While working as an industrial engineer, Jean Lorent Makin created leather fashion accessories as a hobby. Now, her designs can be purchased at more than 30 shops across the country, including six in the New Orleans area, as well as through her website.
Makin is the owner of Jean Lorent (www.jeanlorent.com), a local company that makes men's leather bowties and suspenders and women's handbags. Each item is made from premium full grain leather with a rich patina, from materials found within the U.S. The products are designed and handcrafted by Makin in her studio on Old Gentilly Road in New Orleans East.
A native of Venezuela, Makin launched her business by selling her crafts online and at festivals under the company's original name, NOLA Leather. Makin felt sales were doing well and she set her sights on a new, expanded venture.
"I decided that I wanted to take it to the next level," she says of placing her merchandise in boutiques nationwide. She also rebranded her company, changing the name to Jean Lorent.
Jean Lorent's men's collection includes sus- penders and bow ties in an array of colors and materials — from cognac crocodile to gray snakeskin. Prices start at $70. The company offers styling for grooms and provides exclusive accoutrements for entire wedding parties.
"Our leather bow ties and leather suspenders are very popular among the grooms," Makin says.
The spring women's handbag collection features a shimmery, silver "gator leather" clutch made from cowhide ($157), and an understated, black leather crossbody purse for everyday with a detachable chain ($182).
Jean Lorent's next handbag collection debuts this fall.