Meet Jennifer Lynn Diana, founder of JLD Studios
Meet Jennifer Diana, founder of JLD Studios, a one-stop-shop for fashion industry production help. She built her career and then her business on the backbone of freelancing, which gave her a wide range of skills and knowledge that propelled her to start her own studio. What I found so interesting about Jennifer’s story is that she has a design background. Yet, she used that creative talent and knowledge to carved out a niche for herself and filled a need in manufacturing right here in the U.S.A.
After graduating from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, I was lucky to quickly land a job with a small manufacturer in Miami. There I learned about the importance of technical packages and how to communicate with a factory. I had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador and work directly with this team set up a new screen printing program. From here I worked in menswear at Perry Ellis in Miami, then New York and young men’s knitwear at Jordache. Eventually, a switched to freelance and opened up my scope to include women’s and childrenswear.
Freelance to freedom…
I freelanced in the industry for several years. My favorite part about freelancing was the opportunity to grow as a designer. By working in many different markets I was constantly challenged. I believe this spurred my creativity in new ways. When you step away from your normal day-to-day, you’re more creative and open to new ideas when you come back to it. I still believe in this and work to practice it in my business.
Knowledge of commonly used programs was a big help, but treating the gigs as real jobs is what I believe set me apart. I put the same dedication into these opportunities as I would a full-time position or even my own business.
Journey to my own business…
Owning my own business has always been my dream. I’ve dabbled with a few other businesses before finding my purpose. I started my first and second businesses while working full time. When I realized I wasn’t getting enjoyment out of the full-time job I saved up a few months living expenses and quit. Freelancing was my soft landing while I figured out the businesses and ultimately the path that led me to create JLD-Studios.
About 6 years ago my husband and I decided to leave New York for Portland. We took 6 months to travel across the country visiting friends and family along the way. Savings and sporadic freelance jobs funded our journey. I took business calls and sometimes CADed in the car.
Once we landed in Portland the plan was to go back to work full-time. But the plan wasn’t moving at my desired speed, so I focused on getting more freelance gigs. One day I had more work than I could keep up with and JLD-Studios was born. I hired a couple interns from the local Art Institute and we set up shop in the business center of my apartment complex. Nine months later we moved into our first real office and have been growing ever since.
Listening to the clients’ needs…
Currently, we specialize in activewear and casual knit garments. We assist with everything from concept to production. This includes tech packs, digital garment patterns, textile design, sampling, sublimation printing, and full garment production. We do all of this in our studio space and adjoining factory in Portland. We receive a majority of our new clients through our website and Maker’s Row.
JLD Studios started pretty small. The factory really launched from the needs of our clients. After working with over 150 start-up brands we couldn’t help but notice the difficulty they faced in production. Our goal with the factory is a stress-free, no-minimum, customizable solution for small and emerging brands.
Running a factory is no small feat and every day comes with a new set of challenges. Our goal is to continue improving efficiency and knocking through the challenges to make room in the margins for more employees and higher wages.
Taking good advice…
I admire entrepreneurs. This is a tough road, it’s humbling. It will petrify you one minute and elate you the next. I’m pretty all or nothing and admire those that jump all in and swim.
I’ve never had a specific mentor, but my family is incredibly supportive and entrepreneurial. So they have all had a hand in mentoring me. We need different advice at different times in our lives. Right now, I’ve been hearing, “be proud of what you’ve accomplished.” As someone always working on what’s next, it’s important to also look at what’s already been done.
I would tell young creatives who are just starting out in the industry, “Relax!” There will be so many opportunities if you work smart and keep your eyes and ears open to them. We know you’re working hard, your boss is too, and someday you’ll look back on this and realize how easy you had it.
To follow Jennifer & JLD Studio or find out more about what she does please check out www.jld-studios.com
Facebook Group: JLD-Studios
Read a recent article in Portland Business Journal about JLD Studios!
Fashion Freelance Business Series:
Interview With Jennifer Diana of DJD Studios