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The Light Files - Jonathan Blake

Jonathan Blake

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Success has come quickly to Jonathan Tinkle, the creative force behind the Jonathan Blake brand. Laura Max interviews the young fashion designer.

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Laura: Hi everyone. I'm Laura Max, your host of the Light Files on TheBusinessmakers.com brought to you by Audi Central Houston. I'm here today with Jonathan Blake, the famed Houston fashion designer who's debuting his fall collection this month. Jonathan welcome to the show.

Jonathan: Oh well thank you for having me.

Laura: It's such an honor to have you. You are by far my youngest guest at 23 years old. You have British Vogue flying in tomorrow for your show. I mean how does it feel to have accomplished so much at such a young age?

Jonathan: It feels absolutely wonderful and I'm very thankful that I've had such a pleasurable experience so early on.

Laura: Now what do you think it was that has brought you such success at such a young age? We're sitting here in your office. You've had countless collections at this point and lots of supporters. What is your key ingredient then?

Jonathan: Well one of them is that I networked very well when I was in college instead of partying and just being a college kid. I spent time networking and learning more about my industry and then also thanking the people that have helped you and taken the time to support you I think because that inspires them to help you more and be there for you more. So I think those two things have really helped me.

Laura: So thanking the people that have helped you and no party in college.

Jonathan: That's very important. No.

Laura: I think that's a challenge for many of us but you seemed to have pulled it off.

Jonathan: Yes.

Laura: I know that having a dream is probably the key ingredient. How long have you wanted to be a fashion designer?

Jonathan: I wanted to be a fashion designer since the age of 14, 15 years old. I was looking at doing acting. I mean from the time I could walk I was always planning what I wanted to do with my life. So I wasn't one of those kids who kind of just put it on the back burner. So acting was something that I pursued but my passion wasn't in it. So I loved fashion and that's where I am today.

Laura: Now you've done a lot of hard work and you've taken a lot of very big steps to get here. Did you ever imagine that at this age you would be where you are today?

Jonathan: No. I thought it would be ten times harder. I mean not that it's been easy by any means but I've been very well blessed with the experiences and the opportunities that have come and I'm incredibly thankful for that.

Laura: So you've built a huge reputation for yourself in Houston. There are a lot of Houstonians and socialites who are wearing your clothes every day. Where do you see yourself headed in the next ten years?

Jonathan: Well in ten years I want to - well one, I would like to have a boutique, a standalone store somewhere that I really am accepted as readily as I have been here whether that's Aspen or New York or L.A. or Dallas. I mean those are cities that I want to have a presence in in ten years.

Laura: Well I think Aspen would be a perfect place for your clothes. I've been there recently and I can see your store front already. So I hope that works out for you.

Jonathan: Well thank you.

Laura: So tell me. I mean I've been to several of your shows and I've heard a lot of different words used to describe your clothing; timeless, clean lines. How would you describe your collections?

Jonathan: I would describe them as elegant, sophisticated, unique and luxurious.

Laura: Are there certain designers that you get your inspiration from?

Jonathan: Yeah. Well mainly a lot of it comes from my personal sense of style. The three designers that I absolutely just love personally are Loro Piana, Stefano Ricci and Tom Ford. I think that they do amazing work and they're all three completely different as far as their aesthetic but they're just wonderful designers.

Laura: So now Loro Piana and Stefano Ricci - I know everyone knows who Tom Ford is. Tell us a little bit about those two designers.

Jonathan: Well Loro Piana is more about the fabrics. It's very classic. It's understated. Someone wearing one of their pieces - a person looking at it will never know that they spent a lot of money on it but they know that it's a very well-made item. Stefano Ricci is the complete opposite. It's in your face. It's loud. It lets you know it's very luxurious. It's very vibrant and rich. But I love them both because they do what they do very well.

Laura: So given all the work that you've already put into Jonathan Blake to your line so far what do you think it is other than the networking that has really enabled you to have such success? I know I've spoken to a lot of people on this show before about - some of them talk about needing their eight hours every night and some of them talk about foregoing the eight hours altogether. What's your strategy?

Jonathan: I want to make sure that the customer has a pleasurable experience when they buy the product. The product needs to be very well made and when they buy from me I want them to look at it in a way like it's a good investment. It's something that if they buy a jacket that jacket will last them for a decade hopefully and they'll be able to wear it and it'll never go out of style. I don't do trends because my belief is that trends are a bad investment. Why buy something when you're not going to be able to wear it again in six months or…

Laura: That's interesting because when I think about your clothes there are a lot of very timeless pieces, things that I look at and I think, "That's something that's going to be in my closet for at least 20 years." So that is reflected in your work.

Jonathan: Oh well thank you.

Laura: So you were not a graduate of the Art Institute. That is where you went to school but you left early to pursue your own line.

Jonathan: Yes.

Laura: Did you just have that gut feeling that you were going to be able to make it?

Jonathan: I knew what I wanted to do. I had a very clear vision which I think is very important. You need to have it all very well defined and you need to know what the reaction is that you want and you need to make sure that you know how to get that reaction or that response. So I had all of those questions answered and so I was confident in being able to go out and do that and receive that response and do what I wanted to do.

Laura: Fantastic. Well it's been a pleasure having you on the show Jonathan.

Jonathan: Oh thank you.

Laura: Twenty-three years old, British Vogue flying in tomorrow for your show. Very exciting place to be and I have no doubt in ten years we'll be seeing even more exciting things from you.

Jonathan: Well thank you.

Laura: I am your host Laura Max of the Light Files brought to you by Audi Central Houston. You can find us always on TheBusinessmakers.com and every Sunday on News 92 FM at noon central time. We'll see you next week. Bye everyone.

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