- Jordan Lajoie – founder and creative director behind the luxury leather brand Lajoie – is a polymath. He walked away from a career in finance and decided to recalibrate in Australia. Unbeknownst to him he would launch what is currently a global business from his bedroom with a handful of leather working tools. He chats to us about where he draws inspiration, and has some extremely practical advice for how you can fund that retirement trip.
- Lajoie offers a made to order service. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve made out of leather for a client?
- Over the first couple of years, custom products and made-to-order pieces were a huge part of getting the brand out there. For me, this really helped fuel my creativity by forcing me to learn how to make everything from rifle straps and knife rolls to aprons and chopstick sets, all while trying to maintain the essence of our brand. Of all of these interesting pieces, I would have to say that the most unique to date, was the hijab we did for an artist about a year and a half ago. Normally these head garments are made from a very stretchy material so that it can comfortably form around one’s head. As you know, leather basically doesn’t stretch at all, so the biggest challenge with this one was to have it perfectly fit around his head. Luckily, I measured and cut properly, so although I remember sweating quite a bit when he first tried it on, after about 15 hrs of stitching, it fit like a glove!
- How has your time living in Australia influenced your designs?
- Living in Australia for me, was like recharging in paradise. Before moving there I was working 80 hour weeks as a financial planner, but in Australia I was only doing 40. At first I spent this extra time just exploring and building relationships with all these new people around me. Naturally, my mind was drowning with inspiration from being surrounded by so many amazing things that were all new to me. I had tons of new ideas that needed to get out somehow, and nothing would cut it other than a brand new medium altogether. The things that originally inspired me to start are still pumping through my blood every day, and the fact that I don’t have a formal “fashion” education behind my designs keeps everything original to me. This means that at the stem of my creativity, there is nothing in my mind telling me what is or isn’t doable.
- Where do you get inspiration for your collections?
- The themes of my art have always been very focused around social commentary. I like to explore things that can broadly relate to all of us, then filter down to details that eerily give you the feeling that maybe you’re the one I’m talking about. These are metaphors for life and case studies on how we all interact with each other. For example, our new collection Gone by Midnight, is all about the tortures and triumphs that transform and mature us throughout our twenties. When I was designing my first collection, someone who I consider one of my best mentors told me that if I can make the products speak and tell a story – just using design – I’ll win. Ever since, this is something I keep top-of-mind anytime I design anything. Just like a great music album, I want each individual piece to have it’s own story and to able to stand its own ground, but when the whole collection is put together, it tells a much deeper and complete tale.
What is your favourite part about designing a new collection?
- To me, the best part about designing anything is the creative process itself. Taking one idea, then bending it a million times, looking at it from different angles, and thinking about it from every possible perspective is so fun. I think that if your finished product comes out looking almost nothing like your original idea then you’ve done your job properly.
- Why have you chosen Montreal as Lajoie’s headquarters?
- To be totally honest, when I was leaving Australia it was only because my visa was finished. I wasn’t ready to go back home yet, but I had to. I knew I was on to something with leather work, but wasn’t sure where it was going to take me yet. So I thought it might be fitting to look at my own roots and consider Quebec, where my family originally came from. There’s a grittiness and elegance that resonates in Montreal that was calling to me. I’m fascinated by contrasts and knew I had to come here.
- Psst: Head to our Instagram right now for a chance to win your own Lajoie Cardholder!
How do you spend a typical morning?
- Everyone that knows me knows I love the mornings. I usually start the day by making a mean breakfast at home, going for a run, then getting to the studio as early as possible. I do all of the things that require a focused mind first, and if possible I’ll save the more mundane and automated tasks for the late afternoon and evening. Me and the team also do a quick rundown every morning of what is on the agenda and what might have happened since we all saw each other last.
- If someone had 99$ what should they spend it on?
- If you feel like hustling a bit you won’t even need me to tell you what to do, but the best way to get the most out of this money is this… assuming the average person reading this article is about 25 years old, I would have to suggest putting that extra cash into an aggressive balanced portfolio. The compound growth over the next 40 years will really make that money move and you’ll be $9,212.05 richer when you turn 65. To take it one step further, if you do that inside your TFSA you’ll say goodbye to any tax implications as well! That might sound kind of boring right now, but remember me when you tell your friends how your retirement trip around the world only cost you $99!