Leather, Love, and Los Angeles

There aren’t many individuals who could say that love brought them to Inglewood. But for Jocelyn Mason, the talented designer behind leather goods and accessories line j.MASON, it was the decision to move out of her 500 sq ft West LA home and live with her musician boyfriend that led them to a fresh start as business owners (and the city’s newest creative transplants).

“I saw a posting for this [house],” recalls Mason. “With two people who are trying to start our own business, Santa Monica is not an option. Venice is not an option…unless we shared a studio, but we would’ve killed each other.”

Mason’s new Inglewood home

Luckily for the couple, the 3-bedroom home was the perfect size and budget for their needs – but more than the space, it was the neighborhood they really fell in love with.

“One of the best surprises to me is how incredibly friendly everyone is in the neighborhood. I can’t get over the people here, they’re so welcoming and funny and sweet,” Mason remarks. “The park across the street has been one of the best discoveries. The first time I walked the entirety of the place, I saw how it’s set up with picnic benches, amphitheater, exercises stations…it’s great. The whole thing is geared toward community life.”

An inspiration wall (left); j.MASON laptop bag and phone case (right)

From small shops to hole-in-the-wall restaurants, Mason has been discovering elements of the city that lend an air of nostalgia and timelessness, but also make it feel like home: “For example, Market Street is so cool. There’s a great vegan restaurant and an old movie theater across the street…it feels like the neighborhood village that time forgot.”

The born-and-bred New Yorker followed the call of the West in the early 2000s, ending up in various parts of Los Angeles before settling down in Inglewood in March 2015.  After five years as Director of Product Development for Clare Vivier, Mason stepped down in December 2015 to focus on launching her eponymous line collection of artisanally handcrafted leather bags and accessories.

Handmade leather accessories from j.MASON

“I started the designs and process of making things about nine years ago. I didn’t know how to make it a business, and my vision wasn’t formulated completely so I started working for another designer and building a brand,” Mason shares. “It was my love, my passion. [Clare Vivier] is amazing, and I really love and respect her. She’s tremendous at actualizing her vision, and it was cool to be working next to someone who can do that. I’ve come to understand that it’s a really gift, it’s really special.”

Eventually, the call to work on her own projects took over, and it was time to answer. “I needed more time for myself, and to explore other things and other areas. It was time for me to make some changes. It’s been really fun, and good for me to take some time to look at my life.”

This organic process of change and growth has been translated into Mason’s design process as well. “The inspiration comes from the material,” she explains further. “When I find something that speaks to me, I start to think about what silhouette would showcase that material…it’s a matter of sitting in my studio without distraction.”

An experimental piece that ultimately became a statement necklace

The last few months have been full of sourcing new materials and developing a line of product that includes handbags and linen scarves for the j.MASON brand, which Mason describes as displaying a “sympathetic aesthetic” – classic beachside Californian, with elegant and organic craftsmanship. And this month, Mason will be showcasing her work alongside some of LA’s most inspiring creatives during the Los Angeles Design Festival’s Chinatown Design Night Pop-Up Market on Saturday, June 13 from 6-9pm.

It’s an exciting time of change for Mason with a new space and business to build, but one thing is certain: she’s completely at home and in love with life, leather, and living in Inglewood.

Mason and her "furry daughter", Gigi
Mason and her “furry daughter”, Gigi

Photo credit: Christine Kim for Hollywood Park Life