Since she launched Litany Jewelry in 2012, Minneapolis designer Jen Bouchard has developed a reputation for her historically inspired, cosmopolitan adornments. Pieced together from vintage metals, gemstones, Czech glass beads, tassels, and chains sourced from around the world, Bouchard’s eclectic, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces are inspired by the items she collected during her travels abroad while working as a travel writer.
This summer, the designer is giving the jewelry brand a new name, Bouchard Design Co., and broadening its scope to include leather goods, men’s accessories, textile collaborations, and limited-run clothing pieces. The evolution came in part through the involvement of Bouchard’s husband, Michael, a self-taught leatherworker, who is partnering with her on the new venture. As for Bouchard’s distinctive jewelry, it will continue to be stocked in more than 30 stores across the U.S., including 18 in Minnesota.
Bouchard Design Co. launches today with a new website, branding, and lookbook, and a trunk show is planned this Thursday at Kisa Boutique‘s downtown Minneapolis skyway pop-up at RBC Plaza from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. I chatted with Bouchard about the relaunch.
Q: Why are you making the transition from Litany to Bouchard Design Co.?
A: Over the past year my husband Michael has become a large part of the business. He grew up around engineers and artists, and has this amazing ability to figure out solutions to some of my design challenges and help me think beyond my own aesthetic background. He’s a wine salesman by trade, and a self-taught leatherworker and welder. His father, Paul Bouchard, is a professional artistbased in New York, and Michael learned a lot about line drawing and sculpture and the art and design world in general growing up with him. Like me, he’s very interested in international cultures and the history behind the elements we source to include in our pieces. As more opportunities opened up for me through the Litany brand, it became clear to me that it was time to broaden the scope of the company to include his expertise and to be able to take on larger design projects and collaborations.
Jewelry featured in Bouchard Design Co.’s new lookbook
Q: What will Bouchard Design Co. encompass as far as products? Litany used internationally sourced antique and vintage jewelry pieces. Will this continue to be the case with Bouchard Design Co.?
A: We will continue to create the one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces and capsule collections we’ve become known for over the past few years. We’re currently working on a men’s accessories line that will incorporate more of Michael’s leatherwork. One of the most exciting things about the rebrand is that we will be collaborating with other designers on textiles and eventually limited-run clothing pieces. The common thread that will tie the collections together will be a focus on international aesthetics and the stories that come with each piece.
Q: Can you tell me more about your professional and design background?
A: I have an academic background in aesthetics and international cultures—a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Fine Arts and French from St. Olaf College, and an M.A. in French and Francophone Studies from ULCA—that led me into a career as a writer. My first business, Lucidité Writing (www.luciditewriting.com) allowed me the opportunity to travel and write about culture and aesthetics.
Q: How did you begin designing jewelry?
A: I collected jewelry and interesting elements, such as 1920s bullion tassels from a flea market outside of Paris, antique carved jade beads from Tokyo, and vintage milagros from Mexico, from all over the world. In 2012, I hit a point in my life where I needed to be working more with my hands—still forming narratives, but in a different way. I started designing jewelry pieces that paid homage to the places I’d traveled and I was flattered (and admittedly surprised) when they resonated with so many local collectors. Over the past three years working as a designer, I’ve discovered that my strength lies in creating collections of internationally inspired pieces that dialogue with one another in terms of themes and aesthetic elements.
An image from Bouchard Design Co.’s new lookbook
Q: Are you still active as a writer?
A: I’ve gotten to the point where I spend most of my week in the studio and meeting with boutique owners, buyers, and clients, which I love. However, I found that I really needed to get back into my writing because so much of it informs my design work. In April, I started writing a column called “Adornment Archives” for the Nashville-based online magazine Paper Saint (http://papersaint.com/) as a way to delve deeper in to the stories behind the objects and themes I work with in the studio.
Q: Where will Bouchard Design Co. be sold?
A: We are fortunate to work with over 30 independent boutiques across the country. We look forward to maintaining strong connections with them and expanding our reach as we travel to New York, Montreal, and Los Angeles over the next few months. We have some exciting design collaborations in the works with some national yoga brands. Our pieces tend to resonate with museumgoers, and we look forward to continued collaborations with the wonderful stores at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as expanding our presence in other museum shops. We will sell a selection of one-of-a-kind pieces on our website, boucharddesign.co.
Q: Litany had a strong commitment to supporting organizations that facilitate international education, work to ensure human rights. Will this continue to be the case with Bouchard Design Co.?
A: Yes, this will continue to be part of Bouchard Design Co.’s mission, and we look forward to partnering with local and international non-profit organizations to support their fundraising efforts.
Bouchard Design Co.’s rebrand and lookbook launch party will take place at Victory Home & Interiors in Linden Hills on July 23 from 4 to 8 p.m. with additional trunk shows taking place this Thursday, June 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Kisa Boutique’s downtown RBC Plaza skyway pop-up shop; July 30 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Kisa Boutique’s mini shop at Macho & Metro in Uptown; and August 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Meridian Boutique in Excelsior. View Bouchard Design Co.’s debut lookbook; follow Bouchard Design Co. on Facebook and Instagram for details on upcoming events; and shop Bouchard Design Co. online at boucharddesign.co.
Shoot credits: Photos by Lydia Jane, makeup by Melissa Gadacz from Bella on the Bay (Excelsior), model styling by Heidi Skoog, and models Lauren Asheim, Sabina Montinar, and Cara Wilson