Melissa Lamarre has never taken a jewellery-making class or had someone show her what to do. This is shocking, especially when you see exactly what this accessory designer is capable of. Her work is flawless – modern yet sophisticated, artistic yet wearable and made with the skill of a professional.
The New York-based, Haitian-born designer is completely self-taught in the art of making accessories since the age of 15. Obsessed with fashion, but unable to always keep up with the ever-changing clothing trends, she particularly enjoyed accessorizing her wardrobe for new and different styles with older items of clothing.
‘I always loved to visit craft stores,’ she says. ‘One day, I decided to buy some beads that I really liked to make some unique pieces for myself…’
Noticing how relaxed she became during the many hours that passed as she made her own accessories, coupled with the compliments and attention her work received from friends and family, she soon decided to make the transition from jewellery-making as a hobby to a full-blown business.
Being an independent accessories designer is by no means an easy task, especially with the abundance and variety of accessories available to the public on a daily basis. Along with finding the time and energy to tackle the many hats she is required to wear as both designer and business owner, the competition is always there to remind Melissa that her work ethic and customer satisfaction are what makes Bijoux Lamarre by Lamarre Creations stand out from the crowd.
‘I know how much effort goes into a piece by Bijoux Lamarre, from selecting quality materials to mixing ingredients for innovation. I know that if you can guarantee quality customer service and a quality product, then a loyal consumer base is sure to develop.’
The responsibilities are endless: from finding quality supplies to making new pieces, taking and editing photos in order to update both the website and social media pages as well as managing the online store and participating in fashion shows, no wonder every day’s To Do list is never bare, despite having a small team which includes both her mother and sister.
‘Another challenge is, of course, the funding. Starting a business independently is always difficult without a substantial initial investment, so I have put everything I have into this.’
And indeed, it shows. The pieces are clearly made with special care and attention, and with many of them being limited edition or one-off, there is no doubt a degree of pride that accompanies every completed item once sold. The bracelets and earrings from Bijoux Lamarre are duplicated based on material availability, but for the sake of ensuring that customers are satisfied in the knowledge that they will never see someone wearing something they own, most of the necklaces are limited edition. Custom pieces are encouraged and there is also a small customization fee (optional) that ensures that an item cannot be duplicated. Melissa is truly about customer satisfaction.
So, where does she find the inspiration and the materials to create these items?
‘I look for materials everywhere I can, from craft stores to the Internet… but I prefer independent wholesalers because I usually find beads that you wouldn’t see elsewhere. The products are inspired by many things in life, especially natural elements – for example, we use a lot of wooden beads and combine them with warm colours. I specifically look for textures, patterns and colours because they create striking pieces once combined.’
And where do the Haitian influences come in through her work?
‘I’m always captivated by the vibrant colours and the panoramic depictions of nature within Haitian art. We love bright colours, regardless of the season! There are also the different natural elements that we use such as the wood, shell, stone and hemp – they all echo the island spirit of Haiti.’
Of the Caribbean in general, Melissa notes the energy and the people, describing them as both ‘festive’ and ‘effervescent’.
‘I think that Caribbean style is very eclectic and mimics the diversity of the people, but I’d also like to see Caribbean fashion distinguished as a genre in its own right, especially in the U.S. The themes and trends we see in America are more European and Asian-influenced, but I would really like to see the Caribbean enter the mainstream as a dominant force!’
The brand aims to maintain the infusion of Afro-Caribbean roots into every collection, and has also evolved to incorporate haute-couture items and collections for both men and children.
The next full collection can be expected in August 2011.
Bijoux Lamarre pieces are currently available online via the Lamarre Creations store:
Visit the website:
You can also keep up with the brand via Facebook and Twitter:
Or contact Bijoux Lamarre at: