Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Liberty Interview: Jane Hall The Voice of Style









































Hello! Good Day! How are you? Before I give you this intriguing, interesting and inspiring interview, I wanted to comment on my very first meeting with Jane. (Do you remember this post?) I was in The Beaches (Shameless PLUG here: a large portion of my novel is set in The Beaches and Queen St. E.!!!) in Toronto, enjoying a lovely walk through all the shops, when I happened upon a storefront with the most colourful, magnetic and 'alive' display I had seen in years. (yes window display/retail is still relevant!) I wondered 'who' could be behind such a creative vignette and the door pulled me in. One step through the entrance and I knew I had discovered a Design Star. Another thing that struck me was the fact that Jane was there and she welcomed me with a friendly smile, but she allowed me to take it all in - embrace the stories within the brick walls - I felt as though I could breathe; 'inhale' the colourways and 'taste' the accessories, wall art and furniture. Imagine my thoughts at that moment: 'I want to take photos for my blog, how will this owner react?, will I get kicked out the door?, should I sneak a shot?, will I offend her....but do you know what? I decided to take the high road and I just asked Jane. "Do you mind if I take some photos?". And this is Jane in a nutshell: open, authentic, trusting, confident and proud to share her vision, talent and designs. She said 'Yes of course'. All I can say is, 'Love at first sight, New friend for life.' (insert: Bloggers immediately love this type of business owner - nothing to hide, everything to share, share share!) Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you The Liberty Interview: Jane Hall The Voice of Style (A really famous Canadian)



Liberty Post (LP):
Give us your best ‘elevator speech’ – tell us about yourself and your business in 20 words or less.
Jane Hall (JH):
I am a multimedia designer whose current focus is in the area of interior design. I have developed a national reputation for my groundbreaking use of colour. I own a retail store in the Beaches area of Toronto that features product that is designed and manufactured by local artisans.
( sorry readers I could not get it into twenty words!!!)
LP:
O.K. Now, let’s get real here. Tell us about yourself and your business in as many words as you want.
JH:
I am self professed colour junkie, an idea person and slightly obsessive when it comes to my work. Over 30 years, I have developed a style that is uniquely Jane Hall. I have a gift of being able to mix pattern and colour in ways that are totally unexpected. In North America most designers mix a couple of neutral fabrics with a beige or gray wall, and pronounce it done. I have a store filled with beautiful objects that are all what I call manifestations of an idea. What has been truly amazing to me about this environment I have created is how it has stirred people to react to express their emotions so openly. I have had many people who have welled up in tears, thrown up their arms in joy, and asked if they could move in. I asked one woman who had cried, as she was a documentary film maker, if she could express in words what it was that made her feel that way. She said in here you could “imagine the possibilities”, dreams could become realities. There is something about this place that touches people’s hearts and I try to recreate that in their homes. Many people move into their homes with the boxes but not emotionally and I help them take emotional possession of their homes. This is a business that understands people’s stories and uses beauty as a way to bring something positive into their lives.

