Person to Love Hard: Jess Bailey
” Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
Jess Bailey is a creativity machine.
Kind, generous, faithful, and honest- She’s a loving wife, sister, daughter, and mama-to-be. She’ll put you at ease with her bubbly, positive personality and then knock you out with her general badass-ery.
This chick gets shit done.
*disclaimer- Jess was 3 months pregnant and I was breast-feeding when we did this interview. There were hormones everywhere. Just… hormones flying through the air, smacking into each other, and bursting into tears. It was intense.
I love my husband like crazy, I never thought I could love someone as much as I love him.
I’m very loyal and very protective.
I’m an easy going person, it takes a lot to make me mad, but if you mess with my people?
That’s when it’s like… “Ok…nice Jess gets serious and is about to throw down”
The meanest thing I’ve ever done was when I was in the fourth grade. I had big glasses and was a TINY, nerdy little kid.
There was this sixth grade boy who was obsessed with my sister. He had been taunting her and being really obnoxious for awhile, but one day at recess while he was being a jerk, he pulled my friend’s hair.
That was the last straw.
I turned, looked at him, and yelled really loud. He jumped and looked up at me and ran away, so I chased after him and I tripped him and kicked him with my imitation doc martins and made him cry.
So yeah… don’t mess with my family.
I’m very much an introvert, but I grew up in a family of extreme extroverts.
My mom makes five new best friends on the elevator.
In contrast, I was a very shy child. I would always hide behind my sister and peek around when I met new people.
I’m younger, so when she started doing theater, of course I wanted to do theater as well, but then we had to take an improv class…
Eight years old in an improv class?
I cried in the corner the entire time.
But somehow I stuck with it, and I’m grateful I did because it helped me find my voice- literally and metaphorically.
Even though I was really shy, I had a really loud singing voice. So I would go into auditions, whisper my name so quietly they could barely hear me, and then belt my brains out.
I’ve always loved art and making things with my hands.
I’ve always felt very fulfilled when I get to express myself creatively.
When I was applying to colleges, I knew I loved kids, and I loved teaching.
Introducing people to new things; sharing something that I learned with other people. That has always been fascinating to me.
But then I also loved acting, and the reason I loved acting was that I got to put myself into other people’s shoes and understand humanity better. I got to share and experience different stories.
So I applied to be an education major and then auditioned for some acting programs on a whim.
I got into the BFA acting program at USC and graduated from there.
I loved it. I’ll never regret doing it, but when I graduated I felt very naive because I didn’t really think about the business side of it.
I followed my heart and my passion… and the dream career is to make your passion your job, right? To have it make you money and get you food and shelter.
But I struggled a lot with not fully loving it. It’s a hard life and it has to be all you want to do, and at the end of the day-
I was more excited to stay home and craft.
I grew up volunteering with my sister: we would run silent auctions, fundraisers, and events my mom was hosting and I would put together decorations for parties and for fundraisers at the theaters I worked at after college.
My sister and I thought…maybe we could do this…. so we started a business and a DIY blog to share all our decor, party and event ideas.
We had the business for a little bit but we didn’t really make any money and it was hard because I live in LA and she lives in San Diego. Then an acquaintance from college remembered that I was getting into events and parties and recommended me for a job at Evite, where I work now.
I was really excited. I love the design and staging side of events but I hate coordinating, so this was perfect.
Coming from the freelance world, I always approached things with this wide-eyed curiosity. I wasn’t corporate, so I wasn’t afraid to raise my hand in meetings and ask what things meant whenever I didn’t know.
Evite was very supportive of me trying new things- like– we need a video– well, I’ve never made a video before but I’d be happy to try! — or we need to do stop motion— I’ve never done that before but I’d love to give it a shot.
It’s also something that I set out for on my own. No one got this for me.
I had to prove myself time and time again and there were tests.
There was a tech guy at work, kind of a grump, who came up to me at one point and said “Why are you here? What do you even do?”
I was in the midst of three weeks of back to back photoshoots, working 20 hour days, I hadn’t slept- and I turned to him and told him exactly what I did…then went into the stairwell and cried for two minutes, composed myself, went back and pulled an all-nighter and went to set the next day.
Women are badass.
We can multi-task like nobody’s business.
Once we had a campaign with a client that needed to be delivered the next day, and we didn’t find this out until 5pm the night before.
So I said “Give me the products, I will be back here at 5 tomorrow.”
I left work, went prop shopping, stayed up until 3 prepping the DIY, woke up early and was spray painting outside in my back patio before anyone else was awake. I designed, styled, shot, and edited the shoot all while on a conference call prepping for another shoot.
With earbuds in my ears on the call, I handed my husband my camera, he put it on mute and took the shot, I edited it, packaged it, and sent it to the client by 5.
There are so many stories like that. And I’m so proud of myself for them.
I think I’m a lot calmer and can handle so much more now.
I’ve learned to be badass at creative problem solving.
No matter how crazy it gets- I have dealt with crazy, and I’ve gotten it done. By the grace of god, but I’ve done it.
Whatever problem is thrown at me, whatever crazy client shows up to the shoot and wants to change everything… it’s gonna be fine.
