Everything about Jenni Kayne is effortless: her laid-back style, her chic home and her approach to parenting. The inspiring LA-based mama of two founded her namesake brand when she was just 19-years-old. She might have been young, but given she attended her first Chanel show when she was six-years-old, she was always destined to be a fashion designer...
She’s now renowned for her timeless, wardrobe classics that span both age and seasons. It might all look effortless, but all businesses have ups and downs. “In 2008, the economy crashed right around the time I had Tanner. I was balancing being a new mom with running a business during very uncertain times. But we got through it. There have been other trying moments too, but I always try to keep things in perspective and take the ebbs and flows in stride,” says Kayne. Like we said, she’s utterly graceful. So how does the woman behind the ultimate California lifestyle brand fit everything in? We all know there’s no magic formula but Kayne does follow a few rules. For starters, she sticks to a realistic schedule (“I try to be as realistic as possible about how long things will take and how much I can actually take on”). She also focuses on what really matters (hint: it’s all about prioritising). Such as? “Creative design work, quality time with my husband and kids, self-care, and top-line business meetings.” She also lets her team get on with things and doesn’t micro-manage their day-to-day tasks. Want to know more? Read on to go inside the world of Jenni Kayne. Photography: Morgan Pansing | Go to www.jennikayne.com
What is the best advice you’ve been given about motherhood?
It’s all about balance. Finding a way to separate time to spend with your friends, husband, and kids so that when you’re doing those things you are fully focused and present. Not on your phone, working. And it helps to find something special to do with each person. For example, Ripley and I ride together and Tanner and I hike together.
Can you tell us about your childhood?
I grew up here in Los Angeles with my parents and two younger sisters, Saree and Maggie. I went to Crossroads in Santa Monica for schooling, which helped nurture my creative instincts. I also got to travel a lot, which helped me see the world outside of California.
Where did your love of fashion begin?
I always wanted to be a fashion designer, from the time I was a little girl. I went to a went to a Chanel show with my mom when I was 6 and was so inspired by what I saw. From then on, designing was a passion of mine.
Have you always been ambitious?
I think my parents instilled a strong work ethic in me and I’ve had some great mentors and friends over the years that helped fuel my ambition as well. I also think it’s part of my personality. While I do value my time off, I also feel energized by my business and creative projects.
What do you recall about launching your brand when you were 19-years-old? What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
I had my first fashion show during LA’s first Fashion Week. I remember Lily Aldridge modelled in my show — it was her first too! She must have been a baby. I’ve learned that having a clear brand message is so important. With so many different elements of my business, it has been a huge focus for me and my team to define our message and make sure that we are communicating it clearly through all of our channels. It’s a pursuit that informs every decision we make, so it’s something we are constantly working on.
What about your lifestyle blog Rip & Tan – what inspired you to launch this site? How important is story-telling/content creation for a brand’s growth?
I started Rip & Tan in 2011, some years after launching the brand. I just wanted a creative outlet at the time, it wasn’t even about growing the brand in some calculated way. As a designer, I am always looking for inspiration, and I wanted to put some of those inspirations on paper in a sense. As the site grew, it became obvious that it deserved to be part of the brand, but I still try to keep it pure and truthful. It’s genuinely recipes or products I have tried and loved, amazing people I’ve met, places I love visiting, and so on.
How has social media impacted your brand and helped you to grow?
Social media has helped us tell stories the stories behind our products in a more dynamic way. Fashion shows only do so much, and not everyone can dive into our stores and experience everything in person. I love that social media and our website have allowed us to share in new ways.
How would you describe your home?
We are in the process of building a home but our current space is a ranch-style house that’s filled with neutral colors and warm textures. I love Kilim rugs, handmade ceramics, cashmere throw blankets, and leather-accents on furniture and objects.
“ It’s all about balance. Finding a way to separate time to spend with your friends, husband, and kids so that when you’re doing those things you are fully focused and present. Not on your phone, working. And it helps to find something special to do with each person. For example, Ripley and I ride together and Tanner and I hike together ”
Which is your favourite room in your home?
Probably our living room, which I designed with some help from One Kings Lane. It’s simple, comfortable, and stylish. I could spend hours talking with friends or hanging out with my kids in the space.
Are you tidy or messy? What are your tips for home organisation with children?
Tidy all the way. Editing what you own down to what you really love and use helps control chaos — and that includes kid’s stuff. I also love using baskets and pretty containers for corralling items in closets, pantries and cabinets.
Favourite social media platform and why?
Probably Instagram, because it’s so visual and simple.
What is your approach to health and wellbeing?
I trust my instincts when it comes to my health. I eat whole, natural foods that make me feel good and nourished, I drink lots of water, and get outside as much as I can. Whether I’m hiking, doing yoga, or riding, I try not to think of it as “Oh, I have to exercise today.” It’s more about getting the blood flowing and using my body instead of my mind for a little bit every day.
What are your daily beauty essentials and how long does it take you to get out the door in the morning?
I’m a minimalist when it comes to my makeup and hair so it doesn’t take me very long to get ready. Earth Tu Face, In Fiore, and May Lindstrom are some of my favorite beauty brands, but I’m always trying new things too. I love a cleansing balm and facial oil; anything that is super nourishing on the skin. And I try to avoid chemicals and artificial fragrances in my products at all costs.
What is your definition of success?
Having a good balance between work and personal life. Feeling inspired every day and harnessing that inspiration in my creative work. Seeing women wearing my clothes or the items from our stores always feels amazing.
What did your own mother teach you about life and motherhood?
My mom taught me to trust my instincts and just be myself, whether in art or in parenting. When you are authentic, honest, and confident, everything falls into place.
What’s your approach to interiors?
Pare down. Invest in well-made items. And stick with neutral colors so that the room can take on different forms, depending on the flowers, lighting, and throw blankets, and other small objects you introduce into the space.
What do you love most about raising children in LA?
I love the mix of city culture and country quiet that’s at your fingertips in LA, and all of the amazing places you can go on the weekend within a few hour’s drive.
What are your fashion essentials – the items on high rotation in your closet?
Right now, I’m transitioning into summer. My summer wardrobe is all about the accessories. Wide brim hats from Janessa Leone, sunglasses from Garrett Leight, and sandals from Birkenstock, Ancient Greek Sandals, and my own line are all staples for me.
What makes you feel stressed? How do you unwind and relax?
Launching new collections, buying for our stores, opening new ones, and keeping the blog looking beautiful can be a lot. Luckily I have an amazing team that helps me feel at ease at the end of the day. Turning off my phone and spending time with my family helps me unwind and relax. I also love a home-cooked meal or a nice bath at the end of a long day — or a fun dinner party with wine and friends! That works too.
Jenni’s little list of loves:
Ribbed cotton T-shirts. Pressed flowers. Celery juice. Sylvain Le Hen hair pins. Picnic plaids. Lingerie tops and dresses. My favorite Levi’s. My kids.