The Accessories Designer’s Dog Jet Has Inspired New Products & A New Venture
By Sarah Fisher
Entrepreneur Jack Jackson has been spreading a message of love in Toronto’s transgender community and gaining visibility worldwide as an official partner of the Ties to Love™ Campaign, after moving to the six from the UK. As a fiercely proud Torontonian, passionate advocate of transgender issues, and talented accessories designer for both humans and dogs, Jack has some new ventures on the go that we are excited to share with you. Of course we were also thrilled upon finding out ‘dog owner’ is now another fitting descriptor for the designer! Read on as we meet Boxer Jet Jackson, chat new merch, and DoggyDates.
We know you have been busy since we last chatted about the Ties to Love campaign. What has been happening with your accessories line?
I’ve branched out from selling just bow ties to celebrate my love of Toronto with a ‘Lover Toronto’ tank and with a nod to my UK roots added a ‘Transpotting’ Tank to coincide with the premier of Trainspotting. The real emphasis of course being on the slogan ‘Choose your Future, Choose Life’ – an important reminder for a lot of our demographic that we really can determine and shape the course of our lives. We also designed a new lapel pin and ran a promotion in a video we produced for Transgender Day of Visibility asking local trans people to give advice to their younger self.
Congrats on adding a new puppy to your life! How did Jet Jackson find you? What role does this adorable boxer play in the family business?
I think last time we spoke I had mentioned how dog broody I was – well it was unrelenting. I kept putting off the inevitable as I was so busy with work and travel for fashion shows. However busy I was, there was something missing. As is so common with entrepreneurs, and often to our detriment, we tend to neglect our own well-being, but thankfully a wonderful friend, who also works in social entrepreneurship, intervened and sent me the information on Jet telling me to make the call as if my life depended on it. A week later, Jet Jackson exploded into my life. Jet re-energized me, provided me with ‘my family in Toronto’, a whole new circle of friends and was the inspiration for my new business DoggyDates. Obviously Jet features heavily as a regular model for both alljackedup and DoggyDates.
We’ve heard you have some new and exciting items our readers will love. Can you tell us a bit about your Dog Face cushions and Get Pinked canvases?
My love of action photography was always going to play a big part in my dog walking business, but I wanted to take it a step further. When Jet was 3 months old, we met Lucy, the sweetest little hound mix rescue puppy who was just a couple of weeks younger than Jet and they became inseparable. Lucy has spent many a day at the DoggyDates HQ since and I simply couldn’t resist a photo shoot. The images were so striking that I wanted to permanently showcase them, and so the ‘Woofer Cushions’ and ‘Get Pinked Canvases’ were born. The wonderful team at The Bone House, who have been a constant champion of my work loved them and are currently displaying the canvases for Pride.
What are your longer term plans for DoggyDates?
As the business grows I’d like to be able to employ staff – in particular trans or gender non-conforming employees. I want to give back to my community. Trans people are still underemployed or face barriers to employment despite the recent amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code. The amendment prohibits discrimination against transgender people and was introduced by NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo who said on its passing “To me it’s homage to a dear, dear friend who was lost — as many transgender folk are lost — to suicide…. the amendment will do more than just help transgender people be accepted. It will change a great inequity that has been in place forever”. Trans people also suffer higher rates of anxiety and exercise has always been key to looking after myself and keeping anxiety at bay, so I’m hoping to be able to employ trans people, give them the love and companionship that dogs so freely give us, and get people out, meeting people and exercising.
What is on your radar for Toronto pride this weekend?
We had a busy weekend with alljackedup and DoggyDates at our favorite market of the year last weekend – Pink Market, so we’re taking a long overdue weekend off. It’s the first time I’ve not worked during Pride since alljackedup launched, but I’m determined to try to take a more balance approach to life. Jet’s going to her first Trans March this evening, and we’ll also stop by Allan Gardens to check out the Trans Community Fair this afternoon.
And finally, where are some of your favorite dog-friendly hangout spots to take Jet?
I rarely go anywhere without Jet be it a work meeting, social event or sport – Jet comes with me or we don’t go. Thankfully, Cannonball, a hidden gem right across the street from me allows dogs on their back patio so that’s where all of my business meetings take place. If I’m meeting friends, we might head to Dundas and Carlaw for their BBQ, or Rooster Coffee House and take a much needed quiet moment to reflect and look out over this amazing city I’m so so proud to call my home.