Jessie & Brian
Photography by Meredith Jenks
Jessie Randall and Brian Murphy first set eyes on each other in 1998. In 2004, the couple founded accessories company, Loeffler Randall, and have been working on life together ever since.
On first meeting
BRIAN: I’m going to let you talk.
JESSIE: We met working in advertising. It was basically my first job out of college. We met at this really amazing Minneapolis based agency that was in New York and I was an assistant account executive on a toilet paper account and it was very glamorous (laughs). Brian was a graphic designer at this award winning graphic design shop in the company.
JESSIE: We worked together for about a year before we ever started dating. But, we’re actually from the same town, which is this very weird connection we made right away. I’m from Central Massachusetts and Brian’s entire family is from there and his parents had met there. His father went to the same school that my brother went to, so it was this very weird kismet. He took me out for our first date to Raoul’s.
BRIAN: Yeah, just down the road.
JESSIE: He said he was gonna 'go large' because he might not get a second date.
BRIAN: True. True.
JESSIE: But you were also very cocky.
BRIAN: Well, yeah. I mean. Maybe.
JESSIE: He’s five years older than me, so.
TWP: Did you have an idea of what you wanted?
BRIAN: No, I don’t think so.
JESSIE: Well we first started kind of talking at work because I was running the marathon and you were like, I’m going to design the logo for you to wear on your shirt. We tried to pretend we weren’t dating at work for a very long time. We were hiding the fact that we were dating. I think it was kind of obvious because we were almost living together and he would drive me to work on his bicycle in the morning on the handle bars.
We tried to pretend we weren’t dating at work for a very long time.
JESSIE: I knew that I didn’t want to do advertising and I really wanted to get into fashion design, Brian and his father were encouraging me that I had to make things happen. At the time I was really young. When we first started dating I was 22. I had put three years in working in advertising and I felt like I was too old to change careers at that point. But it was just not what I wanted to do, so they encouraged me to go back to school and get my foot in the door in fashion. I ended up working in fashion and then we got married. He wouldn’t move in with me unless we were engaged.
BRIAN: Yeah yeah. I do see more and more often that people are just long term partners and have children.
JESSIE: But you [to Brian] wanted the legal, dotted line thing. I was 23 when we got engaged and I wasn’t even thinking about getting married, but I was definitely thinking about living with him because I was basically living out of a backpack and he wouldn’t live with me unless we were engaged so we got engaged very quickly- within a year of us dating (laughs). He was very very sweet to me, less sweet now. He used to get me a present every single day. We met in the end of 1998, started dating in fall of 1999 and got engaged in 2000.
BRIAN: And we got married in 2003.
JESSIE: We had a really long engagement. That was ideal with him because I was like 'I’ll get engaged, but I’m not getting married until my age is much much older.'
BRIAN: That caught me a little sideways because from 2000 to 2004, I was in different agencies and it was not a good time. I was part freelance and she was back at school. It was a little bit of career transition. That’s when I went to work at Loeffler full time, which I did in ‘05 full time.
JESSIE: Which he did without telling me (laughs). Well we were working together. He was working around the clock. He would go to work at Ogilvy, work all day there, and then he would spend all night doing stuff for our company.
BRIAN: Both our parents were not very supportive of us starting a business together, especially my parents saying I know you’re going to fail. There was no indication we were going to fail; we were doing fine. The business was pretty successful right from the first season. We would do trade shows. It was a different industry back then. No one could find out about new brands unless there was a trade show in Las Vegas called ‘The Collections’ at WSA and they had a lot of really nice footwear in a row in a hotel- Marc by Marc Jacobs and Chanel. And this was the first three years.
JESSIE: When Brian and I were both working we knew that we were both entrepreneurs and we wanted to start our own thing. I was feeling a little burnt out because I had just been working so hard at my job. Brian had the idea. He said you’re obsessed with shoes and you spend every weekend looking for vintage shoes. Every time we’d go on a vacation or some of his friends would be getting married and we would go to the wedding and everyone else would be going to the beach and we would be going to all these thrift shops digging through dirty barrels looking for vintage clothes and shoes. He was like you love shoes so much, we just have to do shoes. At this point I’ve never designed shoes before, all I know is it’s very technical. He said we’re launching for fall ‘05 so you have six weeks to go figure it out. So he was really tough on me.
He would go to work at Ogilvy, work all day there, and then he would spend all night doing stuff for our company.
JESSIE: I ended up taking this course and learning all about shoe constructions and through some contacts that I had we were able to get a factory and an agent in Italy. We got our first collection made. I had a contact at Steven Alan and they saw the prototypes and they were like “We’re signing you.” We got them and then we did this trade show and our first account was Bergdorf Goodman our first season. It really did take off. There was a lot of pressure on it. As Brian said, our families, mostly his family were very discouraged about it and discouraging. Actually, so many people outside our family were discouraging about it.
BRIAN: I think it is hard, and it's a pretty common thing.
JESSIE: It was like this has to work out. I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t like oh well we will just start something else if this fails. It was like this is our one chance in life to do this.
BRIAN: We got big enough fast enough. It was easier then. It was in Dumbo in a tiny room. We started the company in our apartment.
JESSIE: I worked out of our apartment. I’m a really chatty person so I’m always talking to people. I ended up going crazy because I’d be at home all day by myself and so we ended up getting a dog. I was really eager to start working with other people and me sitting in my house all day wasn’t really working. But we did that for the first year and then we moved into a small office.
