Though you might find it hard to believe, Jami Girouard never planned to be here. In spite of the seeming ubiquity of Girouard’s Yung Hussy fringe earrings in shops and earlobes throughout New Orleans, the fashion designer and Mississippi native originally had her sights set on the bright lights of a bigger city.
“I definitely thought I was going to end up living in Los Angeles & New York,” Girouard said in a recent interview with Very Local. “I was on track to go to SCAD to study fashion design…Katrina upended every plan I had in my life. It sent me on a crazy new trajectory.”
Leaving her hometown an hour and a half east of New Orleans in 2005, Girouard landed in Florida. She finished high school there and earned a full-ride to Florida State University to study fashion. At that point, the plan was still to head for a coastal city. When she graduated from FSU, however, she felt an urge to take a break from an incredibly stressful half-decade.
“Everyone I went to college with was going to New York and doing fashion internships,” she explained. “I had this gut reaction that that wasn’t for me. I’m going to move to New Orleans and just party for a few years blow off some steam.I’m just going to do my own thing over here for a while.”
When she made it here, she quickly realized that she made the right choice.
“I thought ‘This is it, I’m done. I’m not going anywhere,” she said.
Gambling on stepping away from the path laid out in front of her paid off, because her line of fringe-y earrings and clothing could only have come to exist in New Orleans. Girouard was struck with the inspiration for her fringe pieces, while on healthy amounts of psychedelic drugs during Mardi Gras.
“I was wearing something that had fringe on it and I had this weird psychedelic connection with the fringe,” she said. “I was thinking “Oh, it feels so good. I love the way it feels.’ I figured it out in this moment fueled by Mardi Gras drug insanity. This is my medium.”
Girouard started out making costumes and longer fringe pieces, but the friendly and complimentary nature of NOLA lead to her making the switch to earrings.
“I had this pair of earrings that a friend in that were weird sort of upholstery tassels. She had just put some earring hooks on them and sent them to me,” she said. “I got so many compliments and people kept begging me to replicate these earrings. Eventually, I was like ‘Ok, fine.'”
Jami set about making earrings that had a similar silhouette but made from her preferred medium. She says that slowly but surely word of her earrings spread until it exploded and became her full-time job.
“The earrings are my main thing. I never anticipated it to be that way,” she said. “I never set out like ‘I’m going to make earrings.’ People asked and I obliged.”
She’s recently been able to expand and experiment, moving into fringe lampshades, handbags and more of the wearable fringe pieces that started her whole journey. Now that she’s made her name here, Jami could not be happier that she chose New Orleans as a home.
“New Orleans is so small but they support you so much,” she explained. “If the people of New Orleans love you they will support you to the end, I feel super lucky.”