[BEST OF OC] La Diseñadora (the Designer): Jen Johnson

With its cutesy frocks reminiscent of 1960s and ’70s girls’ clothing updated for the modern gal, the Dainty June line proves that Jen Johnson is no stranger to the fashion world. She served as the Huntington Beach-based E.C. Star’s head designer for almost 10 years, producing collection after collection of vintage- and mod-inspired pieces.

Johnson, 37, has lived in Huntington Beach her whole life. But up until recently, she didn’t really have many positive things to say about it. One was the early punk rock scene, of which she caught the tail end as bass player and singer for hardcore punk band F-Minus. While F-Minus still boast many a fan these days—just check out the declarations of obsessive love/comments on YouTube clips—the outfit disbanded in 2004.

But now? “It’s The Beach. It’s what keeps me here,” Johnson explains. “The fact that I live a block away from it is my favorite thing—I always wanted to live closer to the beach when I was growing up.”

Photo: Star Foreman

Though she has been surrounded by the surf/skate world her whole life, Johnson only recently picked up surfing during a 2004 trip to Costa Rica. She recalls trips to the shore with her parents and boogie boarding, but that’s about it.

“I always thought it was funny I lived a block from the beach and never tried surfing,” she says with a laugh. “Everything about this place reminds me of growing up as a kid and taking a bus to the beach from Warner . . . getting to the beach, bumming change, watching boys skate on the pier, bumming money to get back home.”

Though Johnson says she’s still just barely starting out, she’s already had a few scares. “I’ve definitely been places where I crashed into big rocks, especially down the coast in South County—I’m learning not to let that happen again,” she says. “I’ve been real close to dolphins running into my legs and scaring the crap out of me, and then me realizing that and it not mattering at all because dolphins are gigantic! No sharks yet, although I keep hearing about sightings.”

In the meantime, Dainty June is about ready to release its second collection for fall. The label, run by sisters Erica and Jennifer Daking along with Johnson, has a few trade shows coming up abroad, and the trio are looking to take the line to more storefronts in major North American cities.

But until that huge rush of fall orders comes through, you can find Johnson on her new daily routine of taking trips down to the sand.

“I don’t know how hippie it sounds, but I’ll go on tropical vacations and watch sunsets in Hawaii or wherever, and then we’ll come home and realize, ‘Oh, wow, we actually have that a block from our house, and it’s just as pretty,’” Johnson says. “We kind of take that for granted.”

Dainty June is available at www.daintyjune.com and Vintage Inspired Apparel and Home Décor, 144 Ave. Del Mar, San Clemente, (949) 276-5533.

 
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