WAKING up to a slew of messages on the morning of August 23, Byron Bay fashion designer Jessica Johansen-Bell was shocked to discover her small label, Johansen, had been endorsed by makeup mogul and reality TV star, Kylie Jenner.
Not only had the 21-year-old mum of six-month-old Stormi posted one image of herself wearing the $349 Johansen Corset Jumper Dress to her 114 million followers, she proceeded to post three more shots posing in the off-the-shoulder white dress and a pair of embellished black over-the-knee boots in her hotel room after the MTV Video Music Awards in New York.
Self-taught designer Jessica, 23, has since between approached by stylists for E! News, Ariana Grande and Jenner’s big sister Kim Kardashian who’ve requested look books for her new collection which is set to launch in three weeks, and has been inundated with a record number of orders from around the globe.
“It is life-changing,” Johansen told WHO on August 28. “There are three of us who work in the store and I have had to call everyone in today because it has been crazy. I have a beautiful store in Bangalow but I am considering taking the business all online as my online market has just exploded from this.”
Raised on a 20-acre farm in the Byron Bay hinterland, Johansen-Bell worked at the chic Island Luxe boutique at Bangalow for three years where she “learned everything about fabrics and clothing and fits.”
“I was so inspired,” said Johansen, who considers the Kardashian/Jenner sisters and Vogue Australia Fashion Director, Christine Centenera as muses. “I didn’t study fashion but I went for it.”
Johansen launched her brand in 2015 and released just four styles, which her boss at the time snapped up in every colour. The collection sold out within three days.
She opened her first store in a shed in “the back streets” of Bangalow before moving her boutique to the main street. In the weeks leading up to Jenner’s much-hyped 21st birthday celebrations, Johansen and her team posted the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star a gift package, including their 100 per cent silk Cha dress.
After checking to see Jenner received the package, they were shocked to discover the entrepreneur had posted a video on her Instagram Stories wearing the silk dress the very same day she received it.
Weeks after their brand’s triumphant moment, Johansen received an email from Jenner’s stylist and sent her a package of options for her milestone birthday bash, including the now coveted Corset Jumper dress.
“I knew she wouldn’t wear my label for her 21st as my clothes aren’t extravagant – they are more for every day - but I was more than happy to send her pieces,” said Johansen. "They sent a couple back and she chosen to keep a few.”
While Jenner opted for a Dundas satin wrap-dress and pink sequined La Bourjoisie jumpsuit for her star-studded Barbie-themed party at Delilah on August 9, the label made enough of an impression on the star to do an impromptu photo shoot in the Corset Jumper Dress.
“I woke up and my phone was going off,” Johansen said. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw Kylie did four posts in my dress. It’s insane!”
Then in-demand designer is now considering a trip to LA for meetings and to showcase her new collection in the coming weeks.
“We have had an influx of orders from America and now all over Australia,” said Johansen. “It’s just taken off. It’s really exciting."