by Josy Jones
“WHERE YOUR LIFE LEADS YOU, YOU MUST GO.” – Oscar Wilde
Do you ever have the feeling that you don’t know what’s going to happen next, but it will somehow work itself out? That is a ubiquitous reality for many artists. You work, explore, pick up new skills along the way and eventually find yourself right where you’re meant to be. Understandably, the artist’s lifestyle is frightening for many. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to be doing next. Sometimes you have to go out on faith, and that is scary.
Akron’s Jenn Kidd is a perfect example of how the artist’s life just works out the way it’s supposed to — and how to tackle it head on.
Photography. Fashion. People. These are the three cornerstones of Kidd’s work and evolution. Raised in Canton and determined to “move to the city,” says Kidd of moving to Akron, she originally had her eyes set on Kent State University’s fashion program. However, her immediate goals shifted when she found she was pregnant with her son.
Kidd decided to stay at her job during that time, at the Lime Spider, to figure it out. She learned to style hair and spent about 13 years as a stylist. Meanwhile, she found that it wasn’t the hairstyles she was sculpting that she was interested in. It was their photographic quality.
Why photographs? Kidd took photography in high school and it reemerged in her work many years later. “While I did hair, I always loved portraits of people,” says Kidd. “It wasn’t even about the hair anymore.”
Alongside her embrace of portraits, her love for fashion thrived. She loved the history of fashion so she studied it on her own. She also loved to hunt for vintage clothing. “I shop by fabrics,” says Kidd.
However, she wasn’t usually shopping for herself. She would give a lot of her purchases away to friends — and she was great at it. Then, it dawned on Kidd, “Wait, I can make this stuff a business.”
And so she did.
Kidd continued to collect vintage clothing for three years, “out of [her] own paychecks.” Then, in 2018, she decided to take a leap and quit doing hair. It wasn’t easy. She expressed feelings that many artists feel at this point in their journey: “You quit your job and you don’t know how you’re gonna pay your bills, don’t know how you’re gonna eat and then something shows up.”
Kidd bares her flaws, acknowledging her struggle with procrastination as well. But she is not alone. Her son, now a teenager, and her husband are both artists and they keep her both grounded and creative.
As if to compliment her courage, in the summer of 2018, Kidd was contacted to help with wardrobe for a Taylor Swift concert in Cleveland. Later she would help with wardrobe for “Hamilton” and Beyoncé shows.
Kidd is opening a store in March with business partner the Sweetest Chill, another vintage store in the Akron area. Her store is called Seberg, named after actress Jean Seberg, serves as an homage to timeless fashion.
But Kidd dreams far beyond the store’s opening. Her goal is to create an artist co-op to give photographers and stylists the opportunity to style and shoot for clothing companies outside of Akron for publication. Kidd wants to create a resource list of stylists, photographers and other creatives. Plus, she wants to utilize all the vintage and thrift shops in the area to style her clients.
She strongly believes in working together to put Akron on the map and give its talent new work.
Kidd wants to make personal styling welcoming. She knows that you don’t have to be wealthy to look good. For Kidd, it’s more about making people feel good and making quality accessible.
With many new projects underway, including a management position to revamp Musica, Kidd is a perfect example of the twists and turns of an artist’s journey.
What can artists take away from this story? Well, you don’t have to be perfect. “I’m all over the place,” admits Kidd. She teaches us to learn to explore our interests, encourage and assist others in their journeys, start with what we have in front of us (Akron’s Public Library system probably provides what you’re looking for, but that’s a subject for another day), and that it’s never too late to leap from the familiar into the unknown.
You should have her be your personal stylist. New year, new you, right?
Want to be styled by Jenn Kidd of Seberg? Contact her at:
Beginning March 2019, in the Everett Building with Sweetest Chill. 39 East Market St., Suite 205
See Jenn’s photography at @JennKidd_ or JennKidd.com.
Josy Jones is a theatre artist with a background in international relations.