A Rendez-Vous Chez Lajoie
Good Taste Made From Montreal
My First Introduction To The Wizzards Of Luxury Accessories!
We all have have this false idea that local brands don’t have what it takes to produce great luxury accessories. Walking up St. Laurent boulevard, on the last day of Mural Festival, Be Noire brought my attention to Lajoie’s booth. I was immediately impressed by the variety of their leather accessories, not to mention the quality. I’m no leather connaisseur, but when you have their products in hand, you can feel the luxury.
I walked away empty handed, but nonetheless the brand peaked my interest. Through aggressive and sophisticated research (facebook stalking), I found out that Lajoie is a tag team of Jordan Lajoie, Founder and Pascal Courtois, VP of Business Development. Also, given that they’re only a year and a half old, they have a pretty impressive resumé of clients and collabs like Marcus Troy and Timberland for Sharp Magazine
Last week, I met-up with the duo at their Mile-End atelier, to learn more about the budding Montreal brand.
Sault Ste. Marie…Australia…Montreal…how did it all start?
Before I went to Australia, I was a financial advisor. I sold that business and moved to Australia for 2 years. I used to work 70-80 hour work weeks and then I went down to 35-37 hours/week. I felt like I had so much free time on my hands. So naturally, to kill the boredom, I started painting and sculpting, doing a bunch of stuff on the side. I wanted to sink my hands into something so I started with leather and the art form seemed like it had so many different avenues. I started selling my own products to friends and family. I wasn’t pushing the business that much, since I knew I had to come back once my Visa expired.
My Visa ran out so I came back just in time for Christmas with my family but I wasn’t ready to stop travelling. With my last name being “Lajoie” and having French roots, I did a lot of research about Montreal and Quebec. Given the artistic community and cost of living, I knew this was the right place. I got started right away. I had all my tools with me and started planning.
Has language been a barrier?
I started learning french when I got here. It hasn’t been a big barrier. I’m able to navigate. 80% of the time, I end up speaking with people in the states or Toronto. Overall, learning languages is fun. I’m around a lot of people who speak french, so I’m picking it up.
You cited your high school teacher as being your creative catalyst. Does he know the impact he had on you?
Mr. Decerbo. I haven’t talked to him much since high school. I ran into him a couple of times. The reason I mentioned him is because, if I brought an idea to him, it didn’t matter the subject matter (sex/drugs), there were no barriers. He just wanted to understand what I was trying to say. He encouraged me to use things that were bold to really drive the painting’s meaning home. I don’t think he knows the impact [
Has your family been supportive of your creative projects and Lajoie?
My family is supportive. Like most parents, they would want me to be more secure but they’re supportive. Starting Lajoie, they have been very supportive from the get-go.
Are there any other creative in your family?
My brother. A lot of his stuff is really cool but I think he is still looking for the thing that carries him farther.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I start from scratch. I block out everything I’ve seen before and think, ‘What would the best version of this project be like?” As far as aesthetics, we use really high-quality leather. We want the aesthetic to last as long as the product. I keep the design bold, classy and modern. All my products can be pulled out of a suit or jeans. I like to keep it simple… don’t go overboard.
What sets you apart from other local leather luxury accessories brands?
We’re not just trying to create a company that makes wallets, bags and leather stuff. We’re trying to create unique pieces of art. No one else is hand-stitching their products. I also haven’t seen anyone in Montreal using leather from the same supplier. Our quality is on another level. We’re trying to make something that is beautiful… We want it to tell a story with each piece.
What’s your favorite piece?
It changes all the time. Maybe, the Summerville wallet. It’s beautiful. It’s so refined, it’s stupid. The whole body is one continuous piece of leather. I drew it out, cut it up and stitched. When I held it in my hand, I thought it was the best thing I have ever done. It makes the first one look like a 4-year old did it. It’s just so beautiful. People will interpret it in a different way. The shapes look like mountains and its perfectly symmetrical.
Tell me about your custom job with 2fik.
Pascal met 2fik at a private event. He let us know he was working on a new project and asked if we can make a Hijab. The whole thing was fun and one of the most fulfilling custom pieces I’ve ever done. Being able to collaborate with passionate and ambitious artists is what it’s all about. To get this shape, it was very challenging but we were able to do it. The hijab took 14 hours to do. Think of the way it fits… The opening needs to be perfect… there were so many variables and things I have never come close to doing before. I hoped to God that it fit. The first shot, it was done well and no tweaking was needed.
Any other high profile clients in the works?
Well, we can’t say just yet but, he’s a Canadian hip hop artist. We were asked to do a duffle bag for his music video. That was something that came out of the festival. One thing led to another and we were talking to the right people. I’ve never done a duffle bag before. The bag is completely hand stitched and light weight which is a premier when it comes to luxury accessories. It has stoppers that fit the aesthetic, YKK zipper and the shoulder strap will be done today.
Are there any vegan alternatives?
That’s a fair question. We were asked that a few times at the Mural festival. The answer is, there is no alternative yet. Real leather is the strongest form that we have so far. But, in the future, there is no reason not to explore it. It’s on the table but we haven’t got to that yet.
Do you see the brand moving into other apparel?
If it has to do with leather, it’s on the table. We are a leather luxury accessories company and we want to do this better than anyone else. If we start to dabble in other areas, we want to do everything great and not just good.
Everything is sold out online, congratulations!
The Mural festival was crazy and we are working on a new capsule for July 16th with new colors ways.
Do you anticipate a storefront in the near future?
Eventually. That’s always on the table but at this point, it’s only a dream. We are only a 1.5 years old. We don’t want to grow faster than we can handle. We want to make sure that everything is hand-stitched. This is not something we want to compromise.
10 years from now, where do you see the brand?
I want the people and the following. I want people who appreciate the quality and art we are providing. We just want to be our own company. We’re aiming for curated boutiques who carry original pieces. Places where people will look for quality and details before checking the price tag.