out. I put myself out there as an Artist while I still worked in Design. After a year I worked part time as a Graphic Designer and stepped down from my Creative Director position. I loved it, to be creative as an Artist and as a Designer. I looked at 2018 as my year to make the jump. If my work as an Artist balances out with my salary then I would quit in the Summer of 2019. And so here we are. I also am sharing a studio with my good friend, Naomi PQ, and I feel like my creative drive is just beginning.
Anj: What do you love about painting? How do you feel when you're in a creative flow state?
Dev: Like every part of me is free. Free to express myself through the stroke of my hand. How all of it leads back to my heart. These elements I use to paint have a mind of their own and how I need to respect the process.
It centers me and reminds me that the process is just like the life we lead. I know I still have so much more to learn but while I'm painting no matter how it's going, I'll embrace this moment.
Anj: You reference your roots quite a bit in your work. Talk to me more about how your roots inspire your work.
Dev: One of my earliest memories is of my Lolo Jose teaching me how to water mango saplings. He converted to Buddhism when my mother was young, so he viewed the world with love and kindness. I didn't realize it then but watering those mango trees were life lessons. We need to take the time to nurture, practice patience, and respect all living things. I still imagine him walking beside me often, carrying his teachings as I find my way in this world.
Nature and the Sun drive my pieces. My abstract works are fragments of moments. Like the sunset I grew up with when I was seven years old in the Philippines, like how I saw the water in Cebu when I dove in as a young adult, and like when I saw the redwoods with my children for the first time.
I see earth in our skin and especially when I paint people. How our mango trees grew and blossomed because the dark earth was rich with nutrients. I imagine the Sun piercing through these women I depict. I paint their love and bravery because their resilience cannot be contained. I want to celebrate all of it.
This is the beauty of Art, I am able to paint exactly how I see it.
Anj: Motherhood and your daughters are also central themes in your work. How has motherhood changed your approach to creating artwork?
Dev: Everything. I was still deep in my Design Career and I would paint at home. One day Quinn, who was 3 years old at the time introduced me at the park to a mom. "This is my mom, she's an Artist." It struck me that my toddler knew who I was more than I knew myself. That's really when I really owned it. I am more fearless because of my girls.
I own my body, I thank people when they compliment me, and I am selective but fearless when I use my voice. I am more in tune how I speak about myself because of them. When I paint these women I want to celebrate them. I notice how I embrace myself is translated in my paintings.
Anj: What advice can you give to parents who are trying to tap into their kiddos' innate creativity?
Dev: I don't have a lot of guidelines set up. I'll say "Let's draw the biggest fish we can draw" or "how many silly lines can we make" and I let them lead me. They ask me questions, show me things, and I sit there with my coffee watching their eyes wide with excitement. Watching them in their creative process is pure joy for me. Those silly lines can turn into a dragon or waves and next thing we know, we're drawing a big beach scene. My advice would be that you can suggest something to start it off but be open to how they take it. It is such a beautiful window into their minds.
Anj: Shifting gears to HIP HOP DANCE! Talk to us about his component of your creative expression.
Dev: I loved the Hip Hop scene in DC and discovered how much fun the clubs were in college. My friends told me about this Hip Hop Crew I should try out for, I was so scared because I've never taken a dance class in my life. I got in and it was like having another family. We competed all over the East Coast, it was a blast!
I found hipline when I started my first Design Job and needed an outlet. It was exactly what I needed and one of the owners asked if I was interested to teach. I've been teaching there since 2009 and am still going strong. It's a wonderful community of women. Now we're virtual and reaching clients all over.
Anj: What does a typical [pandemic] day look like for you? How does it differ from your rhythm before COVID?
Dev: I've been practicing being kinder to myself lately. Both me and my husband work full time and so having the girls at home is a challenge. Some days we are amazed by how smooth it went and then there are others where if the girls are clean and bellies are full, it's a total win.
Now that we're on month 8 our rhythm before covid felt more chaotic to be honest. I felt like we were always rushing out the door while carrying so many bags. Now my husband and I try to have coffee together, if he has a break from his meeting, and we sit with Quinn before school to see what she has to do for the day. Rowan's preschool closed down but we were able to find a wonderful speech therapist for her and she has an Adventure Pod we go to two times a week.
The one thing we really try to do is go outside once a day. Have some magic in their childhood no matter how small. It could be just going up for a hike by our home and picking up leaves, riding our bikes, or watching the sunset from our window. Seeing how the girls' react to these adventures we have is pure magic.
Anj: When you get creatively blocked or burnt out, how do you reset? Do you have tips you can share?
Dev: I go outside. I go out for a hike or go to the beach. Even if it's 15 minutes, something about grounding yourself in Nature is really healing. I also do exercise where I doodle for two minutes because it feels doable. Judgment-free doodles, always opens the doorway to more.
Anj: I know firsthand that community-building is huge for you. Tell us more about what your support system and creative community looks like.
Dev: I feel a lot of love and strength when I think of my community. My relationship with my sister led the way what women supporting women looks like. It's listening, asking questions, remembering, cheering for all the wins, being there even if it's hard, and taking time to invest in them. The way me and my sister show up for each other is why I have these amazing women in my life. I can talk to them about my family, motherhood, and we're all trying to balance it all while sharing my most recent project. I feel really blessed especially looking back in my college years where I don't know where Art would take me.
Anj: When you need to give yourself a pep talk, what does it sound like?
Dev: I usually take a deep breath then say or think "One step forward". Most of the time, I'm scared (as shit) but the thought of not trying scares me more. That one step forward can be hard as hell and maybe even heartbreaking, but I have to try.