December 12, 2019

Alumni Update: Interview with Jessica Murray

Posted in Alumni, Interview.

Local business owner & Graphic Designer

Whether it be fashion forward or through design, local boutique owner, Jessica Murray knows her way around the business world. Focusing on ethically and sustainably-made clothing and products, Jessica brings several creations to life through her European inspired lifestyle. See Jessica’s store at

What year did you graduate and what is your official job title/employer?

Well, I actually have a variety of jobs! I am an owner of Idlewild (I have a partner), a boutique in the OTR neighborhood of Cincinnati. It’s a lifestyle and primarily woman’s clothing boutique, focusing on ethically and sustainably made clothing and products. I also am the owner/designer of Jessica Murray Designs, where I create a several products lines inspired by the European lifestyle and using the photos from my travels, as well as I occasionally have freelance design customers.

Do you have your BFA in graphic design? Also why did you choose to study at BGSU?

Yes, and I have a minor in marketing. I loved the blending of art and design in the program, versus just a focus on design, such as you see from the program at DAAP at the time.

Could you touch on your journey after graduating BGSU? 

Immediately after graduation, my husband’s job transferred us to Paris, where we lived for 3 years. My time there completely changed my life (and career trajectory) and I am so much the better for it! While there, I began freelancing for clients in both English and French, which was a great experience. When we returned, we ended up in the Detroit area, where I continued to freelance, but also decided to start my own line of products based on my life in Paris and my travels and photography from around the world. 

What does being a Francophile mean to you? What inspires you about their culture?

Simply put, the love of all things French. Nothing more that I love than wandering the streets of Paris, enjoying the stunning architecture and taking photos there! I love their appreciation of the arts, as well as taking Sunday for family and to slow down and enjoy their culture. I love how on Sundays they shut down the stores (and now even the streets on the 1st Sunday of the Month!), and they get out and enjoy all the beauty and the arts that their city has to offer! There are many days when the museums are free as well! I love that the city is so walkable, and it truly lends itself to being a Flâneur. 

Tell us about Idlewild…How did it start? What were your motives when purchasing the store?

 I happened to be in Paris, when I received a phone call from my cousin Tessa Clark, who has managed Idlewild since 2016. The previous owners told her that they were going to have to close Idlewild, unless it sold, and I was immediately interested. I spoke with Tessa (who is also a fashion designer) and my aunt, Julie Clark, who is a ceramicist, gallery curator and entrepreneur, and we all agreed this was our time to put our creative forces together and turn Idlewild into our dream lifestyle boutique. Julie and I purchased the store in May 2018 and Tessa stayed on as our store manager.

How do you incorporate Graphic Design into your work life?

I am constantly using my education in both design and marketing at both the store and with my products! I design my products (prints, cards, calendars, totes, pouches and clutches), as well as designing marketing materials for the store and manage the website and social media, in collaboration with Tessa.

Could you describe how a regular day would go at Idlewild?

Every day is different at the store! One day I could simply be entering new products into our system/website all day, one day I could be helping Tessa and/or Julie re-merchandise the whole store, one day Tessa and I could be doing a photoshoot of our new clothing/product inventory and one day I could be doing tedious business owner stuff (like filing paperwork, paying taxes, etc). I would honestly say it’s 50/50 split between the boring/tedious stuff and the fun, creative stuff. But the fun, creative stuff is so fulfilling that it makes the tedious stuff more bearable! Also, since Tessa manages the more day-to-day at the store, it gives me time to also work on my own designs/products.

What are some of your favorite things about owning a local store?

I love meeting new people, in all forms that takes: fellow business owners in OTR and Cincinnati, our customers, and fellow makers/designers! I feel like the store is not only a collaboration of the women behind Idlewild, but also a joining of those we meet on buying trips, travels, the community and of course our customers! I also love that the three of us buy for the store, as well as we all stock our lines! Tessa just launched her FW19 collection under her label, Grind and Glaze (@grindandglaze), Julie just created her newest line of pottery and jewelry (@jclarkpottery), and my newest line of totes/clutches was just produced (@designerinparis)! All our work is created in Ohio!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Honestly, I have no idea! I didn’t think I would settle down in Cincinnati, but I truly love owning a business here, so it may be permanent! But I also still have a strong connection to Paris and I have been to California and Seattle several times in the last few years and would love to explore the idea of living in either of those places!

What website(s) would you like to bring some exposure to?

What advice would you give for students currently in the program?

Do not just stick to learning what the curriculum outlines. Take a foreign language, study abroad, minor in something that interests you! You never know where this degree is going to take you, plus the more you expand your horizons, the more education/experiences you bring to the table when you’re designing for someone. This is what truly makes you a more well-rounded designer!

Interviewed by: Jessie Walton