This week I had the opportunity to interview Louise Werling Jasper; the founder and designer behind Singapore-based fashion brand Jasper Living.
Jasper Living is a brand that focuses on creating unique, limited-edition products in a sustainable way. The clothes and accessories are gorgeous, chic and a closet staple for any hippie-at-heart like myself. I hope you enjoy this week's inspiring chat!
So, let’s start at the beginning. Tell me a bit about your childhood and how you feel that has influenced you today?
I grew up in a fashion family. My great-grandfather imported fabrics from Italy and my father worked in production, sourcing and sale in the Danish fashion industry. I always knew I wanted to do something creative; either become an architect or a fashion designer.
As my father was in the industry, I was always helping him at his company after school and at the Copenhagen Fashion Fair, serving coffee for the customers, watching the fashion shows and getting to know people in the industry.
It sounds like the creativity was always there. What did you do after finishing school?
After high school, when I told my parents that I wanted to do a Textile Purchase Educational course at the Textile School in Denmark, my father was against it. Instead, he arranged for a six-month stay at some factories in Porto, Portugal so I could get “behind the scenes” knowledge of the industry and learn all about production, before entering the fashion industry. I didn’t know a word of Portuguese, but I did it. Then, I came back home and told my parents I was ready for further education. That was in 1997.
It seems like you were very focused. How did you get your foot in the door of the fashion industry?
In August 1997, I started my studies in Textile Purchasing at TEKO Center Denmark. During the course, you have to take up a trainee role in a Fashion Company. I was lucky enough to get a spot at the InWear Group AS in Copenhagen. After the course, I went back to InWear, where the company had merged with Carli Gry and was re-named IC Companys. At that time, IC was behind 11 brands, like By Malene Birger, InWear. I worked for PartTwo for almost 10 years as a Sourcer.
When did you decide to start up Jasper Living and why?
In 2011 my husband got the opportunity to move to Singapore as he was working in the shipping industry. I was happy to move and take on a new adventure, but after I had settled into Singapore I found myself missing the fashion industry. It was six months after our second child was born in 2012 that I decided to start up Jasper Living. I contacted old suppliers in India and they were happy to help and back me up.
What is your favourite thing that Jasper Living has brought you?
It allows me to be creative and independent! The independence to create my own daily schedule, to have time for my kids when they are coming home from school and to be able to support their sports arrangements.
What’s the best part of your job?
Happy customers! It makes me happy when I see a woman trying on one of my dresses or army jackets; to see her smile and feel good makes me feel good!
What’s your absolute favourite piece that you have ever created?
The army shirt-jackets as they are all such unique pieces. In the beginning I used old vintage military jackets from all around the world, where I added different sequins patches and gave the old jackets new life. They became such a success! I could not get my hands on the old jackets fast enough, so I started up my own production of them. They are still going strong and, I have still not made two similar jackets the past two years.
What were your biggest challenges in starting up a fashion business?
First of all, in Singapore it is important that you have all of the correct papers. I am dependent on my husband’s work permit, so it was important to get the correct approvals from Government before starting up any kind of business. Another thing is, I am a creative; I hate all the financial stuff, which you really have to learn and understand!
Did you make any mistakes at the beginning?
Yes! I remember my first small collection that I launched in 2013 with the Keffiyeh-inspired pattern sold out within a couple of days because I had 3 designs only, in black and white. I was so afraid of the reaction from customers. I live in a multinational country, so I didn’t want to offend anyone by using the Middle East inspired fabric. Thankfully, I have only received positive feedback from customers so far.
What makes Jasper Living stand out?
Singapore is my main market and I am known for the Arabian collection, which I always have in stock and is now available in three to four colours. Last season I started to work with prints, which has been good for Jasper Living as you have to “think out of the box” and be creative every day. The printed fabrics I use are actually leftovers from big brands, so my printed dresses, skirts, tops are all limited edition.
What’s been your biggest ‘pinch me’ moment?
When I sold one of my dresses to one of the local Singaporean TV Hostesses!
What inspires you?
I love to travel, to visit different cultures; the street fashion in Tokyo, London, Paris and Copenhagen, and I can’t get enough of Danish fashion magazines. Instagram and Pinterest are big sources of inspiration for me as well. I love to take a walk in the Arabian quarter in Singapore as the area is filled up with small local, Korean designer shops and a lot of fabric and trim shops.
What’s your average day like?
On a normal day we wake up 6am to get the kids ready for school so they can head off at 7am on the school bus. Then, I have time to enjoy a cup of coffee, check out the social media and head off to a gym or yoga class.
Two to three times a week I work at a lifestyle store called Badger and Fox, either doing a morning or evening shift. I love being close to the customers and hearing their feedback. When I am not working at the store, I work from my home office; doing administrative work or designing new styles.
The kids are home between 3:45- 5:00 pm every afternoon and then it is time to do homework. We will cook dinner and at the moment, we are watching Friends together before bedtime. My husband and I will then have some time to chat about the day, watch the news or just unwind with some Netflix, before going to sleep at 10 pm. I need my beauty sleep or will be a monster the next day!
Do you think you have a work/life balance?
Yes, and I am very lucky. We are living as an Expat family in Singapore; I don’t have to work from 8 am to 4 pm every day. I can control and manage my workload. We also have a sweet helper living with us, who takes care of the daily cleaning and grocery shopping. I am very lucky.
What words do you live by?
“Follow your dreams” and “treat people like you want to be treated.” I recently lost my mother, so it made me realise how short and fragile life is.
What’s next for Jasper Living?
I want to keep designing and making women happy. A goal is to focus more and more on the environment; using more leftover fabrics, second-hand products and give them a new lease of life. Next year Jasper Living will still be a Singapore-based brand, but maybe the next location for us as family will be back home in Copenhagen. So, who knows what will happen then?
Like what you read? Head to jasperliving.com to shop the collection. Or if you fancy checking out some previous interviews you can find them here. All images are via Jasper Living.