Food The Tastemakers:

A Spring Salad with Jessie Randall

Photography by Sarah Elliott

Do you know those scenarios in life, particularly in those tense(ish) moments of creation when you are both executing something with laser focus to get it juuuuust right but at the same time you also need to be warm and communicative and friendly? You are rushing around frantically (story of my life) to execute your precise vision but then life and the people around you, whom you genuinely care for, want to chat and you are pulled in two directions and feel like a schizophrenic scatterbrain who is short circuiting? Do I drape the napkin just right once last time so it is perfectly imperfect and organize the herbs, knife and cutting board so the composition is just so?? Or do I stop, act like a normal person for just a sec and carry on a conversation? Can you feel my neurosis?? Am I even making any sense right now?

Jessie Randall and I share a bit of an obsession, a kinship of sorts. It’s our blessing and our curse. Okay, perhaps that is slightly dramatic — it is without a doubt a blessing — but it sure can annoy people at times. We see it all, almost to a fault, but also to a success. Every minute detail, fold, crevice, angle and composition is experienced under a 10,000x zoom lens – ALWAYS!  It can be distracting to ourselves, believe me. When I was prepping this springy snap pea salad in the kitchen of the brand new Loeffler Randall showroom — which by the way completely blew my mind in its swoony crisp pink and nude palette and cohesive design — Jessie caught a glimpse of me in action, acting out my neurosis. And she was like, “oooooooohhhhh, I get it. You are like me!” She saw me, I saw her, it was an ahhhhhhhhaaaaaa, unspoken understanding that we are both freaks! We giggled about how our eyes fall upon a grain of sand that could be out of place and with blinders on it is ALL we can focus on…or on the flip side, we can appreciate its perfect placement so vividly that we are giddy with excitement.

All joking aside, this care for detail and specificity is what makes Jessie’s brand, Loeffler Randall, so swoony and, well, perfect. The impetus that inspired the journey to success happened 10 years ago. It was simply sparked by the struggle to find the precise shoe she wanted to wear. She manifested that shoe after having it trapped inside her consciousness, and together with her husband Brian, Loeffler Randall was born. It really was that simple. As Jessie and I got to talking and cooking together, we discussed the importance of having a clear vision, which she certainly had from day one. Being a visionary, part of Jessie’s inspired process is to create a tangible mood board. It acts as a roadmap, a visual affirmation she can absorb every day, reminding her not to stray too far. I mean, Jessie even unknowingly steered me to create a salad that harmonized so swooningly with her brand. When you approach what you love with certitude, when you visualize it, it is far easier to execute. This holds true from her designs for the Loeffler Randall collection to the décor of the new showroom, and for the brand values LR represents. When I asked Jessie what those values were, it was, guess what, laser clear!

-Celebrate authenticity and individuality.
-Be design-driven and cool while remaining joyful, warm and approachable.
-Treasure taste and quality.
-Create product that is effortless, modern and functional for real women who live multi-faceted and dynamic lives.
-Delight our customer.
-Think unconventionally and make thoughtful decisions.

I think we all might have a life lesson here that we can put into action for most everything in our multifaceted lives. Each of these values can be applied to business, creativity, a relationship, parenting, life…

I suppose when my brain is short-circuiting, I will follow your wise and swoony words, Mrs. Randall. And also take solace that I am not alone in my freakish, telescopic tendencies. I will close with this note: as I walked through the LR offices from the kitchen to the design studio to Jessie’s office and the showroom, my eyes fell upon so many moments, details, that were the truest expression of Jessie’s world. The space was revealing materials, a palette, an energy, a synergy, a family. I was easily able to understand the brand’s vision as it was so holistic, thoughtful, cohesive and intuitive – it was telling a clear visual story through and through, and not only did it make me swoon, it also left me deeply and utterly inspired.

Loeffler Randall

Jessie Randall


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Can you tell me a bit about the genesis of Loeffler Randall?