LP:
What is your background?
JH:
I started my first business 4 months after graduating from university and had my first child at the ripe old age of 23. I had taken a course in batik while in high school and maintained an interest in it so I decided to start making clothing and selling it at craft shows. Two years later, twins unexpectedly came along and pretty soon I was a single mom with 3 kids to support so I needed to progress to the next level to support them. I designed and manufactured a jewellery and accessory line that grew to 30 employees and sold to 1600 stores in the United States and Canada, including Victoria Secrets, Bowring’s and the Bay. After a decade of this I suffered my first crash and burn and my first reinvention of myself. I moved from being a designer manufacturer to a freelance designer. I went to the US and designed a line of fabric for Kravet, wallpaper for imperial Wallcoverings, dinnerware for Mikasa under license. I did packaging and illustration work for Nestle, Laura Secord, Second Cup and Michelle's Baguette and a I picked up a paint brush and became a fine artist. I have sold over 200 paintings that are in collections around the world. The new millennium saw another reinvention as people starting asking me to help them with designing their spaces as I had been painting flloorcloths, and creating fabric hand-painted chairs and furniture. With my signature use of colour and unique range of custom made product, knowledge of fabrics, home furnishings, and manufacturing I had the perfect recipe for a retail store. I co-branded with Pittsburgh paints to open Jane Hall the Voice of Colour, a concept I developed selling and merchandising product in 6 colour groups, each representing different emotions. The store was nominated, and beat out 70 other entries, to win the coveted Cadillac Fairview ARC award for being the most unique retail concept concept in Canada. The store was featured in the media over a hundred times. I became the national spokesperson for PPG and did many public speaking appearances on the the subject of colour. A serious car accident, a subsequent fall and a broken leg, requiring months of bed rest, gave me the opportunity to reflect and to renew myself. Like a phoenix rising again, I gave birth to a new idea for a retail venture combining all of the things I l loved about design. And so, as a result of a series of mishaps and misadventures, I moved into my third decade in business and opened Jane Hall, The Voice of Style. No one can say what the future holds, but right now, I know I am exactly where I am meant be and I'm loving every minute of it!
LP:
What was your very first job?
JH:
Technically, I was the arts and crafts counselor at an all girls camp when I was 17. Other than summer jobs, I have never had a "real job". I have never written a resume, had a boss, or received a regular pay check!
LP:
What is a typical day like for Jane Hall?
JH:
I literally drag myself out of bed with the help of two alarm clocks, decide how I want to present myself to the world that day and dash off to open the store at 11. I visit Tim at the Pie Shack across the street to get my one and only coffee in a thermal mug so it stays hot for hours. Every day at the store is unique. You never know who is going to come through the door, and what conversations you will strike up. The store seems to bring out the the best in people. Some days are spent creating people's dream rooms, and I go through the bins of fabrics and fabric books, paint chips, and rug samples suppliers catologues for furniture ideas. I like to photograph all the elements and go through the 50,000 pictures I have taken to put together an album of inspiration for the client as a picture is worth a thousand words. Other days I put my project management hat on a schedule the ordering of materials and the delivery to workrooms so the items can be made to clients' specifications. I close the doors when things are done and evenings are devoted to writing my newsletters, reading 3 books at a time on various subjects, editing and working on my photography and lately learning everything I can about, cookies, meta-tags, back links, blogging, twittering, affiliated marketing, and anything else I can find on social marketing. Bedtime never comes before 3 no matter how hard I try!
LP:
What do you eat for lunch?
JH:
What's lunch?
LP:
What are your feelings about The Arts?
JH:
That they are going to become increasingly important to our economy. As left brain skills are being shipped off shore to India, China and computers take over ever more of these tasks, our economy will have to adapt. We have gone from the agricultural economy to the manufacturing economy, to the service economy and now we are moving to the experience and idea economy. Our education system is going to need to start encouraging and nurturing creative and outside-the-box thinking. Do we need any more accountants, bankers, lawyers and daresay, hedge fund managers and traders?
LP:
Tell us about your education.
JH:
I studied fine art and social anthropology at university. At that time, I had plans to become an anthropologist. I did studio work in drawing and printmaking, but never took a course in anything that I am doing now. I actually think that is an advantage as it gave me the freedom to experiment and develop my own style. There was no one of authority to tell me that what I was doing wasn't right. I once had a coop student work for me who had marks deducted from her assignment for using lime green in a child's room, as her teacher felt the colour was too bright. If I had been told that, where would I have ended up?
LP:
Coffee or Tea?
JH:
One coffee in the morning and one tea at night. Any more then that and I may never sleep!!!!
LP:
What is your favorite food group?
JH:
What's Food??? I am a Gemini with 8 planets in air and fire...we forget we have bodies.
LP:
What is your favorite colour?
JH:
Spring green, as it reminds me of the first days in May. Overnight the trees burst with new growth and that particular shade of yellow green is so fresh to me, signifies renewal and awakening after a long drab, gray Canadian winter.
LP:
What wall colour do you use the most?
JH:
Almost every house I do has some shade of green, because to me it is the true neutral, the colour of nature.
LP:
Why Queen St. in The Beaches?
JH:
