Mom Muse | Sarah Jane Bourque
Jewelry designer Sarah Jane Bourque’s love of all things design began in her childhood. At the young age of 10, she spent many nights and weekends playing with the clothes in her closet, challenging herself to pull together as many different outfit combinations as she could dream up. She covered her closet walls with designer ads (think Ralph Lauren! Armani! Donna Karan!) from W Magazine and created three-ring binders of her favorite looks from magazines. We can picture it and totally relate…. we may or not have done the same thing. 😉
Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, Sarah Jane left the Midwest after high school to attend the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia. Next, she trained at the esteemed Woodbury School of Design in Los Angeles from where she graduated. After a stint in Paris to hone her design skills, Sarah Jane moved to New York City to design luxury handbags for fine jeweler, Barry Kieselstein-Cord. It was here that her creative eye was drawn to jewelry design.
Several years (and collections!) later, Sarah Jane moved to the Southwest and launched her own first jewelry collection under the brand name, Saint By Sarah Jane. A testament to her talent and beautiful designs inspired by nature, the line was picked up by luxury retailers, including Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
In 2004, Sarah Jane began a new chapter in her life when she married attorney Art Bourque. A few years later, being a mom became her number one priority when their daughter Lily (now 12) was born, soon followed by son Jack (11). After a decade focused on raising her kids, Sarah Jane created Seneca Jewelry. A highly-curated, sophisticated and modern approach to jewelry, the designs incorporate meaningful messages that resonate with women’s modern lifestyles. That said, Sarah Jane truly embodies her brand and is as warm and gracious as she is elegant and stylish. Just like her jewelry. (Which, by the way, would make an excellent Mother’s Day gift!)
MSL: Describe your style in five words or less.
Clean, sophisticated, upbeat, happy, and real.
MSL: What inspired you to become a jewelry designer?
My mother Lucy Lies. She built a small jewelry business from scratch. Watching her work on her pieces every night and hand deliver them to local boutiques — and eventually Saks Fifth Avenue — was impressive and motivating. My mother steered the path for where I am today.
MSL: How did you decide on the name Seneca Jewelry?
I named my collection Seneca after the famous Roman philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Seneca’s philosophy and wonderful quotes about life, happiness and responsibility really resonate with me.
MSL: What do you like best about your job? The biggest challenge?
I love the entire design process. There is no better feeling than the transformation of a design into a finished piece and witnessing a customer’s joy and satisfaction from something I created. It is the ultimate reward!
My biggest challenge is time. Family is my number one priority, so I am always focusing on structuring my days for maximum efficiency with work time and family time. I recently started meditating. I can’t believe what a difference it makes in my outlook and my ability to focus in on the tasks at hand.
MSL: How do you get inspiration for your designs?
I take a sketch book with me wherever I go. I constantly look at the way things are made, how they are put together, and what is their essence. The way I look at things today is so different than I did 10 years ago. I am inspired by “American Chic,” strong bold shapes, a great story and anything positive.
MSL: If you had to choose your favorite piece from the Seneca collection, which one would it be?
The Trenza Noble Grand Cuff. It’s bold, elegant and tailored to make a woman feel beautiful. I also love the 18K gold Sanguine Falling Heart Earrings because I always feel great in them, they are lightweight, and I love the artsy vibe they project.
MSL: The biggest moment of your career so far?
My design career has had several pivotal moments, but the biggest moment of my career was the year that my son Jack was born. After 10 years in luxury retailers, it was necessary to decide between taking my jewelry production overseas in order to scale the business for more competitive pricing with fellow designers — which in turn would mean spending a lot of time away from my family — or downsizing the business and being able to focus on my family. I chose to keep things in the United States and scale back the business. Most people probably think this is not a career highlight, but for me it was the most important decision that I ever had to make for my business and my family… and to this day I still feel like I made the right decision.
MSL: What’s the one item in your closet you can’t live without?
My wedding ring. I designed it myself and it’s totally me. After 15 years of marriage, I love it just as much as the day I got it.
MSL: Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to hear.
When I first went off to college, I thought I wanted to be a news broadcaster. I wanted to be the next Barbara Walters! Then, as my freshman year played out, I realized that I didn’t want to be a news broadcaster at all – my real love was design. I was just a girl from Kansas and at that time I had no idea how to become a fashion designer. I simply worked hard and found my way.
MSL: What’s your best style advice for other moms out there?
Be yourself. Invest in good jewelry and accessories that make you feel confident and comfortable. When you have great accessories, you can take most any piece of clothing or an outfit and transform it into what you need for the moment.