Jamila and Maya Jones: New York's Newest Twins
In the city so nice, they had to name in twice resides Jamila and Maya Jones - twins strutting down the concrete slabs of New York in the most colorful block heels. Together taking the city and fashion industry by storm, while maneuvering through their own individual journeys. Alumnae of the University of Cincinnati, and Jamila currently working as a Design Assistant for Macy’s and Maya an Associate Account Executive at Caleres - the two have found a way make their fashion and business backgrounds work for them in unique ways in the city of dreams.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity)
Tell me a little about yourself?
M: I grew up in Dayton, OH with my parents and sister. I attended Stivers School for the Arts High School and majored in Piano & Creative Writing. I then studied at the University of Cincinnati and majored in Business Marketing while minoring in Professional Sales & Fashion Studies.
J: My name is Jamila Jones and I am a 24 year old designer in New York City. I am originally from Dayton, OH where I attended most of my schooling until I moved to Cincinnati, OH where I studied fashion design at the University of Cincinnati. I live in NYC with my twin sister, Maya Jones, where we are pursuing our careers in fashion.
Outside of New York being the fashion capital, what motivated your move? How does the culture in New York differ from Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus? What makes each city special to you?
M: The 3 internships I completed previous to officially moving to NYC definitely got me prepared with the pace of NYC and made me fall in love with everything the city offers. I knew then entering the fashion industry I needed to be accessible to all the opportunities NYC has to offer. I needed these opportunities to push me into becoming successful within my career.
Everything about NYC culture is different than Ohio. NYC is always a few steps ahead of course in fashion trends, music, etc. New Yorkers tend to live their lives a little slower than Ohioans do. New Yorkers are at their prime in their 30s while Ohioans are at their prime in their early 20s. Couples marry and have children later in NYC and focus on their careers longer mainly because it takes longer to be financially stable and NYC is a bigger social scene.
J: I’ve always dreamed of living in NYC for a long time, especially since I fell in love with fashion. Once I decided designing was not only a passion and hobby but could be turned into a career, I realized being in Ohio would be very limiting in the opportunities I needed in order to grow as a designer. The culture in NYC and Ohio is very different, I think it’s refreshing how diverse NYC is in the culture, people, and opportunities. Although Dayton is not a place I would like to live, it will always have a special place in my heart from growing up there and the people I met and had relationships in my time there. NYC has never failed to excite me and challenge me in the best ways to be creative and reinvent.
What was it like growing up with a twin? Are you identical or fraternal twins? From the outside looking in it seems like you guys have a great relationship. Did it ever bother you being a twin?
M: Growing up with a twin is always a ton of fun. We are fraternal but are mistaken for identical most of the time. We have a great relationship and being a twin has 100% benefited our experiences moving to NYC and living together. Being twins hasn’t bothered us at all which is truly a blessing!
J: Having a twin sister is so much fun and such a blessing. A lot of people think we are identical, but we are actually fraternal. We are best friends and very close. It’s never bothered us being twins; I think sometimes it can be annoying when people forget we have our own individuality and interests but we very much enjoy being twins but we think of ourselves more as sisters most of the time than twins.
How do you and Maya conquer New York together and in separate endeavors?
J: Maya and I are both very much into fashion. I have always had more interest in the designing and hands-on aspects of it, and Maya has always loved more of the styling and business side of fashion. It’s really nice because we are able to pursue that in both of our careers, and plan to build my brand with those skills as well.
Have you and Jamila ever thought about going into business together in any aspect of fashion? If so, what would it be?
M: 100%! We plan to run her business Jamila Mariama as soon as enough money is made to support all of our goals. Jamila will oversee all designs and her overall concept while I help manage the finances and marketing aspects.
I loved the Every Stylish Girl Sip n’ Slay shoot! How was it working on a shoot with Jamila? How do you guys feed off of each others energy? Do you have any upcoming projects together?
M: This was a really fun project for us both, while we sometimes clash with each other just naturally being sisters, we were both really liberated and excited being part of such a fun and exciting project. We plan to do a short fashion film for Jamila Mariama by the end of summer and possibly a pop-up shop sometime soon.
You have both held various internships with Marchesa, American Eagle Target, Tory Burch, Suno and Elly Clay. How did your internships prepare you for your current position? If you could give any undergrad students advice on the importance of internships what would it be?
J: All of my internships have helped me learn so much and were all very different experiences. They varied in the roles and responsibilities, work environment, location, and type clothing I worked with. I purposely pursued different types of internships because I knew that would make the experiences most valuable in what I was learning. I also knew that it would help me decide what specific type of company/brand I would want to work for post-grad.
I would encourage students to strive to always kind different ways of learning; you can only learn so much about your career and yourself in the classroom. The rest of your learning we be experienced in the real world. Don’t be afraid to set outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to grow and learn.
M: My internships showed me primarily how to start and maintain an emerging business. All my internships including my first with Valentina Kova, were all brand new small businesses trying to make a name for themselves. My internships prepared me literally with everything I needed to adapt to the city of New York and showed how businesses operate as a whole as far as design, finance, marketing, etc.
My biggest piece of advice would be to try to tackle as many different tasks as you can even if they don’t feel relevant at the time, take your time and deep breaths, don’t take everything personal, and always always give 100%. Take each project as an important addition to diversifying your resume and personal portfolio.
How do you find balance and unplug from all of your work? What do you do you enjoy in your free time?
J: Finding balance can be challenging at time, but I always tell myself I have the same hours in my day as Beyonce. I have my job at Macy’s from 9-5, and I am trying to build up my brand from 5-9. Sometimes I am more busy than others, when I was preparing for my last collection show I spent a lot of my weekends devoted to completing the garments. I found it helpful to have a clear idea and timeline on how and when to get things done by a certain date. I also made sure the schedule I had included time to relax and time to have fun. It’s very important to have that balance and know how to find how it works for you without stressing yourself out!
M: Shopping, browsing the internet and social media, after work events, filling up my weekend with activities or sometimes the exact opposite and doing nothing at all in my free time.
If you could work for any company/designer who would it be and why?
J: Diane Von Furstenberg (DVF), I love her initiatives to empower and support women
If you could style any person who would it be and why?
M: Rihanna or Solange...I truly believe these ladies can pull off ANYTHING. They are both extremely versatile with their wardrobes and overall aesthetic and wears everything with confidence.
Top 5 brands you love?
J: NastyGal, Zara, Ellery, Proenza Schouler, Phillip Lim
Favorite go to items to pair together?
M: Wide legged pants and a fun bootie!
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