JESSIE: I’m a capricorn. A very typical capricorn. The funny thing is we were working with life coach, this older man that we were talking to on the phone because we were really stressed out. We got giant white boards and we hung them up on this one big long wall. We had everything planned out on our wall. There was no separation, we didn’t really have a life we were just working 24/7. Brian doesn’t like to be bored, he likes to have a lot going on. He is like a workaholic. I love that he is the most generous person that I’ve ever met. He is incredibly kind and generous and he has given me a life that is so different from what I could have ever imagined. I love his eyes and I like that he is happy go lucky and so much more of an optimist than I am. He lives his life kind of large, much larger than I was ever exposed to as a kid, and he likes to go over the top on things.
BRIAN: Jessie is very thoughtful and very caring. She is very genuine and honest and I think we’ve been very good about being clear. We’re able to sort of disagree about things.
JESSIE: We disagree a lot. We balance each other out. You know he’s strong where I am weak and I’m stronger where he’s weaker. We have complementary skill sets. We have very similar guts and tastes on things.
BRIAN: We have very similar guts.
Living and working together
JESSIE: I wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t think it's the best way to conduct a marriage, but it’s the only way that I know because we’ve always worked together. It works for us. We never are apart so we never say goodbye to each other.
BRIAN: The first agency we were at they were like ok we’re going to start a small agency within the agency and they asked myself and Jessie, so we’ve always worked together...even planning the wedding. That was our first time we really worked together.
JESSIE: We had no money and we wanted everything to be custom done. It sounds really ridiculous, but after we planned our wedding we were like we can do anything. I don’t think that we should be giving advice. I always try to remind myself with him that when he gets upset about something it's not necessarily that he’s angry it's just that he feels passionately about something.
BRIAN: It's hard. You have to be able to find some way to process it all. New York is very pressure-cookery. That is starting to wear a little bit- how type A the city is.
JESSIE: We have a very extreme life. We’ve got a lot going on at work and we get home and we have these three really high energy children. It never stops for us.
BRIAN: We don’t have those chill kids.
JESSIE: I always wanted kids.
BRIAN: I never thought that much about it. I worked for this guy once, though, and he pulled me aside and he said don’t wait too long to have kids. In retrospect, it is very true. It is very rewarding. It is a lot of work.
JESSIE: The cellular damage alone. We look a lot older. We both used to look unusually young.
BRIAN: She used to look like she was 15 years younger than she was.
JESSIE: It’s not perfect, it’s messy.
BRIAN: I think it's important to acknowledge that it’s ok that if you disagree.
JESSIE: But we do have a much more intense relationship because we’re together all the time.
BRIAN: I think that’s true. Some people only see each other like an hour a week.
JESSIE: I think he’d love that! (laughs) I was saying to someone the other day he just keeps moving from side to side but he’s always next to me. I am much more co-dependent. I like to be around someone all the time. I just like to have him near me. He just wanders off. He’s much more of an independent person.
BRIAN: I think it’s more that with children there is a loss of self, so I am always just trying to regain self. But as a dad, most of it has got to go.
JESSIE: He tries to get his alone time during the day and the really great thing is that we do very different things at the company. It's not like we’re both sitting there tying a shoe. We work together in marketing and running the company, but that’s it.
BRIAN: We have large areas where we overlap.
I think it’s more that with children there is a loss of self, so I am always just trying to regain self. But as a dad, most of it has got to go.
JESSIE: We had two kids immediately. We were each holding a baby. There were two babies and there were two of us. So we never had that give and take. We definitely divide and conquer. He pays all the bills and I buy all the birthday presents. I organize everything socially and I buy all the groceries and he makes the bed. I think that just kind of happens where you just have your set things that you end up taking on. He used to get really involved in the interior design of the house. Every single thing was so over thought. I used to always ask him and it would always be a fight, but now I just buy what I want. It works so much better.
JESSIE: We go away to the beach on the weekends. For me, that is my relaxation. He’s really into fitness. We haven’t been too good about carving out the time for the two of us because we always have the kids.
BRIAN: You have to be pretty adamant that it has to work for you. You have to make sure you’re getting equal back that you’re giving, for work and for a relationship.
JESSIE: Someone was just asking me about my insecurities and I was saying that I just turned 40 this year so that was kind of a big milestone for me. I don’t really feel insecure in my life. I feel pretty confident in who I am and I think I feel confident in things I am not great at. I think it’s ok to not be the best at everything. I’m at a point in my life where I am happy with who I am. I think I know what my strengths are and I am just trying to embrace the things about myself that maybe are not the best. Maybe the things that I am not great at make me unique and make me special. Obviously I’m still trying to improve myself but I don’t feel insecure very often in my life. I feel very confident about the things that matter to me most.
You have to make sure you’re getting equal back that you’re giving, for work and for a relationship.
BRIAN: For New York, it is important to realize that there is always going to be something more. It is like an impossible standard. It is not like a bracket challenge. Some of the things that are common here are not common where I am from.
JESSIE: Brian is a gentleman.
BRIAN: There should be a little bit more respect.
JESSIE: I was lucky that I met him when he was ready to settle down.
BRIAN: I think that is a negative factor here.
JESSIE: Brian was like we’re going to get married, we’re going to have kids. I think he is old fashion in that way.
BRIAN: Where I am from, Chicago, it’s a different thing.