The concept of plant-based jewelry, created by Maryse Gilbert, still has a bright future ahead with this unique concept. From human resources director to jewelry designer, Maryse Gilbert has learned from her encounters and experiences to innovate with the help of living or stabilized plants. Discover her journey and the origin of her brand in this interview.
Secondnatur: Hello Maryse. Can you tell us about the beginnings of Bijou Végétal?
Maryse Gilbert-Guillon: My story with Bijou Végétal is also the story of a professional retraining. I was in charge of human resources for 15 years. I wanted to redirect myself without really knowing where to go. I had a friend who is the head of Radis & Capucine. For two or three years he wanted to develop jewellery with living plants. The first idea was to carry a pot of culture with you. He had the possibility to have a compost which drips not, which stain not clothes, and which greatly hydrates the plant. We’ve talked about it a lot. Then, we both stepped in the challenge, as well as another friend who has since moved away from the project, to create a jewel with a living plant inside. So I worked on this project. We created the website and a entire range for January 2015 because we participated in our first show. We had to fill our first 18 sq. m stand, and we did it!
S.N.: How did you come to work with stabilized plants?
M.G.G.: We had a very good implication from the show in terms of communication, we created the buzz. We were the exhibition stand to see. However, in terms of orders, it was not the same story. The matter of maintenance was a huge barrier for buyers. We had a period of wondering and that’s when I started to have an interest in stabilized plants. I already had a little bit of lichen in my collection but apart from that I knew nothing else. After a second exhibition in September 2015, we really widen the range of stabilised products. We saw the difference in terms of interest and purchases, we had many more orders.
S.N.: You are working with stabilized plants, but are you still creating with living ones?
M.G.G.: Absolutely because it remains the identity of Bijou Végétal. The two cross pretty well. Professionals like it stabilized for aesthetic reasons and ease of sale. They buy a lot more from us. But we still have nature lovers who buy as individuals jewelry with living plants.
S.N.: What do you say to your customers for the maintenance of your jewels?
M.G.G.: Our jewels are in a case accompanied with a small notice. For the stabilized ones, it is explained that it is necessary to avoid putting them in the sun but that it does not require any maintenance. For live plants, we offer a small pipette and a bag of stabilized lichen so that the customer can replace the plant when it is dead. It is also offered to replace the living plant free of charge if they wish so. All this in order to reassure because we realize that stabilized plants are still not well known. There are many amalgams between stabilized and artificial.
S.N.: You use stabilized roses for some of your jewelry. How goes their handling and their work?
M.G.G.: I buy the S model of stabilized roses. At the beginning, I could not work the rose in certain supports and in particular the earring for which the cavity of the jewel is very small. With a lot of perseverance, I managed to rework the rose, petal by petal, so that there was a reconstitution of mini rose inside the cavity of the jewel. It’s a real know-how. It’s a lot of thoroughness, a lot of patience and work. It is impossible to industrialize our work, each jewel is unique and made in our workshops in Angers. We’re pretty much Made In France actually (laughs).
S.N.: What are your sources of inspiration?
M.G.G.: I get a lot of inspiration from the fashion world, I really follow what is happening. I also started working with a haute couture stylist to have a more fashionable and trendy eye. I am also very interested in florists’ work, floral art and Kokedama. I met Adrien Bénard who inspires me a lot.
S.N.: What mainly marks Bijou Végétal’s journey?
M.G.G: This conversion created many encounters. The first one with my friend from Radis & Capucine, it was him who allowed me to have a freedom in creativity. I also went to SecondFlor, I talked a lot with Mikaël Nicolas. These are encounters that mark my journey. The encounters are essential for me and are part of the Bijou Végétal course.
Website / / / http://www.bijou-vegetal.com/