Portland native Jayne Dearborn has created a silver lining for herself. The founder of JayneMax, a luxury line of handbags that feature a highly personal butterfly lining dubbed "Max's butterfly" is emblematic of both her own tragic loss and a guarded optimism for the future of women.
After losing her seven year old son, Max, to Leukemia, Dearborn channeled her creativity, collected a hand-drawn butterfly originally drawn by Max, and pursued a thorough international search for the best leather manufacturers around the world.
A representative JayneMax line was soon selected for a juried Accessory Circuit design show at renowned international trade show, ENK International. Adding clout to the line, JayneMax soon earned a notable presence on national television; designs were featured on ABC's hit show, "Ugly Betty" and Better TV.
Aside from the line's marked success, Dearborn has instilled a value of paying it forward to children with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, donating ten percent from every bag sold that goes to the Blue Butterfly Campaign.
Dearborn shares her production process-- from the early days to what's coming for 2013 and beyond.
Alex Gamez: What does JayneMax seek to do for women?
Jayne Dearborn: We are a handbag company with a mission to make soulfully luxurious handbags that bring women joy by making them feel empowered and beautiful.
A.G: How was the design process from the beginning? How did you find your leathers?
J.D: In the beginning, I personally created all of my bags, from design to finished product, in Max's bedroom. I did an exhaustive search around the world to find the best manufacturer that delivers a top of the line product. Today, I collaborate with other designers; I have a trend inspiration for the season, and I'm intricately involved with selecting the leathers, hardware, and color palette. I travel to Italy and Hong Kong to see what leathers and colors are trending. JayneMax leathers are sourced from Brazil and Italy.
A.G: Are JayneMax bags produced on a seasonal schedule or semiannual?
J.D: We create new collections based on fall/winter, spring/summer, and holiday seasons.
A.G: You mentioned you collaborate with other designers. How much input do you give before each design is set to manufacture?
J.D: I design some of the bags and work with designers to collaborate on other styles. I make sure that I love all aspects of each design before we decide to move forward with them and put them into production.
A.G: Are there any shops you'd like to sell in, or have recently partnered with?
J.D: We are always looking for new boutiques and larger speciality chain stores. We would like to grow our presence here in Portland, in our own backyard. Major department stores are on our wish list and we are going to pursue that for fall.
A.G: Have you given any thought to expanding your brand to other accessories (jewelry, shoes, scarves)?
J.D: At this point, we want to stay focused on the handbag world. We are starting to introduce wallets and iPad cases.
A.G: What do you have planned next for JayneMax?
J.D: We're excited to present fall 2013-- our best line yet. We are also launching a kickstarter video first week of March to help raise funds for fall production.
JayneMax's website can be found here, as well as a list of sixty some shops nationwide that carry the line. Shoppers who can't wait to get their hands on the luxe leather can purchase online.