I’m still my own harshest critic, but it has really helped build my confidence in what I am capable of and what I can accomplish.
Where I am right now is- I’ve been training the next group, because work is really great and they’ve allowed me to hire more people to our team so I’m not just a one woman army, so I’m in this transition of letting go of a lot of what I used to do and looking for what that next thing is.
I’ve kind of combined stylist and art director and creative producer all into one job, which is a lot, so I’m trying to take parts that I want to invest in and grow and focus on them.
It comes at a very perfect time in my life because, as you know, I’m 14 weeks pregnant with our first child.
I’m definitely in a season of transition and a season of discovery and self reflection.
I’m crazy excited.
I’ve always wanted to be a mom.
I’ve been praying, I remember very distinctly, since I was 13 years old. Praying for my future husband and for my future kids.
Hell if I know!
I’m excited and terrified and all the things that come with pregnancy and bringing a human being into this world and trying not to break it.
I’m really excited, there’s a lot of what-if’s but I’m just trying to trust and focus on the day to day.
The symptoms suck but I love feeling them because it makes it real.
I feel like I am in a season of self reflection and learning to let go.
Learning to take care of myself and learning to slow down.
The world and life and my body is – physically, mentally, all of the above- telling me to slow down.
And I’m really grateful for it.
I have a really amazing husband and really wonderful relationship… we’re just so excited…I can’t wait to see JJ as a dad!
I do have a small worry.
I know myself, and I know that raising my kids is really important. Being there for them, especially at a young age.
But I also know that I’m not a person to sit around. I hustle. I’m a do-er.. And I know that that’s how I feel fulfilled.
It doesn’t matter what I do but I always have to DO.
Creativity makes me feel the most alive.
The most who I am.
I know that I will have to do something as a creative outlet or something creatively fulfilling after the baby comes.
So I’m just a little worried to… to make it all work.
I’m really grateful for my job and I really love the opportunities that I have, but I don’t know what that next chapter is gonna look like.
I’m trying to really take time to think about what I want… and go from there.
With a little baby.
Whole new world.
I’m really good at neglecting myself- that’s something I’m working on.
I already love this baby like crazy, the second I saw it on the sonogram I was done.
But I know that one of the best gifts I can give my future child is a strong marriage.
I know that’s gonna be such a great example for that baby and I know that if I take care of myself I can take care of us.
I know these things— but I also know myself and I know that it’s gonna be hard for me to put it into action. And you’re exhausted and you’re keeping a little thing alive that is a million percent dependent on you.
I’m just trying to stay as self aware as possible and voice concerns, not only to myself but to JJ so that he knows how he can help encourage me in different ways.
I always tell him “Here are my fears. I just need to vocalize them so you can help me later and remind me of what’s important when I haven’t showered in ten days and I’m covered in baby spit-up and I’m just siting here eating goldfish.”
In my professional career, I’ve had a lot of uphill battles.
I really love proving people wrong.
That fuels me… maybe in an unhealthy way. I think because I was a very shy child and I’m the youngest, the baby in the family, and no one really thought much of what I could accomplish. They just thought Oh, she’s cute!
And I’m like – no, I can freaking do things. Look what I can do. Look what I can accomplish.
I know I’m nice and bubbly and people tend to not take me seriously, but I’m not going to change who I am, that’s just who I am.
So I kick ass.
And they’re like, holy crap- she’s nice and she kicks ass.
Something I’ve always struggled with is my self worth.
I’ve always had an issue with my self worth and so I think that’s why I like proving people wrong and showing what I can do… that I have worth.
I’m so bad at working for myself, but the second I’m working for someone else, I am the first one there, last one to leave, hardest worker ever.
Why don’t I do that for myself? What the heck?
I’m working on that.
I live in Los Angeles, in Century City.
I’ve always lived on the west side. I grew up in San Diego so being by the ocean is definitely a comfort to me.
I’m a California baby, I love the sunshine. Gloomy weather makes me sad.
I don’t know what seasons are.
I like LA, I love the people that I’ve been able to know and meet here more than the city itself.
If I could live anywhere… I love London and New York.
I was able to study abroad in London and fell in love with it.
Before JJ and I got married we had a couple nights of asking every question… we wanted to know everything about each other. And I asked him where he would live if he could live anywhere, and he said New York and London.
Also, Tahiti or somewhere that’s the best surf spot in the world…
And I thought, sure I’d go there too! Twist my arm.
So we made a deal that if an opportunity arose for either of us , whether it was 6 months or two years- to live anywhere else, we would absolutely go.
I am such a homebody, and I love creating a home and warm, comforting environment… Netflix and chill all day every day… but I also love exploring new places and I love traveling. I’m so blessed that JJ is both sides of that coin.
I loved Italy.
It was magical.
JJ and I got to go for two weeks and it was one of our first adult (#adulting) trips.
I’m such a planner, and JJ likes to wander and get lost, but I found a balance!
I planned out every hour… but then I planned four hours to get lost!
Everyday. Get lost time.
And those were some of our favorite memories.
Making something out of nothing.
Belting out a song.
I love singing and I don’t really do it anymore besides in the shower or in the car- who doesn’t love sitting in traffic and belting out a song and not caring what people think!
