Every issue, GRAZIA USA highlights Game Changers who inspire, educate and celebrate individuality, beauty and style. Meet Jessie James Decker, a country star, cookbook author, and the founder of Kittenish, her successful fashion empire.
I’ve always been the type of person who loves being busy and having my hands full. I was raised by my mother, who told me I could do anything I wanted to do. I’ve always felt limitless in that way. I enjoy dabbling in so many different things — from fashion to music to cooking — and I’ve never wanted to limit myself.
I always knew I wanted to have a fashion line. In high school, I started sketching outfits I dreamed of wearing onstage. I loved Selena Quintanilla, an incredible artist and entertainer, who also had her own clothing line and boutique. I felt if she could do it, so could I.
I knew as young as 15 that I would call the clothing line I’d create one day Kittenish. I started by partnering with a now-defunct brand on a small online collection, which provided me with good experience. As soon as that line sold out, I knew I was onto something big. I started out by making a variety of cute flannels, plaid shirts, cutoff shorts and T-shirts because I am just a girl from Georgia who likes to dress comfortably.
Then, I decided to open a brick-and-mortar store. Everyone told me not to do it, but I proved them wrong and had more sales than I could handle within the first month. From there, I knew I could take it to the next level, and we launched an online business and it blew up. It was supposed to be a little side hustle for fun, and it turned into a multimillion-dollar brand.
My husband, Eric Decker, serves as Kittenish President, but he didn’t plan on getting involved. He has a degree in business management and is so smart, so he stepped in when I was struggling, and he really helped us grow the business. We don’t step on each other’s toes, and our working relationship naturally fell into place. Hiring the right people is important — and don’t be afraid to reach out to your competitors. I have no shame in asking them: “What would you do in this situation?”
I’ve evolved into the woman I am today along with my fashion, and our customers have too. But we still maintain the identity of Kittenish, which is affordable, comfortable and fashion-forward but not over-the-top. It’s trendy and accessible. This is our third year releasing our Basics collection, which includes bodysuits, bralettes and more, and we continue to crush it. Going forward, I would love to expand into beauty and luggage.
I am very much a results-oriented person. I’m very analytical, and I like to create and sell products which meet our customers’ needs. I love creating a piece with my team and knowing in my heart it’s going to make someone happy. I love that our products make people feel beautiful and their absolute best — that is my favorite part.
One of my biggest challenges is keeping up with the evolving world of social media; it’s not the same as it was three years ago. At that time, I could post something on Instagram and it would reach 3 million of my followers. With today’s changing algorithms, that may not happen, so I have to keep figuring out other ways to market online.
We have four Kittenish stores, located in Nashville, Dallas, Tampa and Scottsdale, but I would love to open one in New York; that’s a huge goal of mine. I am so lucky to have a group of smart, quick-learning co-workers around me, and I am fortunate we all work so well together. I’d love for Kittenish to continue to grow and expand. My goal is to have as many people as possible fall in love with the brand.
Since we launched, we’ve hit all of our goals and expectations, and I am so proud of the work we’ve done. My mom always told me. “If you can see it, believe it, achieve it.” I live by that and it’s what I tell my kids — you can make anything happen.
I am currently working on new music and my third cookbook, which comes out in the fall. It’s constantly a balancing act, but my family always comes first. I always wanted to be a country singer and get into fashion, but I never thought I would be writing cookbooks! My career has taken me on a different journey than I could have dreamed, and I am so grateful.
— As told to Jaclyn Roth
Read GRAZIA USA’s Spring issue featuring cover star Lucy Boynton: