Today we have a special treat, an introduction to one of the most inspiring people in San Francisco, brilliant creator Jillian Knox. Here at Anna Monet, we are inspired by Jillian's unique sense of color, unstoppable style, and unbound creativity. Quite literally, anything Jillian touches turns to gold. From her brilliant styling and photography to an exciting new artisan business venture, there is so much to admire about this woman! I am beyond excited to share her story with you today.
Briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
It's a very funny story, but it's long. So if your readers want the Cliffnotes upfront here it is: life may not tell you what you're doing and why, but it's for a reason; those skills you've accumulated working at say at a restaurant as a hostess, or that marine biology class you took in high school but all of that will be useful someday and you'll be able to lean on that to accomplish your goals and be the best person you've been dreaming to be.
I started as an art nerd kid who fell in love with photography and being able to create beautiful images from an idea. I went to Savannah College of Art and Design and graduated with a BFA in Photography. This was 2008. Fun economic times! Not really. No one was hiring a freshly dewy photo kid because those jobs weren't a priority at the time. So I was dating this guy (who is now my husband) and he showed me the magic of selling on Ebay. I was bouncing between jobs as a hostess and as a sales associate at Benetton and literally was so strapped for cash it was super hard to even feed myself sometimes. I started by selling Dooney & Bourke bags and some old dresses from some of my college photoshoots. I sold everything in about a week and I was pretty much hooked. By 2009, I opened my vintage shop Joules Jewels Vintage which I shopped, cleaned, styled and photographed items for about ten years. During that time, I opened an art gallery in Chicago which I ran for a year before moving to San Francisco. I didn't work full-time until we started planning our wedding. I got a job working at a super old school wholesale clothing company in San Francisco and leaned hard on my degree to get my foot in. As I was feeling not as fulfilled as I used to working full-time, my friend and I started a vegan food blog. We did recipe testing, writing, and partnered with brands and developed recipes for them to share--we even had a product line. My job was to work on the recipes, styling and photography. My friend who is an editor cooked with me and did most of the copywriting and website development. I moved on to work in house as a stylist for a fashion tech company where I used images I shot for the wholesale company and my own vintage store to get the job. After a year and some change working there, I left and decided that this was the perfect time to dive in head first and become a freelancer. I've never looked back.
What inspired you to move to San Francisco, and what influence, if any, did the city have on you over the years?
When my husband got promoted (we were dating and pretty serious), I was really into the idea. I'd already moved/lived in a few places by this point and I was itching to see what else was out there.
San Francisco has been really interesting for me. I'm originally from DC and this was total culture shock. I also noticed that when we first came here, people didn't really dress that well; lots of black and grey, no tailoring, no accessories, etc. I've seen more color and more freedom of self expression these days than I have in a while.
Self portrait by Jillian
How would you describe your relationship with style and design? What or who has influenced you the most?
I would say my relationship is strong and complicated. On one hand I feel so free with my own self-expression and I get dressed with my instincts and some humor. On the other hand I see how formulaic dressing has become and the shopping experiences are not what they used to be. So basically, my wish is for people to be more free.
I'm a maximalist through and through. More is more is more. So I really love Diana Vreeland, Eartha Kitt, Frida Khalo, Erykah Badu and Prince. I also really love the way older people dress themselves and just being as swaggy as they want. Iris Apfel, Advanced Style Blog, and even Black Churchgoers are some of my inspirations. I also love the Bauhaus movement and what it meant to bring aesthetic and design into your everyday life (and the communal art experience is something that also resonates with me a lot).
Jillian by Monica Semergiu
What color palette inspires you in 2021?
I've been really focused on growing our brand Casa Ojo, and the color palette we have has been really inspiring to me right now. I love the Barragan pink variation we have and my favorite color is green so I'm always attracted to that. I think any color palette that makes me feel like I'm on vacation is the best one for this year...since vacationing has been put on hold for the most part.
Jillian by Karen Santos
What are your goals/resolutions for this new year? Any exciting projects you want to share?
I think my biggest goal would be to listen to my body more. These times are stressful enough, and we need to be mindful that we are just as important if not more important than the cacophony around us.
I've had the greatest honor to be asked to participate in the creation of a book called Black Food by Bryant Terry. I'm so excited to work with a super creative team which is led by George McCalman. It will be out this fall. I'm also working on some personal projects with some photographer friends that I'll be sharing as the year progresses on.
When do you feel your best, most connected self?
When I take a bath. When I'm on set. When I get dressed in the morning.
Cover photo by Karen Santos. Written by Jillian Knox, 2021.