We had the good fortune of connecting with Jordan Lewis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jordan, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
The term “risk averse” was made for people like me. Typically, I like security and the certainty that I am in control of making my own decisions. So when I graduated from Rice after aimlessly studying Business and English and realized I didn’t know what I really wanted to do with my career, I became uneasy. Taking time to “find myself” was not an option for me— way too big a risk. I needed the certainty of a paycheck from a 9-5 job for my own peace of mind.
Luckily the summer I graduated college, I got a job working for a research institute in a field I’d never even considered. Both the pay and my responsibilities were far different from those of the nebulous (but plush) corporate career life I’d always imagined for myself. So naturally, after only a few weeks working there, I began seriously questioning myself. Was I not the bright, talented young woman I’d always thought I was? If so, how could I be so far from the reality I dreamed of? Had I gotten too comfortable, assuming that everything was going to work out for me without REALLY putting in the work to make my life what I wanted it to be?
To the last question, I now think the answer is yes. I had never factored risk into my life equation. I assumed if I went through the motions and did what was expected of me, I’d end up doing something that would afford me the lifestyle I desired. This lifestyle consisted of me putting on a perfectly tailored power suit every morning along with some gorgeous designer pumps to go take over the world. But I had never stopped to make a choice for myself, never risked my own comfort. By the beginning of the New Year I was considering fashion design school options. All my life, I had loved clothes, and been complimented endlessly by peers and adults alike on my style choices. But no one had ever seen me as a fashion designer—I was known as the “smart girl”, a role I had always been happy to fill. In the fleeting moments where I had considered a career in fashion design— when watching That’s so Raven, The Parkers, and One on One reruns endlessly; when applying for college; and then when inevitably considering dropping out of college – I always banished the thought as being too impractical. I was a smart girl; as one of my professors kindly commented on one of my college presentations, I could “climb to the top of Corporate America’s ladder”. But being forced to create endlessly? Come up with new original ideas every season that other people would want to wear? I couldn’t do that. I hadn’t been trained in my 18 years of schooling to be a creative. I’d been trained to follow the path laid out for me. Yet here I was, seriously considering quitting my job to go back to school, take out massive high-interest (which to me, was insanely risky) loans, and pursue a career I was passionate about.
Ultimately, I didn’t quit my job, but I did quit wondering if fashion design was for me. I took a risk and pursued fashion design, a career I’d truly only ever dared of in my wildest dreams. Even now, I have been making and selling clothes for almost two years and I still demur a bit before confessing to people that I’m a fashion designer. But with every piece I make, every wardrobe fantasy I translate into reality, I am gaining confidence in my own abilities and my understanding of what’s best for me. Going against the grain and after fashion has absolutely been the riskiest decision I’ve ever made. I worried it would be a waste of time and money, and leave me feeling even more unsure of myself. But now I realize that being your own woman is about having the power to make your own decisions, even if it means risking the life you’ve always known. I’m truly proud of the clothes I make, those ideas I own. On top of that, so many opportunities keep opening up (like this interview!) to reaffirm that this is the right path for me. So I’m going to keep betting on myself.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m pretty new to professional life. But since discovering that fashion design is my true passion, I’m actively taking steps each day to transition my life to a full time career centered on fashion. My colleagues are wonderful people, and I think even they sense that my time with them is limited. I am lucky to have their support in chasing a life that is made for me. But for now, I’m using my professional resources to the best of my advantage. My leadership and coworkers are all so intelligent, down-to-earth, and willing to help me with anything I need, even if it’s not strictly work related. Plus, my job is fascinating on it’s own, because our work intersects with healthcare, government, space and biomedical research. It’s been incredibly rewarding just getting to know all types of professionals (from both academia and industry) and learning lessons from their experiences.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Before Covid, I’d have taken her to these places, in this order: Friday: happy hour wherever, then The Commoner and midtown at night. Saturday brunch: Adair Kitchen. At night, The Address, Local Seat, or Washington– depending on our mood. Breakfast Klub, Seaside or Grace’s for Sunday Brunch and go see the Texans if they’re playing that day. Monday-Friday, we’re touring the city stores. I’m taking her to the Galleria of course, then River Oaks District. Monday night we can go ice-skating at Discovery Green. Then we hit the heights and Washington later in the week, Montrose shops, and Rice Village somewhere along the way. I’d point out the different types of clothing offered in each area– through clothing you can experience the melting pot that is Houston. If it’s basketball season, we definitely gotta get cute and hit a weeknight Rockets game (maybe two– I love watching the Rockets live). On Wednesday we can have a picnic at Rice, then Thursday is museum day! We can hit the MFAH, Menil, or the Contemporary Art Museum.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Sooooooooo many people. I’d like to shout out God, my parents, my friends and family, every teacher and professor I had at Rice that believed in me. Shout out to my colleagues at the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) for being supportive along my journey, and shout out to my amazing professors at HCC for equipping me with the tools I need to be a great designer.
Brandon Sanders Charlton Doucette Parth Patel