Jeniece Blanchet’s JÉBLANC Label Makes Artful Jewelry for Fierce, Independent Women
Jeniece Blanchet isn’t just selling jewelry. With her JÉBLANC line she’s handmaking mini pieces of art and each component is carefully considered.
She researches different cultures and sources her crystals from a vendor who gets them from Africa. She then meditates and gets to work, making each piece by hand and reinterpreting her various influences in a modern, JÉBLANC way. Blanchet mixes metals, wrapping hoops in wire and accentuating them with beads and crystals.
“I make everything by hand. I do it all myself,” says Blanchet. “Because of that, people have a different experience wearing them. They treat it like an antique piece.”
Blanchet is from Atlanta and got her start reconstructing clothes and selling them to friends and working in retail. She moved to Los Angeles five years ago, assisted a multimedia artist for three years, styled on the side, and then broke out on her own.
For our Women’s History Month spotlight, she created an exclusive capsule for Complex SHOP. We also spoke with her about how she gets her products on celebrities, what influences her creations, and what she wants to do next.
What is your background in fashion? Did you study it?
I never studied fashion. I think that it was just something that was calling me at a younger age, because I've always just really admired luxurious things, but I was never able to afford them. And my mom was a seamstress, so I already had the idea in my heart that I can make anything that I need to make out of nothing. So when you have nothing, you have options for everything. So I used to plaster magazines and editorials all over my walls in my room, so that I would wake up inspired. And if I saw something that I wasn't able to afford, I would literally just recreate it. And then I realized like, because I couldn't really afford schooling as much, I just worked for a lot of different boutiques in Atlanta.
So most of your professional fashion background is in retail?
Yes. I would go out of my comfort zone and apply to stores where I couldn’t afford to shop. But I just knew that with the right vocabulary, you can get any job that you want. And I started to make clients and then only do styling work. And then after my styling work, I just started to make my own clothes and sell those.
How did you get into jewelry?
I was always reconstructing clothing in Atlanta and selling it to my friends. When I started designing full time, I started with a dress and some chains that read “The Future Of Fashion Is Humility.” I wanted people to worry about style more than the brand. So the fashion just evolved into jewelry. I just knew that with jewelry I had to learn how to work with my hands so that when I'm able to focus more on clothing, I’ll be trained enough to work with my hands and teach people my preferred way of doing things.
How did you develop your aesthetic or signature when it comes to jewelry?
I think it was all about isolating myself and figuring out what I truly like without Instagram's inspiration, without anything. I would literally go to bookstores. I would sit with myself and I realized that I liked this futuristic feel. I like this look of mirrored glass. So I started to use silver a lot and I got inspired. I remember I was searching for a shoe and I ran across a motorcycle manufacturer and they had these silver parts, just laying on the ground and I was immediately inspired by the way the sun reflected off of those parts. I just truly wanted things to look futuristic and luxurious, especially with the crystals. I started to connect with crystals and glass. And I've always just wanted to be surrounded by nice glassware. At a young age, my grandmothers would teach me that having nice dishes in your house is more important than buying a nice handbag. It’s just like catering to your guest and making every little detail so luxurious even if it's something as simple as getting a nice fruit dish.
And you make it all by hand?
All by hand. I do it all by myself. I started with the tools. And then I'm like, “what do these tools do?” And then I started researching these tools and then I got into wiring. And then I'm like, "What is something that I would wear?" I kind of base everything off of my heart. And I'm like, “I really want to do hoops because everyone loves a good hoop.” And I remember when AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) wore hoops and red lipstick, and I thought that was so profound because hoops used to be looked at a certain way, and it’s completely not like that anymore. I started to play with everything, and then I started looking for a crystal guy. He is from Africa and he gets his crystals shipped here. I just want to make sure it's all on the same frequency as me. So I'm very particular and I just do my research. When you learn something, you're looking for one thing, another idea will pop up. And then from that idea, maybe three more ideas would pop up.
What’s your process?
I start with the feeling that I feel while I’m making them. I usually meditate before I make my pieces and then I start to make them by hand. It’s not fast fashion, and because of that people have a different experience wearing them. They treat it like an antique piece. I get my inspiration from all over. When it comes to my beads, I like Millefiori beads or glass beads. They're hand-blown. Millefiori means a thousand flowers and they have like baby painted flowers on the glass beads. I know that back in the ‘70s, my grandmother went to Italy and she brought some beads back. But that influenced me to look into different beads, and then I started to modernize that and put them on a chain you can wear on your handbag, or on your waist, or as a necklace. So I pull from all types of cultures. I don’t want to copy them, I just want to modernize and reinterpret how they are used.
I see Chloe and Halle just wore some of your earrings for the “Ungodly Hour” video. How does that feel?
I was literally shocked. I mean, it's a crazy feeling because you send them packages like months before. And you never know what’s going to happen. I make everything by hand so it’s a lot of hard work. So when these things do happen, you feel very deserving of it. I was actually watching that video with my friends and in my heart, I'm like, “I have a feeling they wore my earrings.” Manifestation is the realest thing on this earth, but they did. And I was so shocked, and she looked so beautiful. And it's just amazing.
A lot of young designers might want to know how you get your pieces on celebrities. Is it all through IG?
When I first started, I remember I would wear my pieces everywhere I went. So people would stop me and be like, "Where'd you get that?" But one of my big breaks was when I met a stylist named AmiraaVee, and she remembered me and pulled some of my pieces for Hennesy, Cardi B’s sister, to wear on the red carpet at the VMAs. Offset posted a video of her chains and that brought me a lot of attention. And then for me being a stylist, I know more stylists than influencers, so I would literally just be like, "If you like this, I'm going to send you a piece because I respect your hustle." Being a stylist looks really easy, but it's actually one of the hardest jobs in the field to me because you have to create the vibe and you have to create the person's style. It’s hard. I fight for the women who are working really hard and I respect women to the highest level. So things just started to spread by word of mouth. And the energy you put out, you get back.
What’s next for you?
I see myself doing so many different things. I see myself selling my pieces to stores. But I also see myself in an atelier type of place where I make custom pieces for editorials or clients. And then I also see myself working under a very prestigious brand. I don't ever think that anyone is too good to work under someone. I wish that I could work under Paco Rabanne one day and just learn everything from them. I'm doing my research now so that when that time is near, I'll be 100 percent ready. You have to stay ready so you never have to get ready.
The JÉBLANC capsule for the Women’s History Month Collection is currently sold out.