I came across Jacques’ Old Fashioned Instagram account when I was searching for a beard product for my hard to buy for husband. The struggle is real when it comes to buying the men in my life gifts. They either want something I know nothing about (complicated tools or tech items) or the items are way too pricey – back to those tools and tech items again. Or, they just buy what they want when they want it! This makes holiday shopping pretty challenging. Jacques saved the day for me.
He and his wife, Kamille grew up in Brownsville, TX. Kamille went off to attend USC as a theatre arts major in CA. By mere coincidence, (we like to think it was fate) Jacques ended up in the same area of Los Angeles as a semi-professional long boarder. A super active and outdoorsy guy, Jacques’ impressive beard was taking a beating from snowboarding and longboarding. After researching beard conditioning products on the market and realizing how costly they were, he decided to try his hand at formulating his own beard oil. His friends started asking for his homemade beard oils and before long he gathered a loyal following. Kamille loved the scent and asked if he would consider making a candle line as an alternative to the floral and perfume smells that dominate the candle industry. She quickly became the official scent boss and is tasked with approving new combinations. This season you can look forward to Peppermint and Christmas Cabernet candles.
One of the things both Jacques and Kamille are passionate about is using locally sourced ingredients and supplies. After doing some research Jacques landed on a combination of beeswax and soy wax for a super long lasting, clean burn. The variety of scents are unusual and unique yet far more natural than what you typically see offered at a store. That means, just taking the lid off the candle is enough to make the room smell good, without even lighting it.
Last year Jacques and Kamille found out they were expecting their first baby. What would normally be one of the happiest times in a couple’s life turned into their worst nightmare. At 20 weeks Kamille and Jacques found out their baby suffered from a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia or CDH. When the diaphragm fails to close during development it allows the stomach and other internal organs to enter the chest, impacting the growth and development of the baby’s lungs. Requiring neonatal intensive care, Jacques and Kamille had no choice but to move from Austin to Houston where they spent 2 months at Ronald McDonald House in preparation for the birth.
I asked Kamille what got them through this incredibly scary and uncertain time. She shared that leading up to their temporary move to Houston she encouraged Jacques to do something creative to battle the helpless, sad feelings associated with their situation. Jacques was extremely worried about his wife and child and feeling overcome with stress. As a creative person, he needed an outlet and found that in leather work. He had always been fascinated by leather work since he accompanied his Mom to local markets in South Africa as a child. He channeled the anxious energy by spending time in what was to become their baby’s nursery, doing leatherwork. This process turned into more than a therapeutic hobby. Jacques now offers a variety of high-quality leather goods from wallets, tote bags, and accessories to pet products.
Kamille started taking the leather scraps and recycling them into jewelry. Growing up on a farm in South Texas, her Mom was a horse-trainer. Kamille recalls being surrounded by intricate leather work adorning saddles and tack. This influence inspires her jewelry making and led to a husband-and-wife collaboration. Merging their two ideas, “South of Here Co.” is their new brand. As a nod to growing up in South Texas and South Africa, respectively. They have tried different leather working techniques including tooling, dying and painting. The quality of the leather is of utmost importance to them so your items will last forever and become functional keepsakes that can be passed down.
Baby Owen was born December 23rd and had major surgery at just 3 days old. They were able to bring him home on January 15th with a good prognosis that his smaller lung will catch up and grow in time. Just as they were getting their footing as new parents and adjusting to life with a very special newborn, the pandemic hit. Like most small business owners, they have full-time jobs too. Jacques works for HEB and Kamille works for The University of Texas. While it has not been without its challenges as small business owners, it’s fair to say their perspective has forever been changed after going through their ordeal with Owen. Finding good in the world and giving back are at the forefront of Jacques and Kamille’s mission with their business. They go out of their way to support other small, local businesses and their community. I was beyond inspired after learning more about this awesome family. I already have some items picked out to order for friends and family this holiday season. One of the things I love and appreciate about working with fellow small business owners is the personal connection and feeling that we get to make a positive impact in one another’s lives. I hope you join me this holiday season and beyond in supporting Jacques Old fashioned and South of Here Co.
To purchase products from Jacques Old Fashioned, click here.