Raised among cattle and cornfields, JLynn Hausmann sums up her childhood in Butte with one word: “Perfect.”
But these days, Hausmann spends most of her time about 1,500 miles from Butte in Los Angeles, where she launched her clothing line – JHaus – in 2011.
While some might see starting a business in the Golden State as moving on to greener pastures, Hausmann credits this success to her Nebraska roots.
“I’m not a Paris Hilton,” she said with a laugh. “I just think you have to outwork people and create those opportunities, and coming from the Midwest with that kind of work ethic, you can do anything.”
On May 8, Hausmann will be recognized as one of UNL’s Early Achievers for her success with JHaus.
Hausmann graduated in 2004 with a degree in fashion merchandising and marketing and is thankful for the encouragement she received for her Midwest-focused fashion ideas. She speculated that her creativity might have been squashed at other schools.
Her clothing line consists of tops, jackets and jewelry, but is best known for its custom jeans. Each jean fit is named after a family member and is detailed with bolt-shaped buttons and five hash marks on the pockets to symbolize strength.
“I’m not a city girl, so I followed my heart and I followed my roots,” said Hausmann, who designs all of her looks at her family’s farm and ranch in Nebraska.
After graduating, Hausmann studied fashion in Paris and London, received a master’s in business from the University of Phoenix and worked at Neiman Marcus. While she enjoyed working with the other designers, Hausmann always had an itch to start her own clothing line.
“I came to the point where I didn’t want to sit back and talk about it,” Hausmann said. “I call it a leap of faith.”
But it wasn’t a risk-free leap, and not everyone in the fashion industry appreciates Hausmann’s Midwest-inspired style, she said.
She’s heard rude comments or speculation about awards she’s received. Last year she was named one of Zappos’ Emerging Designers and this year Hausmann is one of 10 designers chosen to participate in The Workshop at Macy’s in New York City.
Hausmann was picked from 10,000 applicants to participate in the Macy’s program, giving her added fashion and marketing experience to help grow her business.
Hausmann has learned to tune out the criticism that isn’t helpful for her future in fashion, and to be confident in her brand while taking some calculated risks.
When she designed a couture denim and chicken wire dress, even her dad was a little skeptical, she said. But after the dress debuted on the red carpet the JHaus brand earned critical acclaim for its innovative use of materials and style.
“Another designer told me, ‘Follow your heart,’ because everyone has an opinion, but sometimes you just have to not listen to all of those opinions,” Hausmann said.
Propelled by community support
Hausmann credits family, friends, interns and employees in L.A. and Nebraska for the growth of JHaus. She works to employ individuals who share her dedication to hard work and understand her brand values.
Kylie Bollwitt grew up in O’Neill and met Hausmann a few years ago at Omaha Fashion Week. The two instantly became friends, Bollwitt said, and began working together shortly after they met.
Bollwitt and Hausmann share a love of fashion and a passion to inform others about the talent in small towns.
“We have the opportunity to put Nebraska on the map,” said Bollwitt, who is attending UNL to earn a degree in fashion merchandising while working for Omaha Fashion Week and running her freelance styling business, Styling with Kylie.
The event will feature designers, artists and musicians within a 150-mile radius of O’Neill to showcase Nebraska’s home-grown talent. Bollwitt said there’s often a stigma associated with fashion and small towns, but it’s a stigma she’s working to overcome.
“It’s getting people to come to terms with the fact that we’re established … we’re not just some underdog,” Bollwitt said.
Hausmann visits Nebraska every few months to design and spend time with family. She understands L.A. is the best location for JHaus, but she said she often misses the simplicity of life in the Midwest.
She hopes to someday spend more time in Nebraska, but for now, she’s thankful that her roots have propelled JHaus.
“There are so many people who go to work every day and hate what they do,” she said. “I get to do what I love every day and it doesn’t feel like work.”