Not to be sappy but… JJ’s arms.
I’m crazy in love with him.
That makes me feel like I can fly.
When I was a kid I told my parents what I wanted to do when I grew up is make art out of trash and live with them forever.
I love shopping…anywhere, I could be walking through Home Depot and see a bunch of bolts and my first thought is- What could I make out of that?
When I first started the business with my sister, we would plan fundraisers for our friend’s non profits and the budget was under $100.
Once I made an entire backdrop wall of rosettes from scratch- spray painted them white , gold , and glitter- all out of a stack of printer paper.
I spelled out DREAMER in 7 giant three-foot pinatas out of gold mylar and cardboard- for $11.50.
I saw these jeans in Anthropologie that were polka dotted for $200 and thought- screw that, I’ll make them. At home I pulled out old jeans and got a pencil, eraser, and paint and was on the ground polka-dotting jeans at 11pm.
Thank god, the living with my parents forever did not work out…
But, I kind of make art out of trash!
Never stop growing, never stop learning, always be curious.
At the same time, show yourself grace.
Allow yourself to take breaks.
I would have tried 5 different ways to do a DIY project and they were all fails, so I would go get a cookie.
Take a break, and then come back and try again.
And always have cookies.
Creativity is a muscle, the more you use it the more you have.
With my job, I have deadlines, and I’ll have to formulate a pitch in ten minutes- the more you do it the more creative you get.
Creativity spurs creativity.
And surround yourself with like-minded people.
You’ll create a support system, and collaborating with other people is also a really great way to stay creatively inspired.
Stand in the sun and close my eyes.
Listen to really good music.
Spend time with people I love.
See theater, go to flea markets or a craft fair, go to a workshop.
I am religious, so sitting, being still and quiet, prayer. Prayer puts me at peace and puts things back into perspective and allows me to let things go.
I am a very stubborn person and I’m very hard on myself.
Any hardships or heartbreaks I’ve faced- my biggest prayer was “Please help me to stay strong but not have a hard heart- let me keep a soft heart.” I’m very grateful and I think God definitely answered that in that he’s building me up as a strong woman but allowing me to keep my softness and my humble confidence. Humility and confidence seem like such a juxtaposition…but that is what I constantly strive for.
I so admire successful people that are humble.
My mom also likes to boast a lot and that’s always rubbed me the wrong way so I think I even went in a bit of an unhealthy opposite direction. So I’ve been building myself up from that.
I used to not want to succeed because I didn’t want to give my mom something to brag about. She was being proud of her child, that’s 100% normal, but it made me so upset. It’s my trigger.
I’m self-depricating almost to a fault because I want to stay humble and don’t want to come across as bragging. People will talk about something and I’ll want to share, I’ll want to relate, but the second I share something I’ll think- oh is this getting braggy? And then I’ll back peddle and say something stupid about myself and beat myself up.
Done. Easiest answer ever.
That’s kind of a cheat. It’s not about me it’s about the baby…I’m doing everything to take care of the baby.
Surrounding myself with people who love me for who I am, and not for what I can do for them or how I can make them feel. Just knowing me to the core and loving me still.
JJ told me at one point…yeah I’m gonna cry… he looked at me one day and I was beating myself up about something- and he told me,
“I know my life purpose. My life purpose is to make you realize how amazing you are.”
You’re your own harshest critic and you’re hardest on yourself and you always question and doubt yourself and to have someone that knows you better than you know yourself and sees…. chooses to see all the good and show grace for all the bad…
He’s teaching me to love myself better , for how he loves me.
I give my time.
I try to make someone smile or have a better day, whenever I can. Whether it’s buying a little something that reminds me of them or throwing a party to celebrate someone.
I have a lot of friends who are heavily involved in non-profits and I am crazy proud of them.
I definitely try to support all of those the best I can.
This past year my family went through a lot.
My mom was sick and going through rehab and recovery from surgery.
JJ and I drove down to San Diego every weekend for five months. It was hard at times but it was really cool to build an adult relationship with my dad.
My dad is such an amazing man and I love him so much but I’ve always been his little girl, and we had to have some hard, adult conversations.
He would call me crying- I’ve only seen him cry twice in my life- and I didn’t know what to say…I would think:
I don’t have all the answers but I will make myself available and I will love you like crazy through everything.
I don’t know if it’s helping but I will be there regardless to let you know that you are loved.
Being present and showing that you care.
The little quiet things.
Words of affirmation.
Validation through words.
I’m a hugger. I meet people for the first time and they reach out to shake my hand and I jump on them.
I love to show love.
(not in a slutty way… I’m a prude.)
The classiest of prudes! Thank you for your honesty and vulnerabilty, your kindness and patience, and your constant enthusiasm and support for anything new or creative…you’re a special lady.
And… Since it took me 6 months to actually sit down and finish this edit…Jess recently had her baby!!!
A beautiful, perfect little boy named Jackson.
She already is such a fantastic mama…nuturing, patient, and kind. And man, that kid is gonna have the most amazing birthday parties!
I’m so excited for playdates, and mama beach escapes… preferably with donuts and wine.