For three years and counting, Lemoree has graced Jacksonville’s Art Walk with handcrafted earrings, vintage-inspired accessories, and hometown-representing jewelry.
In those three years, Lemoree creator Meredith Arceneaux has managed to transform the brand from a small side project to a business, and has gone from having only two cart-tables worth of items for her first Art Walk display to having one of the absolute must-see booths during the downtown event. But it took hard work for her to get this far.
Arceneaux’s jewelry making began as a hobby while she was obtaining her History degree at University of North Florida and working on the side. To her surprise, she quickly formed a small following after creating items for people here and there. Soon after, she decided to take a friend’s advice and set up a spot at Art Walk.
“It was free, why not?” Arceneaux recalled when thinking whether or not to go through with it. By the looks of her success, she should be glad she did. Since becoming a regular at the monthly downtown event, Lemoree’s fan-base has grown so large it has its own Facebook page, is sold on Etsy.com, and even has a section at Southern Crossing, an antique store on Park Street.
Though for Arceneaux, the success of Lemoree became a necessity. After getting laid off in February 2011, she decided to make the brand her primary source of income. While the designer said making it work at first was a struggle, and from time to time she does miss a steady paycheck, she is happy and grateful to be doing exactly what she loves.
And just like anyone striving for success, she gets by with a little help from her friends. To keep herself levelheaded and business-savvy, Arceneaux said she has those close to her help with Art Walk shows and the technicalities of owning her own brand – all for the price of free jewelry on the side, of course.
They’ve even come in handy for some of her biggest business questions – like what she was going to call her line in the first place. Back when it all began and Arceneaux was struggling to find the name that best represented her collection, her father suggested Lemoree, the name of her childhood imaginary friend. She said the eccentric name is a nod to her intrinsic creative side.
Although she has an undying amount of support from her loved ones, Arceneaux knows that in order to keep Lemoree afloat she has to stay competitive. Even though many other booths sell accessories at Art Walk, she said what keeps her brand unique is the mix between vintage and modern designs, and the originality behind them. She uses anything from buttons and resin to old maps and other vintage components for her creations. In addition, she said she is always trying her hand at different things, some of her favorite newer items to make are bowties.
But perhaps the most favorable pieces by the public are those that represent Jacksonville. Lemoree has creations that bare the name of either a Jacksonville neighborhood like Riverside, or the city’s name itself, made from cut out pieces of maps that are magnified on a pair of earrings, a ring, or a necklace.
But just because Lemoree shows its love for Jacksonville, it is not just limited to the city. Arceneaux has also featured her brand at various art shows in South Florida and plans to expand it, as well as some of her other art-like endeavors, in the future.
One of her ideas is to start a craft show in Jacksonville so she can show off more of her work with other like-minded creators. She welcomes the competition and believes anyone who is creative enough to start a brand of their own should never hold back.
“Plenty of times I’ve wanted to quit,” the designer said, “but my stubbornness has helped me keep going when others have thrown in the towel.”
Arceneaux said it’s important to never give up. After all, as far as Lemoree has come, it was all just a dream at one point too.
Get your own piece of Lemoree by visiting meredithgrace.etsy.com, or stopping by the booth next Art Walk.
article and photos by Melanie Pagan