Behind the Design Series: FREE

Posted by Jane Paradis on

“There is a confidence that comes with freedom. Whether you need encouragement to take the steps to freedom, or have a newfound freedom you want to celebrate – the butterfly inspires us with her gentle movement and complete independence. You make your own choices, you are determined, you are free.”

I love it when women gravitate towards FREE because they just ‘get it’ right away. It’s not the pendant for everyone - you don’t like butterflies or you think ‘free’ is for hippies. LOL. That’s all ok. For some, FREE just clicks immediately and there is usually a story as to why. My story is different from each of theirs, different from yours - and that’s why I believe Jane Winchester is special. We LOVE the unique personalities, love the stories as to WHY, and love the individual ways people wear their pendants. Here’s a look into why I designed and love FREE. Please keep reading! Or SHOP FREE.

When I look back, I have lived an extremely free life. It’s crazy actually; my parents gave me immense freedom - they wanted me to go out there and figure it out on my own. I grew up in Augusta, GA in an old Victorian house. My parents came from New England, and bought the house for $30k (yes thirty-thousand-dollars) - there were holes in the floor and you could see through the walls. Together, they had a vision for the house. It was rebuilt in a very traditional-meets-bohemian way. Oriental rugs and a mahogany ‘dining room’...but above my bed a trippy Marimekko wall hanging of bright orange giraffes and floating stars.

The best part of the house was the giant center room that all rooms were adjacent to (both upstairs and downstairs); it must have been an 800 square foot center hallway. Upstairs was our playroom: my Dad had a swing, trapeze and 2 rings bolted to the ceiling, and my brother and I would swing to music and jump off into a pile of yellow bean bags. We had a small apartment in the back of the house that was originally for the ‘help’, but my parents rented it to artists from the local college. When they couldn’t pay rent, they painted our playroom like a circus - with bleachers filled with faces, clowns and a giant lion. Downstairs was the the formal center hall with high ceilings, very open with huge ficus trees and a piano. My mom would play the Police on the stereo, and I would roller skate around the hall. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.

Our house was filled with characters that allowed me to think being a true individual was normal. I went to Montessori School and we made things with our hands - I remember coming home in pre-k and sitting in the kitchen cutting carrots with a very sharp knife. My parents best friend John, who was a witty, eccentric, warm gay man, was terrified of me with a knife :). I remember walking home from school and hearing singing halfway down the block...the famous Opera singer Jesse Norman was in town and was over for dinner - she was singing in the front hall and it echoed down our little street.

As a kid I kind of knew we were an eclectic family, and I think it taught me what it felt like to be free. I could cut carrots. I could fly through the air on a trapeze. I could roller skate through the house. I could be surprised by live opera music on a Tuesday afternoon.

Unfortunately that all ended when I went to boarding school in 8th grade. I was officially ‘shipped off’ and flew from the tiny airport in Augusta GA to Logan Airport in Boston, picked up by my grandparents and dropped in front of my dorm at the Groton School. I guess the freedom of my childhood had earned me the trust to do this on my own, despite all the other kids having their parents there. For me Groton was - stifling. So of course I got in trouble, they buckled down on me, which stifled me more, I got in more trouble - vicious cycle. When I graduated from Groton I thought...FREE AT LAST.

My first marriage never felt like a lack of freedom, until it ended. While I didn’t see it coming, when I accepted that it was over I felt So. Much. Freedom. I did all the cliche recently-divorced in shape, had lots of parties, met cute boys! Freedom was FUN!

I am lucky. I have experienced very unique freedoms (aka circus) - and I’ve lived through more traditional freedoms - finally escaping boarding school, and the freedom of being single and confident at age 38. While I may have gone to some extremes, freedom is freedom. When you feel it, you have wings - you literally feel the confidence boost you up inside.

When mapping out the pendants for Jane Winchester I knew I had to have a butterfly, and I knew it was tied to freedom. At first I was determined for the butterfly charm to be influenced by block printing, so I started drawing in this hand. The drawings were great, but it wasn’t translating to the CAD work, so I started looking at antique charms and found a ‘ray’ texture for the background and layered a more traditional butterfly to sit on top. The rays behind the design symbolize that beaming feeling that freedom brings.

The amazing part is, people are truly drawn to the butterfly if they are experiencing a new found freedom. It’s really fun to think about the times you have felt true freedom, and to have a pendant to hold on to - to commemorate that moment of freedom. It’s honestly what Jane Winchester is all about.


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