Designer Sarah Jane Bourque’s foundation is her unyielding commitment to excellence forged over 24 years as a professional designer.
Here, she chats to us at House of Coco and tells us more about her journey…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
I launched Seneca Jewellery in the fall of 2017. Previously, I was the designer for my former jewellery brand for 15 years. I sold the business to start and grow our family. During that time I thought a lot about my future. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I would create if I were to start another collection and that is how Seneca emerged.
What’s your background?
I studied fashion design at SCAD in Savannah, Georgia and at Woodbury University in Los Angeles; after graduating cum laude, I entered into an emersion program, where I studied haute couture in Paris. I then moved to New York City and was a luxury handbag designer for Barry Kieselstein-Cord. It was there that I was drawn into the magical world of jewellery. My mother was also a jewellery designer who definitely influenced my path as well. Following several wonderful years, I scratched an itch and moved to the desert southwest (Phoenix, Arizona) to start my own jewellery collection — Saint by Sarah Jane. Saint became a national brand for over 12 years and was sold at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales. It was a fun ride!
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
I am the sole owner and creative director of Seneca Jewellery. I work with top-notch, local artisans and jewellers to create my pieces. As a startup business, I think it is very important that I understand and know how to do every aspect of the business from the accounting, inventory, stone purchasing, designing, marketing, PR and forecasting. Over time, I may loosen the reigns, but for now I do not want to have any potential blind spots.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
Nothing that I can think of — perhaps because 12 years at my previous company taught me so much about how to execute and what mistakes to avoid. Also, luckily, I am surrounded by some sharp people who are not afraid to give me their opinion when asked.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
The hardest challenge is conveying the how well made the pieces are made – the quality craftsmanship of the collection; trying to build customers’ trust and assure them that the images they are seeing on the website are just as nice and in many cases nicer in person. For now, I embrace the challenge and enjoy the freedom to design for my customers, while not being beholden to corporate America.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I walk 12 miles in the morning, 5 days a week.
2019 is almost here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
I have three main goals this year: 1) continue to build out the collections 2) increase my private clientele with custom pieces and 3) gain more brand recognition.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
British Vogue’s and Tatler’s interest in featuring my collections. Also, seeing how proud my children are of me.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
Paris. I have so many happy memories there from school and work trips.
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Dr. Hauschka’s Eye Balm, IS Clinical Pro Heal Serum and Precious Nature Oil for my hair.
So many things! Style is your mood, your essence, who you are and sometimes who you want to be or what you want to say. The way you dress and carry yourself is your calling card through life. At this stage in my life, style is about dressing to suit my lifestyle. My lifestyle is very active and casual, so I really enjoy simple dressing with pops of luxury.
Best thing about London to you?
The people, I loved the people!
Statement shoe or statement bag?
Statement handbag, but I don’t think I should have to choose!
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear every day?
A white t-shirt.
Favourite love song?
“Let’s Stay Together,” Al Green
Best place for a coffee?
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
You can’t change someone. You can only change yourself.
20 minute naps.
If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would love to go somewhere in Asia. Perhaps Japan. The Japanese culture intrigues me.
In the future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
One happy customer at a time! As my customer base continues to expand, I will continually re-assess Seneca Jewellery’s growth, with quality and craftsmanship being non-negotiable.
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