Brand & Owner

"Handmade in Los Angeles"

An Interview With Jasmine...

So Jasmine, before we delve into the details of why you wanted to start this company, I’m curious about its name. What is Congés? What does it mean and why did you choose it? 

Jasmine Penna (JP) – I’m actually glad that’s what we’re starting with because the process of choosing the name and what it signifies will probably answer most of your questions anyway! I mean, if we’re naming a lifestyle brand, I feel as though the name should represent a life philosophy, in this case my life philosophy.  Congés in French means “to be on holiday” or “on vacation, on leave,” so in a way, it means to be on a break from the grind of our daily lives.  But for me it’s more than that.  It’s a state of mind, a state of being.  What I’m referring to here is the type of serenity most of us seem to capture when we’re on vacation.  We somehow gain this stress-free perspective, whether it’s because we’re spending time in nature or simply living in the moment and enjoying whatever surroundings we’re in. It’s that specific state-of-self that we somehow tap into when we’re away but unfortunately lose when we return to our daily lives.  But at the end of the day, it’s not where we are that matters.  Rather, it all boils down to the power of our thoughts, which in turn shape our perspectives and really, everything else.  It’s something akin to that famous Lao Tzu quote and many of its variations.  Forgive me while I paraphrase here: “watch your thoughts for they become your beliefs, your words, then your actions, your habits, your character and eventually your destiny.”  So for me, to “think free” is to “live free” – to carry that carefree attitude no matter where we are or what we do.  To be clear, that also includes what we wear and what we own.  My goal with Congés is for it to accentuate the beauty of this perspective. People are inclined to attach sentimental value to various objects because they serve as reminders and gateways to lovely experiences.  I appreciate anything that takes the human mind to a positive place.  Therefore while it is important for me serve the principles of “thinking and living free,” with Congés, I strive to have my brand epitomize this perspective and our organic selves. Hence the name for our website, BeOnCongés.

You seem pretty passionate about this topic.  How do you hope your life philosophy successfully intersects with your own business in fashion?

JP – I would say the passion you’re sensing stems from a particular life experience I had during a vacation that fell significantly short of my expectations.  Let’s just say instead of enjoying my life in Hawaii for my 21st birthday with family, I ended up fighting for my life quite literally on my death bed with meningitis.  I couldn’t believe my set of circumstances.  I’ll spare you the details but what I gained from that experience, I’ve carried with me. I learned the value and the power of perspective, its fleeting nature, and the daily challenges it presents.  Accepting the reality that much like many things in life, it’s the practice and constant pursuit which fuels positivity.  And so, I pour that energy into whatever I do.  In this case, it’s Congés.  So while the foundation of Congés is my life philosophy, how it comes to fruition is a result of my life’s work.  It wasn’t long after that experience in Hawaii when I earned my degree in business & product development fromFIDM.  Soon after, I began working in footwear which enabled me to travel overseas.  Given my multi-cultural background and pre-disposition to embrace the beauty and nuances of all cultures, I suppose I began accumulating all the information I would later apply to my own business.  Additionally, the entrepreneurial spirit is strong in my family.  My mother has her own business, as did her father and his own mother before him.  So, I believe launching Congés was an inevitability.  Sometimes all it takes is a spark and the persistence to turn that spark into glorious flame.  I would say the spark for my collection was, getting married and our honeymoon in Bora Bora just a couple years back.  I decided I would start a business that embodied the confluence of all the forces and experiences in my life. I conveyed these ideas to my loved ones- and without hesitation – they amplified the positivity and momentum I had built towards this exciting undertaking. And I suppose my desire to create wasn’t exclusive to Congés, because in the midst of this journey, I’ve also been blessed with motherhood.  I cannot express how grateful, excited and nervous (simultaneously), I am to be on a path with a destination for something greater than myself.  ***Now I have a question for you if that’s alright.***

Please by all means. I’m curious.

JP – Why did the chicken cross the road?

Ha! Umm… I don’t know. Why?

JP – To be on Congés, obviously!