Alumnus builds business in Brookings

Tony Gorder

Tony GorderEditor-in-Chief

Jael Thorpe is out to prove that the Midwest can be fashionable and stylish.

“I think that there’s a mentality that in the Midwest we don’t have culture and style,” Thorpe said. “That’s been one of my life goals 8212; to try and really bring that here more and make that more accessible.”

Thorpe, 26, is no stranger to the Brookings community. After graduating in 2006, the SDSU alumnus opened up Jael Photography in Brookings. She also is on the Brookings City Council.

J.Ella Couture is her latest endeavor. Thorpe’s photography studio now doubles as a boutique, housing a variety of stylish accessories and clothing like earrings, bracelets, hats, gloves, scarves, purses, magnets and more 8212; even men’s hats and ties.

Many of the items are one-of-a-kind because they are designed by Thorpe and created here in Brookings with the help of student employees.

“The stuff that I design, I could easily have produced in China, but I like to be able to contribute some jobs to Brookings.”

Thorpe graduated with a degree in journalism and a minor in political science. It wasn’t until her junior year, however, that she realized she wanted to own her own business doing something with art or design.

In the tiny, rural town of Gary, Thorpe began her first business venture, taking photos of her friends and her younger sisters’ friends. After graduating, she acquired the photography studio she still uses today behind Cover to Cover downtown at 312 Main Ave.

Thorpe works as a wedding photographer, senior portrait photographer, and commercial photo-journalistic photographer. She describes her style as “photojournalism with a fashion twist.”

“I really try to make people look good but natural,” she said. “I think with a lot of photography, people just look sort of plastic or too retouched. I want it to look like you, but I want you to look really good.”

Thorpe is also active politically. She has served on Brookings City Council since 2009 when she was appointed by Mayor Tim Reed to carry out his council term that he left after becoming mayor. She was elected to the council for a three-year term in April.

“I’ve always been really interested in [politics]. I feel that the place where you can sometimes have the most impact is at a local level. A lot of the things I deal with affect people’s daily lives.”

J.Ella Couture accessories and clothing range in price, and Thorpe pointed out that she offers many gift items in the $5 to $10 price range.

Regular business hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, go to

#1.1825217:3914160087.png:Jael-Ryan-Robinson-2.png:Jael Thorpe, a 2006 SDSU alumnus, has become one of Brooking?s professional photographers. She recently began selling J.Ella Corture ? fashion clothes and accessories, many of which she designs herself. Thorpe says one of her goals is to bring culture and style to the Midwest.:Collegian Photo by Ryan Robinson