Brian and I started the line over ten years ago. We were just married, I was working in fashion design and I couldn’t find the exact shoes I wanted to wear. Brian suggested that we start a shoe line because shoes were the thing I couldn’t get out of my head. We worked really hard planning and learning and we went to Italy to put our first collection into work at a factory. We sold into Bergdorf Goodman our very first season. It was a dream come true.

Can you recall the initial that created your journey into design?

I always think about my chic grandmother, Harriet. When I was little, growing up with a mom who was very creative but who did not care very much about fashion, I loved spending time with my paternal grandmother. She seemed glamorous and fun to me – she wore bright red lipstick, bright cashmere sweaters and little red Keds sneakers. She always had a cigarette in her hand. She let me watch soap operas – she had a huge crush on “Patch” from ‘Days of Our Lives,’ she liked to do my nails, let me try on her ball gowns. She had tiny size 5 feet and let me clomp around in her high heels. That sense of fun, the fun of fashion, how happy it made me (and still makes me) began in childhood with her. And since I can remember I have always been obsessed with shoes. Always, my favorite thing. Our first LR pump was called the ‘Harriet.’

Tell me about the design process, choices, & discoveries – day to day?

I get inspired by so many things and I always have my eye out for something that might inspire my designs – from art to craft techniques to furniture design. I start by pulling images and naturally a concept emerges out of all the disparate ideas. I get on my hands and knees in my office and make a giant mood board. From the board, our concepts and color palette emerge. I am sort of a homebody – I am not one of those designers that travels a lot. I like being in Soho, in my Brooklyn neighborhood or out by the beach. I think there are a lot of ways to be inspired even by not venturing very far afield. One way that I stay inspired is to try to take a class in something creative that has nothing to do with my creative field. For the past year, I’ve been taking a personal essay writing course. It’s inspiring to me to work on my writing, flex my creativity in a completely different way that has nothing to do with my job. Now I’m in a private home group with my teacher and I love the people in my group. There is a huge range of ages and experiences. I like learning about and from these people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

How would you briefly describe the ethos of your company – what sets your brand apart?

Our brand is about directional designs that are wearable, functional and have multiple end uses. These are the kind of shoes that offer a lot of value because the same pair can be worn casually, or dressed up. We always say they can go from a farmer’s market on the weekend to a wedding. Our girl has a lot going on in her life – she’s creative, she’s running around doing a million different things and these are the shoes she can live her multifaceted and dynamic life in. Our brand values speak to what our company is all about. They are: 1. celebrate authenticity and individuality. 2. be design driven and cool while remaining joyful, warm and approachable. 3. treasure taste and quality. 4. create product that is effortless, modern and functional for real women who live multi-faceted and dynamic lives.5. delight our customer. 6. think unconventionally and make thoughtful decisions.

We both joked about perfectionism and ALWAYS noticing (ok perhaps obsessing over) the smallest details in absolutely everything – do you think this is what makes you successful? 

I do, actually. Sometimes people joke with me about how specific I can be about things. But I have a very clear vision of how I want the office to look, what I like and how I want the space to feel. I am a visual person and so I notice and care about small visual details. I guess that’s a strength because I work in a visual field. But it can also drive people a bit crazy!

5 shopable items you feel truly represent your brand?

Ines lace up clogAlfie espadrille sneakerHarper wrap espadrilleSmall saddle bagSmall cosmetic bag.

How does design and creating make you feel is 3 words?

Happy, inspired, alive.

What thinking about the Loeffler Randall girl, what does she always need and swoon over?

She needs designs that feel like a natural extension of her own style. She’s someone who has a beautiful sense of taste, knows what she likes and is looking for things that feel special, that express who she is. For me, I love the feeling I get when I put on a new pair of shoes or a beautiful bag made of Italian leather. This is what we’re going for with everything we design at LR.

Your business is a family affair – you and your husband are business partners and you are raising 3 young children – Can you speak a bit about family and balancing a successful business.  Do you have a secret to share?

My secret used to be keeping our desks very far apart but in the new office we share an office so I guess that advice goes out the window! The benefit of working together is that we care so incredibly much about LR. It’s our company, but it’s also like a family to us too. We have a family working environment here and we like that.

Clearly you and I both love a blushy pink… (hence your showroom and my salad – hehe.) Can you tell me about the design choices of your new swoony showroom?

The first step in the process was finding an interior designer who understood my vision for the space. We found that person in Poonam Khanna of The Union Works. I love Poonam and just implicitly trust her. She has the most gorgeous taste and she really understood the vibe I was going for. Everyone who walks into this space says “It is so you!” The first time I met with Poonam she showed me a piece of wood, a square of thick felt and a brass piece of hardware. I took one look and said “That’s our showroom.” We incorporated the beautiful Italian veg tanned vachetta leather that we use in a lot of our bag designs through the office. My desk is made of the leather and there are little details using the leather throughout the office. Poonam and I worked so well together. It is so rare to find someone whose taste is so similar to my own, who intuitively understood exactly how to bring the brand to life in the space, who understood the beauty and elegance of things maybe not typically thought of as “elegant” – like the plywood and the felt. There is this understated luxury there that I think encapsulates LR so well. We completed the construction of the space in five short weeks. When we were done I cracked up when Poonam said “It was Jessie’s vision and Murphy’s law!” (My husband’s last name is Murphy and it did seem like everything that could go wrong did go wrong in the building of the space – from leaks to all our custom desks not fitting in the elevators!) But it all worked out in the end.

 Did you created a moodboard, set a specific palette?

Yes, Poonam and I created a color and material palette and we did not stray from it. I think being rigid in this way is very important. The elements are: raw, light wood, heather grey felt, brass hardware, white marble and nude vachetta leather. That’s it.

 What makes you swoon more than any one thing?

Snuggling with my five year old in bed every morning

A perfect Sunday is …..

Being out at the beach with my family. I’d go pick up a bunch of delicious salads from Loaves and Fishes, friends would be staying with us, I would work on a craft or art project with the kids. My dream day involves some sort of physical activity and also a nap! Mostly, my favorite kind of day has lots of sunshine and lots of family time.

5 local spots (restaurants) that make you swoon?

Jack’s Wife FredaFondaFrankie’s 457 SpuntinoThe FinchBalthazar.

Your ideal food day would be?

My ideal food day would involve eating clean – all healthy food, nothing processed. Then guacamole and chips and a cocktail at dinner!

What is a typical morning like in your home?

Pure chaos! We struggle so much trying to get all three kids fed, dressed and out the door while getting ready ourselves. My hair looks crazy half the time. It’s not always glamorous, but it’s real life.

Perfect weeknight family meal?

My mom’s chicken pot pie recipe

What’s always in your fridge?

Marcona almonds, avocados, sparkling water, lemons and beer

All-time favorite swoon-worthy restaurant in NYC?

Raoul’s makes we swoon because it’s where I had my first date with my husband.

Snap Pea & Endive Salad with Parmesan Dressing

EyeSwoon Kitchen


Serves 2

  • 2 cups snap peas, blanched and shocked
  • large handful pea tendrils
  • 3 heads endive, ends trimmed
  • 1/4 cup mixed herbs – basil, tarragon, chives
  • 1 watermelon radish, very thinly sliced.
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2  tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • fresh pepper
  • 1 1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil

The Prep

  1. Combine above 7 dressing ingredients in a mini food prep and pulse until well combined and emulsified.  You will have extra dressing which can remain refrigerated for up to one week.
  2. Slice your blanched and shocked snap peas on a bias and place in a medium size bowl.
  3. Pull apart the leaves of the endive and combine with the snap peas in the bowl.
  4. Add the pea tendrils and a drizzle of the parmesan lemon dressing and toss to coat.  
  5. Finish with flaky seas salt, a few slices of radish and mixed fresh herbs.
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