Ace & Jig: a Lifestyle Brand Built by Its Fans

ace and jig
Don’t I look like a former Dead Head?

On my very first day of college at Georgetown one of my hip dorm mates invited me to a Grateful Dead show.  After securing my ticket I headed straight over to the Georgetown Mall to buy an outfit to mark the occasion – I think a batik inspired printed top and pants by the brand Esprit. Little did I know that Grateful Dead shows were no place for designer labels. The shows were actually shopping destinations, where the community of fans (i.e. Dead Heads) made, sold and traded everything one needed to be “on brand” at the shows (think flowing pants, boho dresses and batik t-shirts, to patchouli oil and layers and layers of crystal necklaces). I went to about a dozen Grateful Dead shows my freshman year.   I should have known then, a pre-med student at the time, that I would have a career in building lifestyle brands.  Although I am sure most people who attended the shows went to hear the music and participate in other recreational activities, I went for the actual brand experience. The art and the sport of buying and trading Grateful Dead bootleg tapes and merchandise was my jam.

If ever there were a modern day fashion turned lifestyle brand that would evoke that same sense of community – built on shared values, free spirited, colorful style and soft materials that are meant to be collected, layered and traded with others – it would be Ace & Jig. I discovered Ace & Jig when I was involved in an e-commerce start up that was geared toward re-sale of high end children’s wear and catered to stylish moms.  I was on Instagram and I noticed Ace & Jig pieces on pretty much all of the mommy influencers who had similarly well-dressed kids. I searched #aceandjig and found a national fan base of moms flaunting the latest looks, re-selling items outgrown, creating unique hashtags (#aceweek) and desperately ISO (in search of) particular pieces from their collection.

Ace & Jig lifestyle brand
Kimono jacket by Ace & Jig, top by Isabel Marant

The story of Ace & Jig is the tale of Carey Vaughan and Jenna Wilson , two former fashion interns and colleagues who decided to come together after having babies (the name Ace & Jig was inspired by their children’s names). With a playful style that is defined by material and shape, and not by trend, Ace & Jig has struck a cord, and particularly with moms. Carey and Jenna also took note of the swap culture that was forming on social media and went on tour last summer to meet their fans and facilitate building the sense of community and trade their fans craved (appropriately traveling the West Coast in a vintage VW van). Ace & Jig swap meets is now something the founders organize regularly.  It’s fascinating to me that Ace & Jig consumer are dictating marketing direction for this lifestyle brand.

The childhood play pattern of collecting and trading apparently does not get old as we get older, so it makes sense that motherhood and Ace & Jig go hand in hand.  Just as I was finished writing this piece on Ace & Jig, a rising lifestyle brand worthy of expansion into new markets, I received an email blast from the Land of Nod about their newly launched collaboration with Ace & Jig on a baby line of play mats and nursery items.  True to the brand’s values, the line is playful, casual, layered and made of up-cycled fabrics from the brand’s clothing line.  It’s also limited edition, so this will be a good item to snag now, collect and trade!

Photos by Julia Elizabeth