Long Distance: Former Baton Rougean goes from eager intern to successful handbag designer

Name: Justin Gloston
Age: 34
Here: LSU student
There: Owner of R3FORM handbags and JG Design Creative

In one word, Justin Gloston would describe his products as “functional.” It’s a term he learned the value of while he worked for major fashion labels such as BCBG, Forever 21 and JustFab. Working with big brands gave him a window into a fashion industry that sometimes seemed more concerned with getting trends into stores than product quality.

Quickly moving from intern to designer, Gloston climbed the fashion industry ladder with fervor and dedication. He worked his way through the ins and outs of the business, keeping notes on everything from the design process to shipment orders and overseas relationships.

Now Gloston lives in Los Angeles and owns and distributes his own line of luxury accessories, R3FORM, keeping his focus on quality and affordability. Through his personal business, JG Design Creative, he also does freelance design and consulting for large retail clients.

Gloston shares his thoughts on Louisiana, Los Angeles and the fashion biz.

When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
I’ve known I wanted to be an artist since I could pick up a crayon, but it wasn’t until college that I realized what kind of artist I wanted to be. I never really thought about handbag design for a long time, because I wasn’t aware of how huge the fashion industry really is.

225 magazine feature on R3FORM designer Justin Gloston, a former Baton Rougean who is now designing handbags in LA
R3FORM’s Hyde Open Toe Mule, $118

What’s a typical day like at R3FORM and JG Design Creative?
My days usually start at 6 a.m., when I check my morning emails and follow up with factories and clients. After that, I’ll usually go out for a walk to get coffee, and then it’s down to the grind. Between R3FORM and JG Design Creative, I’m working till the sun sets most days.

What is your favorite thing to do with free time in L.A.?
Taking walks and watching people. This city is so diverse; it’s amazing the range of bizarre and beautiful things you can see within one hour around town.

What advice would you give to people who want to be designers?
I would tell them to stay with it. I know it’s hard and difficult and annoying, and you may not be doing exactly what you want to be, but it is so, so important to learn every aspect of an industry. Employers want multi-faceted people. That is the master key to being where you want to be as a designer.

R3FORM’s Hyde Signature Tote, $298, and Knotted Needle Bracelets, $48
R3FORM’s Hyde Signature Tote, $298, and Knotted Needle Bracelets, $48

What was the most shocking change you experienced when moving from Baton Rouge to Los Angeles?
I remember when I was young and living in Louisiana, all I knew about Los Angeles was from things I’d seen on TV. But when I got here I realized how big it really is. That was a big culture shock, as well as the diversity. There’s a different kind of energy in this city.

Gloston’s favorite things about L.A.

225 magazine feature on R3FORM designer Justin Gloston, a former Baton Rougean who is now designing handbags in LA1. The weather: “It’s always 75 and sunny, something every person in Louisiana is always wishing for.”
2. The liveliness: “The fact that you can always find something to do at any hour of the day or night.”
3. The people: “It’s very engaging to see and experience so many cultures.”His No. 1 tip for L.A. visitors: “Do as much as you can while you’re here. There’s too much to see and do here not to experience it all. You can be tired when you get back home.”

Three things he misses most about Baton Rouge

1. The food: “No. 1 thing, hands down. The food here is great; it’s light, it’s diverse. But every so often a Southerner just needs that good, heavy, spicy Southern food.”
2. The quiet nights: “I miss being able to look up at the sky and see the stars. Here, you have to travel two hours away from the city before you can see anything more than a haze.”
3. The people: “I know I just said I like the people in L.A., but I miss the people in Baton Rouge for a different reason. Everyone back home knows each other, and even if they don’t, it’s normal to strike up a conversation with a total stranger. Here, if I start chatting with someone in the grocery store line, all I get is weird looks.”