The Sartorial Geek
Recently I had a chance to speak to a founder of a team of such champions, hailing from the Brooklyn-based, women owned, small-business called Jordandené. The brand creates handmade goods, featuring nerdy designs carefully crafted on a variety of apparel, accessories, home goods, and more. Led by Jordan Ellis along with Tristan George and Chavon Coleman; Jordandené aims to provide “subtly geeky products” while remaining as eco-friendly as possible. On top of their wares, they recently launched The Sartorial Geek lifestyle magazine which focuses on pop-culture, girl power, and unique stories through articles written by the geek community.
I had a chance to talk further with Jordan Ellis about what led her to start Jordandené, The Sartorial Geek, and how geeky clothing brings out the best in all of us:
Hi Jordan! Where are you from?
I’m from the small town of West Grove at the Pennsylvania/Delaware/Maryland border.
How long have you been working on Jordandené and why did you start it?
I started Jordandené almost seven years ago as a way to create the well-designed, well-made geeky products I really wanted for myself. At that time, it was hard or impossible to find subtly-nerdy, feminine apparel or accessories, and I wanted to change that.
What was your entry into the world of “geekdom”?
The first thing I really geeked out about was Pokémon as a kid: I had all the trading cards and saved up with my brother for a GameBoy so we could play with our neighbors. I fell out of the geeky scene from middle school until the end of college, when I read all the Harry Potter books. That series was what pulled me back in to the nerd world as an adult.
How has clothing helped you to better identify yourself in the community or within fandoms?
I love subtly sneaking geeky clothing or accessories into my daily outfits. I go for a “muggle-friendly” style, where non-fans won’t notice anything unusual, and fans will recognize what I’m referencing. A fellow nerd starting a conversation with me over something I’m wearing is my favorite thing in the world.
How has family influenced (or not), your journey to self-discovery?
My family parents raised me to be smart, confident, and to live without conforming to gender roles. I really appreciate that I never grew up thinking I shouldn’t try to run a business because I’m a woman, especially one without a business background. I don’t really face the things like “impostor complex” or insecurity that plague so many people in my situation, and I’m very thankful for that.
Considering the current downward trend of traditional publications, what inspired you to start Sartorial Geek?
I’m lucky that The Sartorial Geek is meant to accompany what’s happening at Jordandené and that we don’t need it to financially stand on its own. We wanted a cool place to showcase the really amazing people and brands we’ve been able to meet, and putting together a magazine and podcast seemed like the perfect way to do that. We’ve met so many incredibly talented people through living in NYC and through our work at Jordandené, and we were able to join forces to make this project happen. While we could have just done a digital publication, it’s way more exciting and impressive to put together a physical magazine. Plus, now we have so many great photos of fellow nerds enjoying it!
What is the magazine about?
The first edition of The Sartorial Geek (released March 9th) featured a look into designing an officially licensed jewelry collection for Black Panther, an interview with a current Top Chef contestant, self-care tips, activities, and more. The magazine will be released on a quarterly basis.
What is the Jordandene brand all about?
Jordandené is a Brooklyn-based, woman-owned, small business. Our casually geeky apparel and home goods are subtle enough to actually be used in everyday life. Our design team uses traditional ink and brush techniques to create unique, hand-lettered designs. We choose messages that both strike a chord with hardcore fans and promote positive messages to everyone who sees them.
Who do you consider part of your “creative tribe”?
The women that come together for Geek Girl Brunch have been an incredible pool of friends and creative partners. Robyn Warren of Geek Girl Strong, Jaimie Cordero of Espionage Cosmetics, and Allison Cimino of RockLove Jewelry are some incredible geek bosses who all inspire and motivate me in their own unique ways.
Do you need to prep for creative time or do you always feel the creative juices flowing?
Honestly, a glass of wine can usually do the trick.
What advice would you give someone interested in opening their own clothing shop or starting their own publication?
Find your community. If you’re selling something, find or create the community that will be your audience or customers. If you’re starting a business, find a community of peers and mentors to help and support each other. My business changed so much when I stopped trying to do it alone.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?
I’ve learned how to listen. My products are constantly improving as I listen to feedback from customers. My service improves as I listen to what people appreciate about other businesses. My community grows as I listen to what people want us to create for them. The greatest improvements we’ve made as a business have come from listening to hard feedback, especially in situations where I thought I already knew everything.
What’s the next step for the brand?
We really hope The Sartorial Geek will be the positive, nerdy, inclusive community we’ve been looking for. We’re really excited for the next issues of our quarterly magazine and to see what happens with our newly-released podcast.
You can find more on Jordandené and The Sartorial Geek magazine by heading over to their blog and Instagram!: