Fashion, Featured, People of Joburg

7 min with Jess Clarke – owner of Elizabeth Summer

May 11, 2020, Author: Hello Joburg

Jess Clarke is the owner of Elizabeth Summer, a gorgeous proudly South African brand famed for its big customised hats, unique fedorastyle hats, one-of-a-kind baskets and other accessories. We sat down with this girl boss to chat about her brand, autumn/winter launches and Mother’s Day gifts. 


What made you start Elizabeth Summer?  

I’d just launched a big telecom brand in South Africa and knew then and there that it was my last event. I then went to New York for a friend’s wedding after not having a job for a few months, and something there inspired me to make my own hats. That’s how Elizabeth Summer came about in August 2016. The name came from my middle name, Elizabeth. 

What was the biggest challenge of starting your own business? 

Learning how to do accounts, deal with staff and clients as well as import without any real advice or guidance. It’s been a massive learning curve for me. On the flip side, the most rewarding part is to see people who I don’t know wearing my products. Theres no better feeling! Also, employing staff who were previously in very average jobs with no steady income. 

Where do you see Elizabeth Summer in the next four years?  

Hopefully sold to some big company. I’ll be on an island. *laughs* 


What are some of your bestselling items? 

I’d have to say our hats as they’re also our longeststanding product. 

What new releases can we expect this autumn/winter? 

I’m always in denial about the colder months! We’ll continue the boho look with our boho handbags, wool and cashmere beanies as well as classic accessories like cashmere scarves. We’ll also be selling beautiful fully sequinned jackets that I’ve designed as sequins are a big trend right now. The jackets will come in short and long options. 

What brands do you stock?  

In addition to our own Elizabeth Summer products, we stock Naudic clothing and resort wear, Chila Bags handbags and Quay Australia sunglasses. 


What would make the most special Mother’s Day gift? 

Our personalised sequin baskets are a real treat and something a bit different for Mother’s Day. 

Tell us a bit about your bridal offering. 

For summer brides, we offer our famous personalised hats, which come in the Madagascar straw or Ivory paper option, along with personalised kimono-style gowns and fleece slippers. For winter brides, we have our fleece gowns that come in many different colours and deliciously comfy sheepskin slippers. Our classic monogram or sequinned baskets, monogram clutch bags and monogram espadrilles are a must for every honeymoon no matter the season. 

Where do you enjoy getting pampered? 

I’m a big supporter of ownerrun businesses such as Toast & Co in Craighall Park, where I get my nails done. I’m not a spa kind of galI don’t have the patience to spend the day beautifying!   

Where’s your favourite place to eat out? 

Bellinis is an old favourite that I grew up going to. I literally remember going there in my baby seat when I was little. The menu is small, but all the food is simply delicious. I love this local spot because it’s nothing fancy but always has a great vibe. 

What are you currently watching on Netflix?  

Don’t be shocked, but Formula 1: Drive to Survive. Before that was Love is Blind, which was mindless and great!  

Unit 7 (1st Floor), Birdhaven Court, 68 St Andrew Street, Birdhaven 

079 138 5266 

Facebook: @elizabethsummersa  

Instagram: @elizabethsummerboutique  

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