Local Love: Talking with Designer Jessica Rusch of Jessy Made

Jessy's vintage memento mori snake vertebrae bracelets shown here with her mini stud bucket evening pouch complete with adjustable strap, bottom studding, and two large silk tassels on a removable key chain. All available in-store.



Designer Jessica Rusch spends hours braiding her pieces by hand—admittedly sometimes through the wee hours of the night. Bags feature studs, mixed hardware, tassels, and punk rock inspired safety pins. Rusch eschews minimalism with her abundance of details, yet all the elements work together creating a cohesive presentation that is actually quite versatile.

Rusch takes commissions through her site, but she also adds a personalized touch to the bags we have available in the store. Jessy Made totes come with a customizable stud insert featuring the designer's signature braid detail. Buyers get to choose from a selection of shapes including hearts, arrows, and the Venus symbol. Her bags even back a cause dear to Rusch—throughout February, 5% of the profits from bags sold will be donated to Austin’s Planned Parenthood.



A variety of Jessy's 1970's vinyl record disc and snake vertebrae trade bead bracelets we carry in-store. Her skulls are cast in 24k gold vermeil or carved from buffalo bone. Her skulls are meant to be worn as a reminder to their wearer of the fragility of life and to make the most of our time here. 


It's not just bags. 

Her colorful bracelets and bangles are meant to be stacked and layered, but they look just as good worn as singles. Rush incorporates found materials including vintage vinyl records, harking back to her childhood. She also draws from gothic elements; designing bracelets to look like a snake's spine and using buffalo bone beads. 

We caught up with Rusch to get the details on Jessy Made, her design method, and a bit about what she loves to do here in Austin. 


Tell me about the moment you knew you wanted to design?

Pretty sure it’s in my genes. Growing up, my parents both raised on nearby farms, with limited resources, created a beautifully unique childhood for us. My mother made my sister’s “make-believe” costumes and mine. When she was younger, she made all of her own dresses for her high school dances. My dad played guitar and would sing, play records... We always had music playing in our home, which they built themselves. A rustic log cabin with windows and doors carved by my Uncle. The Amish people drilled our well. Our food, our home, clothing, all made by hand. Rural Wisconsin was far from the epicenter of fashion, but I was pretty mesmerized by it. That world represented self-expression, a bit of fantasy, and individualism all made by hand. I remember getting Vogue delivered in the dead of winter. In the middle of our forest, that was a really big deal for me.


What are your favorite materials to work with?

Leather and studs… I collect strands of vintage vinyl discs from the 1970’s too. Made from vulcanite, the same material used to make LP records, they were worn by African women for various ceremonial purposes. I actually started making jewelry/designing initially, so I could wear them my own way.


Her tote bag pictured comes in gold or silver hardware with a customizable studded leather insert and memento mori skull safety pin charms shown below. Available in-store.


Explain a little about your design process.

I collect materials for my jewelry and leatherwork when I’m drawn to them. Much of my jewelry is made from trade beads steeped in symbolism. Where they were made, how and who traded them/wore them... their history is pretty intriguing to me. The materials usually come before the plan. I’m a nocturnal animal for sure, my best work, I do at night. You know the point when you’re drifting off to sleep and your brain fires off complete randomness? I’ll see different leather patterns/shapes folding and unfolding, hardware and materials floating about in my mind. I’ll get up to get the idea down on paper. Make a pattern, cut it out out of leather, then braid it together. Getting to use the final result is pretty exciting for me. It takes a long time to get something right and I’m a perfectionist. Form and function are equally important. My leather accessories are pretty tough.


What other designers influence you?

Vetements. Their brake light reflector leather booties and sock booties with flamingo cigarette lighter heels are genius. Leather accessories mixed with oversized logo hoodies and sweats does something special to me. Product collabs with Manolo Blahnik, Champion sporting goods, and Carhartt… I mean, who does that?


Tell me about a new favorite piece you created.

Currently working on a custom leather guitar strap for The Black Angels upcoming tour. It’s gonna be super sexy.


How do you like to take a break after spending hours in the studio?

Running on Town Lake. Right now especially. The weather right now is so nice.


What are your favorite trends for Spring/Summer 2017?

Wear whatever makes you feel good. Self-expression is liberating. Individualism looks good on everyone.


Jessy In-store pictured with her camo mini pre-NYE attire and delivering part of her collection we currently carry.


"Before you leave the house look in the mirror and remove one accessory" C. Chanel -Do you agree?


“I don’t have any rules because I would only be breaking them, so it’s a waste of time.” – Iris Apfel

Iris would pile more on. The documentary about her life on Netflix is a favorite of mine. Extraordinary lady.


You have friends in Austin for the weekend, where do you take them?

I’d recommend a stay at Hotel Saint Cecilia or the San Jose. For breakfast I’d go to Counter Café on the east side or Sa-Ten, by my studio, for coffee and their yummy Japanese toast. Walk it off on the Town Lake trails. There are some pretty cool city views from the water we’d visit. An ACL live taping at Moody theater maybe. For a special dinner, my friend Yoshi’s Otoko fair is quite an experience or El Meson on S. Lamar for margaritas and Mexican food. Then to C-Boys or The White Horse to dance. My friends at Antone’s have a great nightclub too.



 Read more about Jessy &
follow her on Instagram @JessyMadeLLC