Jen began crafting leather bags years ago, painstakingly hand-cutting and hand-lacing each piece of leather on her own. The journey from hobby to business was an organic one for Jen - after constantly getting stopped on the street to be asked “where’d you get that bag?”, she realized she had a viable business on her hands.
During these initial development stages, Lori acted as Jen’s mentor and cheerleader. They were neighbors, great friends and even their sons were bff! Lori continually encouraged Jen to push her vision further and acted as her “eyes”, reviewing samples and helping to merchandise trunk shows for her bags. As Jen says “Lori is aware of presentation and truly wants everything to be an experience…she’s better than Martha Stewart.”
After asking Lori twice to become her business partner - and getting rejected! - Jen finally persuaded her friend to take the leap into a business partnership after Nordstrom came calling asking if JGEREN was in production.
The pair are a dynamic force of opposites. With her interest in raw materials and creative passion, Jen is the embodiment of the inspired, free-spirited artist. She’s got a total downtown, rock-and-roll vibe with her long, perfectly messy brown hair and hand-sewn dresses. Lori, on the other hand, looks like she just stepped off a Park Avenue sidewalk, all perfectly coifed silver bob, thick black frame glasses and expertly tailored trousers.
It’s a partnership that works seamlessly: while Jen drives the creative vision of JGEREN, constantly creating new styles and concepts, Lori brings 20+ years of fashion industry and business experience to the company with an “unwavering integrity for the final product”.
While they may have their own separate strengths, they always approach the line as a collaboration. They visit the tannery and decide on the leather thickness, sheen and texture together and when Lori has an idea for a product, Jen will go to the table to create a sample. In fact, Jen says that they are “almost telepathic with one another,” and will often have almost identical designs in mind for a new product without realizing it.
Both women are also mothers and wives and hold these roles as dear as their entrepreneurial undertaking. “Juggling motherhood, being a wife and building an empire is hard work! And to look good doing it too?” Jen says with a laugh, “I’m loving every minute of it!”
And she means it. “Loving every minute of it” is the guiding principle upon which the pair founded their business. Jen is adamant: “You have to LOVE what you do…if you don’t truly love all your roles, then the ones you don’t love will suffer.” This positive, enthusiastic outlook keeps Jen and Lori from letting life pass them by and to not take everything so seriously - an approach that is obviously working in their favor.
The duo opened a studio and appointment-only showroom in the city’s hip Lincoln Park neighborhood (within walking distance to their homes, natch) back in 2014 and are constantly working to diversify and solidify the JGEREN brand. Recently, the pair was nominated for a second Rising Star Award (they won the honor in 2014!) for their effortlessly classic, sexy and unique range. A well-deserved recognition - we can’t wait to see where they take JGEREN next!
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