I love the feeling that you are living in a small community while having access to a large cosmopolitan city. The people who live in this community are very connected to it, are interesting, well traveled and creative and I love the architecture. Every home I go into is completely different. I have lived and worked in almost every neighborhood in downtown Toronto, and when I moved down here, for the first time, I felt I was home. I don't think I will ever want to live anywhere else. ( except of course a flat in London, a Paris apartment, a villa in Venice)
LP:
How has the Internet impacted your work?
JH:
Its connected me to a community of like minded thinkers and given me a platform to share my message of how colour can change how you feel in your home. My next step is to start my own blog and start a colour revolution in North America. It has also gone the other way and allowed people to see what my store and my services can provide. People say they love my site, and could spend hours looking at it. It has also allowed me to see what is going on in design in areas of the world that I wouldn't have access to.
LP:
Who are your favorite designers?
JH:
In interior design I love Jamie Drake… Like me he loves dramatic colour and uses different styles and periods… antique with modern
In the 50’s and 60’s David Hicks was a wild and crazy guy and he also married into the British Royalty and decorated for them. He also did all of Helena Rubinstein's stores and homes. He loved dramatic colour and invented the idea of the “tablescape”.
I am inspired by Coco Chanel’s ability to design iconic fashion elements. She invented the modern woman, by taking jersey fabric used to make men’s military underwear and inventing the first line of sportswear and she was the first woman to wear pants!
LP:
What products do you sell and what services do you offer?
JH:
The store has a full range of custom made products designed by me and made by my elves. Almost everything, besides my art and photography, is made from fabrics featuring European designers Tricia Guild, Pierre Frey, Clarke and Clarke and Canadian companies Robert Allen, J Innis, Avant Garde, Maxwell, Suzanne Brown, and Andaru. There are custom made lampshades, cushions, drapes, “Janified" vintage and antique furniture, 3 lines of Canadian furniture, area rugs from Rug Studio and my signature painted chairs. I also offer a full range of interior design services including colour consultations, advice on renovation projects and painting services. It's one stop shopping. With 30 +years of experience in design I am the ultimate IN KNOWING WHERE TO FIND ANYTHING AT THE RIGHT PRICE. In short, I am a professional shopper and can do it more efficiently then anyone else.
LP:
Please share a travel story with us:
JH:
This year I visited my brother who recently moved to London, England. He lives in Belgravia, in the heart of the city. January in London can be pretty damp and dull, but I didn't care. Everyday, I grabbed my camera and took a bus to an area that I wanted to see and walked home. I had a chance to be inspired by the most exciting, quirky, cutting edge designs AND see all the greatest antique stores, featuring mid-century design, art deco, and the most amazing lighting I've ever seen. I was allowed amazing access in these places and the result was a collection of albums I have put together and featured in my first newsletter called "The Spoils Of Europe" , which can be viewed on my website. My style and my store are very reminiscent of the shops of London and Paris, and I hope to make this an annual pilgrimage.
LP:
Why is design important in our lives?
JH:
When you stop and think of it, an idea, or design is behind everything we see in the world so it would follow that if some real thought went into the design process the world would be a more beautiful place to live in. In our homes it is our sanctuary, and our refuge from the world, a place to decompress from the stress of the crazy world we live in. Over and over, I hear from clients how their homes feel better with colour and design, and many times I have people become so overcome with emotion in the store that they have cried. That is the effect that colour and beauty can have on one's emotions.
LP:
What room should be decorated first in a home?
JH:
The room you spend the most time in is the first place you should start. I also think the bedroom which is the most private space is the one that is the most ignored. I personally love decorating bedrooms as they are romantic, and the perfect place to use lots and lots of fabulous fabric!
LP:
What inspires you?
JH:
Everything I see, learn, touch, hear, inspires me. Creativity to me is a multi-dimensional thing. Many people talk to me about it in the store. They comment on my talent and giftedness and wonder where I get my inspiration. Well, I am forever curious and EVERYTHING fascinates me. Politics, history, the new media, neuroscience, economics, astrology, art, history, photography, fashion...I am a sponge who soaks it up. It is hard for me to stop at night and turn my brain off !!!!
LP:
How do you stay current?
JH:
To be honest I don’t look at anything that comes out of North America. I follow what is going on in Europe. This year I travelled to London and Paris and spent five weeks with my camera and my walking boots going to all the best design stores to see what was being shown. What you see in Europe is leading edge and you will eventually see a watered down version on this continent. I also keep in touch with what is going on culturally by being aware of what’s going on in the rest of the world.
LP:
What advice would you give someone thinking about opening up
a retail location?
JH:
In this world of globalization where most merchandise is manufactured in unregulated factories, consumers are looking for authenticity and an experience that feels real and special. Products that are unique tell a story that will ring true for the consumer today. What will keep them coming back is service, fresh new ideas and an experience that touches them on an emotional level.
LP:
What are you planning for the future?
JH:
I have been writing about my philosophy on design and the use of colour in design for the last six months and I have used this to launch my newsletters, and will be creating my own blog. I intend to use it as a platform to start a colour revolution and empower people to rebel, to be nonconformists, to embrace the use colour. Colour properly used will not decrease the value of your house, be too much, or frighten your friends and neighbours. What it will do is make you feel better about doing what you want in your home, not what the magazines tell you is the latest trend.
