About Nina J


My journey into festival fashion

The sun is shining and the P-Funk All-Stars are playing. My sister and I are selling our wares in a big field by mainstage, Lollapalooza 1994. The Beastie Boys are up next!! With Smashing Pumpkins headlining.

I had come up with a simple idea: buy a bunch of button-down shirts at Value Village, shorten the sleeves, add a couple of black stripes down the side and a funky logo patch. And suddenly you had a vintage-rockabilly-grunge style bowling shirt. The style crossed over to hip-hop and rave as well, with a similar simple design for cutie short waitress dresses for girls (pictured). My booth sold out later that day but whatever, who cares. I was nearly done my film degree and heading for cinematic greatness.


                                  Raver Dress, London 1998

But then I moved to London. Despite having found myself at the first ever Love Parade in Berlin, 1989 at the ripe old age of 17, my real love for electronic music laid latent til I had got thoroughly bored with the grunge scene. Just a three-hour drive from Seattle, how could I NOT dive into all that mosh madness, at least for a few years! Then, with a mind-altering Orb concert and a little white pill, I was catapulted into a whole other world. By the time I got to London in 1997, rave was pretty much dead, but there were still massive shows with the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy, Fatboy Slim residencies, Daft Punk at the London Astoria, and trips down to Brighton for Carl Cox and Ed Rush & Optical. I dunked and dove through London dance culture, worked at Virgin Megastore, shopped at Camden Market, and just generally enjoyed the hell out of my post-university years.

                      Nina Jones aka Nina J Skates on the set of Alien vs. Predator II, working as a lighting technician.  Lamp Operator, Set Electrician.  She wears a tank top and hip waders, stands crotch-deep in murky water.  Luckily this is a sewer recreation in the studio!

              Working as a set lighting technician, Alien vs. Predator

Back in Vancouver after I did that to death, I got myself a job as a lighting technician on film sets. My hometown was now on the map as a major studio hub dubbed "Hollywood North". All in the same year I worked lights and cable for Catwoman, I Robot, Chronicles of Riddick and X-Men! this continued for quite a few years, with free time between contracts to go on surf and snowboard trips, play with photography and photojournalism and explore all kinds of other creative endeavours.

        Nina Jones aka Nina J Skates sits at her sewing machine in her studio in East Vancouver, surrounded by her creations.

                        A recent version of my sewing studio

Once the film industry started to wear me down, I found myself spending a lot of time in my home sewing studio, just playing around with new designs. On countless stormy Vancouver days I sat at my machine in my cozy studio, dreading my next work day dragging cable and heavy gear through muddy outdoor locations. It was time for a career change. In 2009 I came up with a design that EVERYBODY was ALWAYS commenting on. With an elegantly hung ruffle, and a unique waistband style that later got copied a lot, my soft bamboo ruffle pants were my first hit since Lollapalooza '94. I got back into vending again, and with it, more dance culture. Re-introduced to a new kind of club scene, but now surrounded by mountains and trees and sunshine and stars. Festivals!! Burning Man!! Deep and heavy crazy bass and sparkly shiny decadent designs.

        Nina J with her mid-2010s clothing line, Sweetass Designs.  She stands next to her vending table at a street festival, clothing and bikinis hang in the background

                    Vending at a street festival in Vancouver, mid 2010s

Since then I've dropped the vending and sell only online, letting the internet do my selling for me. Festivals are now purely for dancing and fun, and of course gathering inspiration for the next season. As such I don't need to mass-produce piles of stock: Each piece is now made to order, especially for you, with love and skill.

And I rely on personal contact with you, the customer, to know how I'm doing! Please do let me know how your item fits and suits you, either by email or on my feedback page.

Thanks for taking the time to find out more about me!