Find more alumni stories and tips for your success in Phoenix Focus.
True Blue: From farm girl to fashion designer
JLynn Hausmann has always been a blue jeans kind of girl. Raised on a farm in Boyd County, Nebraska, she enjoyed her country upbringing with her close-knit family in the heartland.
When she was struck by the fashion bug during an undergraduate college trip to London and Paris, it seemed only natural that Hausmann would gravitate toward what she had lived in practically her whole life: denim.
Hausmann is the founder and owner of JHaus Brand Premium Denim, a line of jeans, tops and other apparel she launched in 2012. Though the JHaus label is relatively new, today it can be found lining the virtual shelves of online mega-retailers Zappos.com and Amazon.com, as well as in boutiques sprinkled across California, Arizona and the Midwest.
Laying the groundwork
Although Hausmann is enjoying early success with her denim line, it’s the result of careful planning, unfailing determination, a razor-sharp focus and a good old-fashioned Midwestern work ethic. After she graduated from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in fashion and textiles, Hausmann moved to Phoenix. There, she landed an entry-level job at a nonprofit organization.
She enjoyed her new position, but Hausmann knew she had a future in fashion. She also knew she needed to learn about business before she could turn her vision into reality. “If the numbers don’t make sense, then you don’t have a business,” she says with her trademark practicality. So she enrolled in the MBA program at University of Phoenix to hone the business skills she would need to succeed in her own endeavor. She landed an internship at the iconic department store Neiman Marcus where she got hands-on experience in her myriad duties—and a mentor in her boss.
“I worked in different areas, from cashmere to dress collections to designer wear,” she explains. “I was dealing with customers first-hand, finding out what they like and what they don’t like.” Her mentor, the store manager, also offered her advice about how to start her own line of clothing.
Perfecting her product
As if her day job, school and internship weren’t enough, on the side Hausmann set about creating her own denim designs. She would drive to Los Angeles on weekends to select fabrics, fine-tune the cuts with her pattern maker and sewer and do fittings with models. “It was a pretty chaotic time,” she reflects. “The fit is the most important part with denim. It took us close to a year to nail the fit.”
The day came when she decided to make her move and give 100 percent to her dream, spurred by what at the time seemed like a stroke of bad luck. She was in California one weekend working on her denim line when her home in Scottsdale was robbed. Everything from her jewelry to her designer clothing was taken. “It kind of pushed me to take a leap of faith and come to L.A.,” she admits. “I thought, ‘If I’m going to make this move, I’m going to do it. I don’t want to sit back and wonder [about what might have happened].’”
“Everything I do is grassroots—it’s hustling. I’ve heard ‘no’ so many times, but when the door doesn’t open, you keep pounding the pavement. I believe in [JHaus] 110 percent, and I just keep pushing forward.”
Her big break
Once in Los Angeles, she hit the ground running. She decided to do a production run of her jeans before she had any orders. “You have to have product to show people so they can try it on and feel it,” says Hausmann, who completed her MBA in 2009.
With her jeans in hand, she began contacting buyers, boutique owners and anyone else who would talk to her about her denim line. “Everything I do is grassroots—it’s hustling,” she says. “I’ve heard ‘no’ so many times, but when the door doesn’t open, you keep pounding the pavement. I believe in [JHaus] 110 percent, and I just keep pushing forward.”
Her long days and nights are beginning to pay off, as evidenced by the growing list of retailers that are carrying her line. And last fall, when she participated as an Emerging Designer at Phoenix Fashion Week, JHaus was picked up by Zappos.
“Once we landed the Zappos account, it gave us credibility to other vendors,” she says. “It has been a really big steppingstone for us.”
Though JHaus is based in downtown L.A.’s fashion district, she heads back to Nebraska every chance she gets. “I love to go back home. I love spending time with my family,” she says. In fact, her roots are so important to her that they influence every aspect of her business. She designed her company logo based on her family’s cattle brand, and she names her different styles of jeans after family members, such as the “Emmie” named for her slender niece and the “Becca” named for her fashion-forward sister-in-law.
“Every detail of JHaus has a story behind it,” she notes.
As for the future, Hausmann will no doubt keep her strong connection to home alive as she continues to dream big. “I want to keep growing the company,” she says, of her ambition to expand JHaus’s offerings to include accessories, home décor and more. “And I definitely want to be involved in the community and give back.”