Jessica Rich Talks Designing Shoes, Working Through A Pandemic, Being Strikingly Different and More
Everyone knows the story of Cinderella and the glass slipper, but why aren’t enough people talking about the fairy godmother from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who created them? Let’s get into Jessica Rich, The Fairy Godmother of PVC–Polyvinyl Chloride– stilettos. Rich has come a long way since her days on VH1’s Real Chance of Love. She took the luxury shoe industry by storm by capitalizing on a style that never really existed.
Jessica started her luxury shoe voyage by introducing her first design, the Fancy Stiletto, in the spring of 2017. Next, a style that went viral overnight arrived, which she titled the real Cinderella pump. The transparent shoe trend was rising, and she seized the moment.
As Rich reflects on the unprecedented circumstances COVID-19 brought forth; she’s incredibly humble and grateful for taking her brand to the next level by moving her brick-and-mortar store from Melrose to an iconic and extraordinary location in Beverly Hill Center.
The Fairy godmother has ascended to the top by designing for countless high-profile celebrities, such as Mary J Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, and many more. Rich took advantage of her time on TV and networked with the most prominent players in Hollywood, and from that, she runs 100% of her celebrity press marketing. She’s humbled by everyone who supports her brand, but she still can’t wait to see her designs worn by two notable celebrities, which Jessica says it’s just a matter of time.
When she’s not working in her new space between Versace and Burberry, she prioritizes her day by answering emails, exercising, and attending numerous meetings and projects while not forgetting to do what’s essential to her most, making time for family and friends.
After receiving support from major retailers like Bloomingdales and Nordstroms, her next goal is to open a store in Miami, as well as the one place that holds her heart, New York City. As she continues to push her entrepreneurial dreams forward, Jessica also considers tapping into creative directing for other brands by using her knowledge, experience, and style to help them on a creative level.
She wants to continuously remind girls that they can do whatever they want in life, and no matter what obstacles they face, they can achieve success by not giving up. She’s determined to make the “Jessica Rich” brand last as long as some of the industry’s most influential brands, and I do not doubt that she will reach that plateau.
“Keeping your own identity despite the life changes you experience is very important because success, fame, and wealth can be fleeting,” says Rich.
We’re talking to a woman that knows her value and will do anything to help those around her.
Check out the full exclusive interview with Jessica Rich below.
Contrast: You just recently celebrated five years of your self-titled luxury shoe brand, “Jessica Rich,” being in business. What has made your brand stand out compared to other luxury shoe brands?
Jessica Rich: Thank you so much! It’s been a very incredible journey so far! My brand took off with my first design, the Fancy Stiletto released in Spring 2017. We released the Fancy Stiletto before PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) shoes really even existed. I created a style – the real Cinderella pump – that went viral overnight because seemingly every girl on Instagram organically promoted the shoe. During my first year of business, my designs consisted of strictly clear shoes which is what made me stand out. The transparent shoe trend was on the rise and I took a hold of it.
Contrast: In December 2020, you opened your newest brick and mortar store in Los Angeles Beverly Center, sitting right between Versace and Burberry and taking over the once Giuseppe retail space. How significant was filling that space, and how has your business grown since then?
Jessica Rich: I feel extremely humbled and grateful that I can say that 2020 was an incredible year for me, despite the pandemic and unprecedented circumstances COVID-19 brought forth. I was able to move my Melrose store to the amazing + iconic location that Giuseppe, one of the biggest designers in the world, previously occupied. This opportunity has significantly increased the awareness of my brand as well as attracted new customers who weren’t familiar with my brand before and now they have fallen in love with my designs! I never in a million years thought that I would be able to fill such big shoes and be able to place my brand among these major designers – I am so thankful.
Contrast: Your designs have been worn by countless high-profile celebrities such as Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, Megan Fox, and Normani. With your background in PR, do you find yourself reaching out to these celebrities personally, or do you have a team that does that for you?
Jessica Rich: I do 100% of the celeb marketing for the brand. My relationships in Los Angeles led me to start my own company because of my background in Reality-TV. Back in 2008, I was on a VH1’s show that provided me with “15 minutes of fame”. I took full advantage of that experience/opportunity to network; it allowed me to shake hands and meet some of the biggest players in Hollywood, from celebrities to stylists.
Many people began to notice the network I built for myself and it wasn’t long until they asked me to help build their brands and pass along their products to my friends with influence or notoriety. It was only a matter of time before I did PR marketing for myself. Although, recently, I hired an amazing team to assist me in future ventures.
Contrast: Who are some of your dream clients you want to see in your luxury designs?
Jessica Rich: I’ve had so many celebrities in my shoes that I’ve been super humbled and appreciative of everyone who’s ever supported my brand. That being said, I’m still dying to see Rihanna and Beyoncé in my designs, both of them have the product and it’s just a matter of time. Waiting to see if/when they decide to wear my designs leaves me anticipating.
Contrast: What does the average day look like for Jessica Rich?
Jessica Rich: I have described my life as a walking reality show. From the minute I wake up, I start working. I answer all my emails and my text messages in bed before I get out and start my day. I have to start my day like this otherwise I’ll end up neglecting them because my day picks up pretty quickly.
Once I finish getting back to emails and text messages, I normally prioritize exercising. I usually choose between yoga, Pilates, or I hit the gym to make sure I start my day with movement. After my workout is completed, I sometimes go into the office to check on different projects we’re working on. My daily schedule is often filled with numerous meetings (including design, marketing, future projects meetings, etc.) with my team to ensure we are staying on top of each project/design we have in the works.
I also think it’s important to make time for friends and loved ones. I love reconnecting over a meal, doing self-care treatments together (such as beauty treatments, going to the salon, retouching lashes, etc.), and other things that keep me balanced. I’ve worked so much in the last five years building this brand. I have to really force myself to slow down to appreciate life because it goes by so fast if you don’t.
Contrast: You’ve achieved so much these last few years. One example is securing the support of significant department retailers such as Nordstroms, Bloomingdales, and DSW. What’s next for your brand, and what’s the legacy you want to leave behind?
Jessica Rich: I’m super grateful for the retail expansion. It’s been amazing. My next goal is to open a store in New York City, the city that has my heart. I’d also like to open one in Miami as well.
As for my personal entrepreneurial journey, I am considering tapping into creative directing for other brands. I have been approached by various brands and I believe I could use my knowledge, experience, and style to help them creatively.
I wanted the legacy I leave behind to continuously remind girls everywhere that they can do whatever they want in life no matter what. I come from a very small town in Michigan, I’m a 100% self-funded owner of my brand, and I have taken control of everything from day one – no matter what the obstacles I may have had to overcome. I have been able to achieve this success because I never gave up, and I never will. It’s my goal to ensure that my brand lasts just as long as some of the industry’s biggest and greatest… I’m reaching for name recognition for over 100+ years but there is no true limit.
Contrast: The definition of Contrast is ‘to be strikingly different.’ What makes you strikingly different?
Jessica Rich: I believe what makes me different is that I have remained super down to earth. No matter how much success I’ve had, I am the same Jessica I was since day one and high school. Keeping your own identity despite the life changes you experience is very important because success, fame, and wealth can be fleeting – everything can change overnight, especially in our business. So I always remember where I came from and try to always be the nicest version of myself toward others… it’s critical to never act like you’re better than anyone else. I also believe my drive and constant ambition make me unique and are a huge factor in my success. Self-love and valuation are vital – and I know my value. I’m not just a “beautiful face”, but I also have the brains. I have also been told that I am very generous and I hold that to be true, I will do anything to help those around me.