1) How did you come up with the name Chez Lajoie?
Lajoie represents the fusion of history and legacy with modern technology and forward thinking. It is, of course my family name, but the reason I chose it was to bring a new life and energy to my own roots. That’s why I moved to Montreal and that’s why the brand is called Lajoie.
2) Whois behind the brand from a design and business perspective?
Currently everything is still being designed by me (Jordan) and it has since I launched. Pascal came on board about a year ago to help with business development, and we both have business/ marketing backgrounds academically. Personally, I have a long running arts and design history of everything from paintings to sculptures and music production to graphic design. I consider myself a creative thinker and have always been fascinated with bringing ideas to life in their truest form. This means I might sketch a concept out, then realize that it would be more impactful in video, for example. This is how the journey of a creative process flows, and I think it would be neglectful to not follow it.
3) Your products include handbags, wallets and key rings. Are you planning on extending your offerings?
Of course! The beauty of this industry is that no accessory is off limits. The main thing that dictates what we end up going with as products is timing. If it makes sense to the collection we will find a way to make what we consider the best _____ possible, and this will eventually stretch far beyond wallets and bags.
4) What’s the signature style or characteristics of Lajoie products ?
The most important quality that sets us apart from 95% of the other leather accessory brands out there is the fact that our products are 100% hand stitched. You can tell the difference when you see the stitching – it is beautiful and consistent on the front and back. We do all of this in house in Mile End. Aesthetically, you will also notice that we not only use leather from the best and most versatile tannery in North America (Horween) but it is thicker than you will normally find on similar products. The leather will naturally get a bit thinner as it is worn and the thickness adds that layer of durability allowing the piece to live for hundreds of years.
5) What’s the price range and where can we find them?
Our prices currently range from about $30 for key tags to just under $2,000 for our duffle bags. Some of these pieces are exclusive to our site, but we also have a fantastic selection available to see in Montreal at C’est Beau, on Saint Viateur and Artgang on St. Hubert. We also have locations in the United States which can be found on our website.
6) Can you tell us more about your bespoke products?
Our bespoke business is a huge part of what we do at Lajoie. We want to create heirlooms for the future for our clients, and the most meaningful valuable way to do this is through a bespoke piece. “One of one – none before it, none to come”. We will sit down with the client and start sketching out ideas, taking measurements and discussing everything from colours to the way that they intend on using their piece. It is a very intimate experience that has led us to making everything from briefcases to gun straps to hijabs and everything in between.
7) Who are you targeting as customers? What’s your mission?
Our mission is really to change the way people approach leather accessories. We want to challenge the way your products are designed and the way they are created. For example, our bi-fold wallets don’t feature any specific pockets for change. We found that when you load up with coins, it creates a hard pocket to sit on and not only is that terrible for your back but it just doesn’t look stylish. And as far as the visual aspect, we want to tell a story with the line movement and shapes of our products. Leave it up to the audience to try and offer their perspective on why it was designed that specific way – just like any other true art.
8) What did you learn as an entrepreneur and what would be your advice to other entrepreneurs?
The great part of the day-to-day thing is that the learning never ever stops. There are new challenges every day. What you need to be great at is time management and staying true to your vision no matter what. And above all, you need to work extremely hard. An open schedule needs to be looked at as an opportunity to gain ground on your competition when they get caught up sleeping in. If it’s something you’re interested in, and are ready mentally and financially, then do it. Just try. Make something, cook, build a website, sell a service – whatever your idea is just try it. You’ll find out quickly if it’s something you want to keep doing.
9) What did you learn as a brand designer about design and the fashion industry?
Subtle details are key. Whether it is in your story and how you present, or in the actual product itself. These are the things that customers will base their decision on and eventually tell their friends about later (for better or worse).
10) What would be your predictions regarding the future of handbags in general and in a bespoke perspective?
I would like to educate consumers in what they should be expecting in terms of quality vs. what they are paying for. There is definitely space to be made for beautiful products which are also made to last 100 years. Bespoke products is nothing new but it is hard to find at a reasonable price in the leather accessory market.
11) What’s next for Lajoie?
Well we actually just wrapped up a week-long pop up on Newbury Street in Boston, and will be heading to the One-of-a-Kind show in Toronto starting on the 24th of November. We will be releasing two new styles and colors as well in the weeks to come as well as a full new collection next Spring.
Founder Editor & Personal shopper.