Posted on March 29 2019
We sat down to chat with the co-founder and designer of Ace & Jig, Cary Vaughn, to learn more about her design process, inspiration, and creating the Ace & Jig community. Read our conversation and then come hear more from Cary at the next Vert & Vogue Happy Hour event on Friday, April 19th, from 5:30 – 6:30pm.
Join us early on Third Friday before Happy Hour from 4:30 – 5:30pm to shop the Ace & Jig Sample Sale. Plus, bring in your gently used Ace & Jig pieces and swap with friends! More details here.
What is the Ace & Jig origin story? How did you and Jenna meet?
We met in Soho Circa 2001! We were the first interns for a company called Language in the fast fashion world of NYC. Jenna was steaming and Cary was ironing. We instantly bonded and discovered we had a shared love of all things vintage, rummaging through antique markets, finding textiles that breathed history and soul. We worked together for many years at Language NYC and LaRok, learned a TON, had endless late nights, traveled the world, and eventually decided to branch out on our own after the births of our first children.
What influences do you draw upon in your designs? Where is your favorite place to find vintage textiles? Where do you go to be inspired?
We have endless baskets of fabric scraps which we reference for patterns, textures, color combinations, and weight, all collected through our collective years of travels. But we also pull inspiration from everything around us - the vibrant colors of a late fall sunset, the vintage yellow of a metal lunchbox, a funny color combo from one of our kids' drawings, the texture in the small lot of rags we bought from a rug salesman in Morocco (who thought we were crazy for buying his rags)....the list goes on.
What does your process to create your textiles look like? Why is it so important to you to create in this very "slow fashion" way?
Each textile begins with an idea and raw cotton – this cotton is spun, dyed, and sun-dried, then our Indian partners weave our initial designs on antique handlooms. The result of these first weavings are what we call desklooms – the first drafts of our textiles! From there we tweak and refine every little thing about the fabric until we reach a result that sparks joy! Only then do we pass the design on to larger autolooms for production.
Our designs really hinge around the textile, which is a fairly unique thing about Ace & Jig. None of our fabrics are sourced or mass-produced, and we start from scratch every new season and create new textures, patterns, and colors. It’s a process that shouldn’t and simply CAN’T be done “fast”.
Ace & Jig has created such a beautiful community and cult following. How did you start fostering this community and its growth? What do you think brought it together?
Our community truly is incredible! Who knew there were so many people out there who felt all the textile emotions (like, Mariah Carey level emotions!) that we did? Our small team really pours out their hearts, and puts their sweat and muscle into the creation and storytelling of each season. Our community has become such a large part of that story. We do whatever we can to include, celebrate, and appreciate the people who have invested in our story.
This means hosting swaps, creating large-scale community collaborations, creating feel-good giveaways, featuring fans on our instagram in their #aceandjig, and giving back to charities that we and our community stand behind.
You are so committed to using every last scrap of fabric. What has been your favorite collaboration to date? Do you have anything you're working on now that you can share?
We’ve done so many amazing no waste collaborations over the years, but our largest and most heartfelt one so far has to be our Ace & Jig Community Quilt! We sent hundreds of volunteers from our community bundles of our leftover scrap fabric. From these scraps, each created one-of-a- kind quilt squares, then sent them back. From these squares, we made 13 (!) jumbo quilts. Each one a testament to our amazing community and to the 9+ years of textiles that we've created.
They are currently featured at an art exhibition at Brookfield Place in NYC! You can visit them all in person and learn more about our no waste process.
There is always a stripe, or two or three, in every Ace & Jig collection. Why do you think the stripe is such a powerful design medium?
We believe yarn-dye stripes, whether created by alternating textures or through pops of saturated color, are an iconic and timeless medium, and an endless source for reinvention. We also love how there are many ways to see, feel, or interpret stripes!
We love following you and Jenna on all your travels, what has been your favorite place to visit?
HARD to pick just one!
1. When we were in our twenties & designers for another company we went on an inspiration trip to Tokyo. MIND BLOWN.
2. Last year we were able to visit Morocco which has been on our hot list for some time. It's like Ace & Jig on steroids.
3. And INDIA of course- where so much of the Ace & Jig magic happens!
As you are based in Brooklyn, we have to ask, what is Brooklyn's best kept secret? Are there any spots that are a must see/do/eat?
AHH.. again so HARD to choose!
See & Do: Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Prospect Park (go ice skating in the winter at LeFrak rink), and Brooklyn Museum
What's next for Ace & Jig?
Our goal is always to do things better, not bigger. We have always been committed to fostering a culture of sustainability within and around our brand, but as time passes we find ourselves getting more deeply entrenched. We have a long list of goals, from giving back in more meaningful ways to continually improving all the ways in which we work and carrying this ethos forward to the lives of our shoppers.
As this is Happy Hour, what is your go-to drink?
Rosé all day for Cary! And beer for Jenna (just no IPAs!)
We hope you'll join us on the 19th of April to visit with our special guests from Ace & Jig, and enjoy a drink on the house! In the meantime, reserve your free tickets and learn more about this months very special Third Friday Happy Hour below.