Interviews

Jenny Hill of Lonesome Traveler

Jenny Hill—the designer and maker behind the beloved St. Louis-based menswear accessory line, Lonesome Traveler—creates ties and pocket squares that are carefully designed and skillfully constructed by hand. Her personal story is a life less lonesome than the name suggests—made of traveling, collecting and creating. Each tie holds a story, as she selects high-quality fabrics from around the globe. Lonesome Traveler has a certain quality and uniqueness beyond replication; unlike mass-produced products that become the norm - exchanging origination for presumed discount.

Tell us how Lonesome Traveler came to life. What inspired you to create your line of ties?

The response I got during the holiday season made me realize I had created something special, and I began my transition to making Lonesome Traveler a full-time job.

Before moving to St Louis I spent a single year in Dallas, TX while my husband completed a medical fellowship at UT Southwestern. I was working as a personal trainer and cooked at a vegan diner.

I needed a way to spend my free time and harness my creative energy. Thus, Lonesome Traveler was created, in my kitchen using my Singer I bought when I was 16 years old and vintage fabric I had been collecting. I have a degree in interior design but have always loved fashion, and more specifically menswear. I also noticed that there was a lack of products aimed towards men in the world of high-end, handcrafted goods. This was right before Christmas 2015, and the response I got during the holiday season made me realize I had created something special, and I began my transition to making Lonesome Traveler a full-time job.

What do you keep in mind when you're fabric shopping for your collection?

When searching for new fabrics I keep three things in mind; quality, feel, and aesthetic. I use a mix of vintage, dead stock, and new fabrics. Quality is the first thing I look at and is non-negotiable for my products. I try to work with 100% natural fabrics, either linen or cotton. This is one reason I love working with vintage fabric when possible, as it is generally very well crafted. Next, it's the way the fabric feels, or the "hand" of the fabric.  I am a very tactile person, and I need the fabric to feel just right, and have the correct weight for the end product I have in mind. Finally, and most importantly, I look at the aesthetic of the fabric - the color, pattern, and style. This process is impossible to put in words, but it is the most creative part of the process. I basically pick whatever I fall in love with, and magically, the fabrics I love manages to fall into a beautiful, cohesive line.

What keeps you inspired while working in your studio?

My customers are what keep me inspired while I work in my studio. My customers, and deadlines of course. I find I have a lot of repeat customers and referrals, which is so touching and makes me want to continue to put out the best products I can. I also absolutely adore doing weddings. Wedding party ties end up being about 50% of my business, and I couldn't be happier about it. Nothing inspires me more than being included in a couple's big day. Lately, I've been doing a lot of custom fabric wedding ties, which is so exciting! I offer wedding package discounts and I am always looking for new couples to work with. Oh, and also, books on tape help me get through the long sewing hours. I'm currently re-listening to the Virgin Suicides and just finished A Little Life. Audible and Goodreads are my two most frequented websites. Feel free to drop me a line and send book title suggestions!

You can purchase Lonesome Traveler online and locally from Urban Matter, Ruby Francis, Union Studio, and May's Place.