If you need reassurance that what’s meant to be will always be, Lily Monboquette and her mother Jenny can help. As a five-year-old, Lily told Jenny that they would work together someday in a design business. A couple of decades and an eponymous jewelry brand later, that premonition came true in a big way for this magnetic mother-daughter duo.
In 2017, Jenny was thriving in a jewelry design course she took on as a hobby, and Lily was working in menswear. Through phone conversations on Lily's walks home, they agreed there was an untapped concept they had the creativity and ambition to bring to life. (Fun)ctional jewelry that’s interactive, statement making, and more than meets the eye.
Jenny’s penchant for reversibility in clothing and swimsuits and getting more for less combined with the two-in-one designs, versatility, and hidden surprises that Lily saw in menswear set them on a mission to bring those elements into the jewelry space.
“We started talking about how we could take that menswear concept and bring it into our jewelry,” shared Lily, “so we started with a series of earrings, and that expanded and transformed to the whole idea of two-in-one but with jewelry, which we thought hadn’t been done before.”
Pulling inspiration from everyday objects like sailing cleats, pita bread wedges, suitcases, books, and more, Monbouquette transfers the magic of the mundane into playful pieces that go from minimal to mesmerizing with just a touch.
“Everything is inspired by the everyday or even a more traditional piece of jewelry, but with our different twist,” Lily explained. “Our lockets aren’t a traditional locket, we call them Mantra Lockets and you can put a little love note inside instead of a picture, things like that.”
Early on, the ladies Monbouquette were granted a patent for the inventive functionality of their designs. Every piece is designed to be fidgeted with, and to provide a fun source of wearable entertainment and the joy of playing.
The designs also introduce colors into wardrobes that empower wearers to turn vibrancy into the new neutrals that can be worn every day, with anything. Working with palettes pulled from the repertoires of artists like Josef Albers, Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, and Ellsworth Kelly, Monbouquette’s designs enable entirely new lifelines for existing masterpieces.
When they meet with editors, Jenny and Lily put together a mood board with the reference pieces that they use, placed next to a sketch of the jewelry or the finished product to explain where they’re coming from and contextualize the rich history of their inspiration.
When it comes to the inventive genius behind these designs, the mother-daughter dynamic plays a pivotal role. People are constantly intrigued by the bond between a mother and daughter working as business partners—rightfully so, since there are plenty of pairs out there who could literally never imagine that setup being sustainable.
“Lily is asked by virtually everybody, ‘what’s it like working with your mother?’ In other words, ‘you poor thing!’” Jenny told us with a cheerful wit. “Everybody's envious of me and sympathetic to her.”
Fittingly, Lily admits that she’s typically the more “Type A person” while her mom is “the fun one.” (But if you ask us, they’re both awfully fun.)
The Monbouquettes have no trouble separating family and business, because they don’t feel the need to—they’re even more powerful as a pair when they don’t. Lily told us that she does call her mom “Jenny” in professional environments, but when it’s just the two of them, they’re “very much like a mother and daughter working together and talking about personal things and professional things throughout the day. That's what makes it really fun, and it prompts a lot of our creativity when we are designing together.”
That creativity exists in spades, and their thought processes align even when they're not together, evidenced by an undeniable mind-meld that happens when they don’t remember who thought of what because they work that closely.
“My mom will sketch things in the middle of the night, and sometimes they’re totally crazy but usually they’re wonderful, and there have been quite a few moments where she’ll share something with me and I will have been thinking about the same exact thing.”
“It’s pretty uncanny at this point,” Jenny added.
The impact of motherhood goes beyond the roles Jenny and Lily play, as their designs honor the journey of being a mother in all of its many forms. That celebration includes the essential right that women have to choose when or if they want to embark on that journey.
Jenny and Lily created the Swirl Pillbox Ring in partnership with Planned Parenthood to represent the freedom to choose. The ring is designed to hold your tiny pill of female empowerment and the opportunity for everyone to dictate their own destiny.
In support of Planned Parenthood’s dedication to empowering and educating women on reproductive health, Monbouquette makes a 10% donation to Planned Parenthood with each purchase of the ring. How’s that for a greater purpose?
As a multi-generational team themselves, Jenny and Lily see that women of all ages and backgrounds are looking for something different and exciting from the jewelry they add to their collection.
“We want someone in their 60s and someone in their 20s to be attracted to our designs,” Lily explained. “I feel like we’ve achieved that just from the price point of the pieces. For my age group it’s aspirational, but they can still save up and splurge on a piece, and for my mom’s age group it’s a bit more attainable but never an impulse buy.”
The transformational pieces act as conversation starters to invite opportunities for interaction, rather than keeping individuals strictly in their lane.
At the onset, Jenny and Lily hesitated to wear anything other than their own jewelry in a natural effort to be their own best advocates— “it’s a fear of [Lily’s] to get compliments on things that aren’t something we’ve made.”
But with time, Lily has started wearing a ring her mom made and layering older necklaces with current designs, serving as a physical representation of the meeting of generations that came before.
Lily shared that “all of our necklaces have a bigger chain and are usually 18 inches, so your smaller 17-inch thin gold chain you’ve had forever sits really nicely with our statement pieces.”
The beauty of this multi-generational approach is learning from groups beyond your peers. Especially between mothers and daughters. Living by the mantra that “whenever you’re learning, you’re growing,” Lily and Jenny explain that they grow as business owners each and every day, and their investment in each other and the lessons they have to share never wavers.
Even with the hundreds of museum-worthy works of art that Monbouquette has created over the course of the past few years, Jenny has always said and believed that her children are her masterpieces, and best things she’ll share with the world.
Jenny and Lily’s dynamic as pioneering business partners in a tighter than tight-knit family is a gift that promises to always arrive on time.