LP:
What would you be if you weren’t a designer?
JH:
I would probably have been a social anthropologist or therapist, even a historian; something that would engage the very curious part of me that is interested in understanding culture, and psychology, but not in a clinical way. I have an incredibly curious mind that wants to know about a lot of things.
LP:
How would you describe your work?
JH:
My play. I am one of the really lucky ones. I get to do what I am totally committed to and passionate about every day. I do it from the time I get out of bed 'till the time my head hits the pillow. Everything I do and learn in a day funnels into what I create.
LP:
How would you describe your fashion sense?
JH:
I have loved clothes since I could dress myself! I always wear colour because black can drain all the colour from a woman’s face and age her. I have a very feminine style and I love textures, velvets, silks, lots of detailing and interesting cuts, high boots, and ankle boots (but always with a high heel!). I adore great accessories and separates so I can create multiple combinations. I have a collection of vintage winter coats, an orange fur swing coat with a huge fluffy orange fur collar and trim and from the “Room” late 50’s, a 40's lamb's wool coat with embroidered satin lining found at an antique market, and a purple swing coat, which is VERY Joan Crawford and even has a muff! I love getting up every day and trying a new combination. There isn’t a day that I go out that someone doesn’t comment on how I am dressed. The same fashion principles apply to interiors… its all about colour, form and details.
LP:
What camera and lens do you use?
JH:
I traded up to a Canon Rebel XTI last year that came with lenses. It has 12 mega pixels and it has been a amazing camera for me. I couldn’t believe the difference between a point and shoot and an SLR!
LP:
Any photography secrets or tips to share?
JH:
I think the secret to taking a good photograph is composition. It’s all about how you look at what you are photographing. Get on the floor, get in close, take a look at it from the side or above. Try it at 4.5, 11, 22 aperture to get soft focus in the background, or put everything in total focus. Take thousands of pictures because by doing so, you will learn. Also using a tripod can make an amazing difference. I didn’t realise how shaky my hand was until I saw what my photos looked like after using a tripod.
LP:
Tell us about your furniture line?
JH:
About a year ago a wonderful woman ( turns out she is a writer) came into the store and suggested I look at a website of a store she had seen in England called Sprint (www.sprintfurniture.com). I checked it out and was immediately familiar with the fabric I saw being used in the quilted chairs, ottomans, and couches. It was Tricia Guild fabric, my favourite line. I had bins of it my studio and was crafting lampshades, cushions, and one of a kind bags from it already, so taking it one step further and putting it on furniture was a natural. I had been turning furniture into an art form with my painted chairs for over a decade, so it was a no brainier. One of my gifts has been my ability to mix pattern and colour. I had been the national spokesperson for a North American paint company, and designed a fabric collection for Kravet fabrics and a wallpaper collection for Imperial Wallcoverings. The secret to designing collections is understanding how to use patterns in groupings based on scale, elements in the fabrics that tie them together, and colour principles that make the fabrics sing when paired together. It's when the sum becomes better then the total of the parts. The Europeans are great at taking what is old and reinventing and making it new. Here we are slaves to modernism, consumerism, price and and the latest trends, so antiques are being discarded as irrelevant. New furniture is often made from press board and staples that in a few short years, will end up as land fill. The furniture in my store is totally unique, as it is made from clients' family treasures of the past, or pieces I have found at one of my favourite haunts. It is green, as it is” re-purposed", and it is FUN. It doesn’t take itself so seriously. On average, a re-purposed chair has 5-6 different fabrics on it, and in some cases, the pieces have been quilted together. I have never sold furniture that has done as well as this. In England, at Squint or Tricia Guild, similar pieces would sell for 3 times the amount of money I charge.
LP:
In your wildest dreams, who would you invite to a dinner party and why?
JH:
There are so many minds that have changed the course of history that I would love to have an evening of conversation with:
Malcolm Gladwell - His ideas help to unravel the mystery of why some people become successful and others don’t, and really make you think
Sir Kenneth Robinson - inspiring educators to change rethink creativity in education is the key to our future
Jamie Drake - his dramatic use of colour and ability to mix periods and styles
Cecil Beaton - flamboyant, multi-layered talent, photographer, costume and stage designer, bon vivante
Coco Chanel - liberated the modern woman, invented herself, style icon, bold, liberated
Carl Jung - inventor of modern psychology and the notion of the collective consciousness
Dorothy Draper - first female star interior decorator who was about being bold, fun, colourful, independent
Seth Godin - one of the best business blogs in the worlds. I read his blog every day and can write a sentence like no one else. He is showing me how to navigate this new age of social marketing
Thank You
And Jane, THANK YOU!!!
Please drop by Jane's website and shop soon!
Jane Hall The Voice Of Style
2156 Queen St East
Toronto M4E1E4
416-691-8080
Hours Tuesday Friday 11-6
Saturday 10-6
Sunday 12-6
www.janehalldesign.com


WATCH JANE LIVE!!!






































TheStreet.com 300x250 Best Seller Giveaway

4 comments:

Jan said...

Fantastic interview Patti !
I'm completely blown away.

sinnlighet said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh - i love love love this lovely RR-blog!

Agneta, the swedish one o;)

Jane Hall The Voice of Style said...

Thanks Patti for the honor of being featured on your amazing blog. Like you I feel we are kindred spirits. Like me you have no fear and tell it like it is!!!! I love when someone is comfortable enough in their own skin to think outside the box. You Rock!!!!

Judit Gueth said...

Great interview!