by Sophie McNeil
When it comes to her love of fashion, Jamie Ainsworth credits her grandmother for peaking her interest early while living in the small town of Magee, south of Jackson. “My grandmother was always the person who would go to stores and come home with several dresses or small items and say, ‘OK, try these on and pick what you like.’ I never got to keep them all, but from that I really got to experience fashion,” she said.
“I remember too,” she said, “when they would dress me in things, I really developed an opinion about it. I remember having several arguments with my mother saying, ‘I am not going to wear that.’ As a child, I already had an opinion about what I was going to wear.”
Fast forward to age 27, Ainsworth is the owner of JEA Modeling Agency and Mulberry Dreams in Fondren.
For her, modeling began at age 13. “I feel like that’s really where it took off. I was involved in photo shoots, traveling and seeing different stylists. I really got to see that aspect of it,” she said.
Her first modeling gig was in Hattiesburg and soon followed a few jobs in Jackson. She signed with agency BMG Models in Chicago at the age of 16. At 17, she decided to sign locally with agent Sharon Ward.
Ainsworth went to Mississippi State University for two years, and then took classes in Tampa at the International Academy of Design and Technology for fashion design and merchandising. Needing to be near family brought Ainsworth back to Mississippi from Florida, where she got modeling jobs and decided to stay.
In February of 2013, Ainsworth started JEA Modeling Agency on her own, where she currently represents over 30 models in Mississippi.
“I wanted something that was my own. I wanted to settle down a little bit. I guess with modeling, I’m getting a little old,” she says with a smile. “I’ve learned so much from modeling that I wanted to teach other girls and guys about it. I worked at Libby Story (boutique in Ridgeland) for a long time and I worked a lot with models there. I was always the one to be in that aspect of the store with the models. I thought to myself, ‘You know, I could do this on my own. I don’t know why I’m not doing this.’”
But Ainsworth wasn’t done just yet. This past November at Fondren Unwrapped, she unveiled a boutique, Mulberry Dreams, in the former Green Room space. On that opening night, visitors were greeted with more than just a freshened space, but live models in the storefront windows.
“I’ve been wanting to do a store since I was little. I knew one day I would own a store. It fell into place that this was the right time in my life to do it,” she said.
Fondren, she said, is where she wanted to be. “I’ve been familiar with the area for a while now. I certainly didn’t want to be in a mall. My dad and I drove around everywhere to all the areas and he’d make suggestions. I told him, ‘Those places don’t matter because they don’t fit me.’ I wanted to be in a place that fit in with my personality.”
Where does she see Mulberry Dreams going from here? “I have a lot of ideas in the back of my head. Right now, it’s just getting the word out about Mulberry Dreams and getting it well-known not just in Fondren, but all around Jackson. I want to bring more people here (to Fondren).”
Ainsworth will celebrate her store’s six month anniversary on Thursday, April 3, 2014, with a champagne toast and summer preview party.