ELEVEN SIX STORY | Benedicte + Jerome Leclere of L'IMPATIENCE CERAMICS
Photos by Emma Tuccillo | @emma_austen
Meet the talented, creative couple: Benedicte + Jerome Leclere behind the brand: L'impatience Ceramics. The native French couple met at school, worked in advertising in Paris, then via Canada before landing in NYC. A ceramics class gift turned into a ceramic passion project, later leading them to leave their corporate jobs and follow their creative dreams in starting a brand and migrating Upstate for some space and to start their family. We have the honor of being their neighbors within the historic Fuller Building in Kingston, NY where we got to photograph them in their favorite ELEVEN SIX pieces. Read on to hear about their career-to-brand journey, small business challenges, their recent art collaboration: Unravelling and the secret to their success working as a couple (you must read the most beautiful statements they wrote about each other!)
Jerome wears the NICK Sweater in Graphite Tweed + Benedicte wears the SOPHIA Sweater Jacket
Can you share your backgrounds and how your career paths in the advertising world transitioned into your beautiful brand : L'impatience Ceramics?
We started our careers back in Paris working in advertising, Jerome as an Art Director and Benedicte as a Producer. We had both been attracted to the creative aspects of the advertising world, working with various clients all the time, with different goals and challenges. These careers led us to move to Canada (Vancouver and Toronto) and then eventually to NYC. But after so many years in agencies and production companies, we felt burnt out by the fast-paced constant craziness of the advertising industry and felt like we needed to refocus on something more tangible. We stumbled upon ceramics in 2017, it all started with an innocent Christmas gift that ended up bringing a lot more than we expected.
We love your French brand name: L'impatience. Can you share the meaning behind the name?
The name came out to us one night as we were working on some pieces back in our Brooklyn apartment. Trying to go too fast, we ended up breaking a piece, which prompted a very frustrated "Ah! L'Impatience...'" (quoted in a strong French accent...). We're both very impatient people, and coming from an industry where everything is for yesterday, ceramics really taught us how to take a breath, step back and let time do its thing. We're still not the most patient people but we're working on it everyday.
What inspired your brands style and how would you describe it?
We have always had a deep appreciation for timelessness in design. In general, simplicity, natural elegance and contemporary influences dictate our style. We love clean lines and minimalist designs and definitely take inspiration from Japanese and Danish aesthetics within our work.
Benedicte wears the SOPHIA Sweater Jacket
Growing a small brand is no easy feat. Can you share some of the highlights and then some of the challenges you experience?
Opening our own ceramic studio has definitely been the most rewarding experience in our lives. We get to design our own pieces and be as creative as we want, and control every aspect of it. On both a personal level, this turned out to be an answer to many of our life long quests of doing something creative and living from it, as well as incorporating better our personal and professional lives conjointly. This allowed us to adopt a lifestyle better suited to us, a slower pace and a more meaningful everyday life, even though we most likely work much more than we ever have.
Jerome wears the Men's Shawl Collar Cardigan + Julian Hat in Graphite Tweed
Benedicte wears the Aurora Sweater
You recently collaborated with the prolific textile artist: Kat Howard on the fantastic Unraveling exhibition? Can you speak more to this experience and if you plan to develop work further in this conceptual art direction in the future?
We met Kat in 2021 when we first moved our studio to Kingston, and we immediately connected. We both have the same sensibility in terms of art and are attracted to the same kind of work. So the idea of collaborating came about very naturally. We both have a deep love for ceramic and fiber and the idea of using both mediums as complementing as much as contrasting really attracted us all. We met several times throughout the year, bouncing ideas off each other every time, and the idea of having a power struggle in between the two mediums quickly came out as a concept. How the strong, still ceramic could be altered, tormented, even destroyed by the seemingly fragile fiber. Out of these discussions we created seven installations of various scales, including a 7ft tall cocoon-like piece, a levitating two-part piece and a 16x4ft spread made out of over 30 vessels. The sculptures were on view at the Fuller Building for a month in November 2022.
We absolutely loved working on these pieces, stepping outside of the functional work we do everyday. We have a lot of other ideas we want to explore more this year, and are already working on our next exhibition. And we're in discussion for another collaboration with Kat, with a pretty big partner... Can't wait to say more about it!
In the exhibition space: Jerome wears the Nick Sweater + Julian Hat in Navy Tweed + Benedicte wears the Marisa Sweater in Ivory
We are honored to be your co-working neighbor in the historic Fuller Building. How has moving into the building enhanced your brands journey?
When moving into the Fuller, we immediately felt overwhelmingly welcomed by the community and we love being a part of it every single day. It has been very motivating to see all the other artists and small business owners that share the building and it helped us see how our brand could fit within this microsphere and figure out how we could evolve it with a different perspective.
We love being involved in the popup markets and Fuller markets that take place in the building throughout the year where we invite people to come discover all of our different brands. We feel that L'Impatience has already grown immensely in the last year thanks to it and we are so excited of what will come with this new year.
Do you have anything exciting in the pipeline for L'impatience you would like to share?
We have a lot in the works right now, some new pieces we have been working on, both functional and less functional as well. We are going to expand our dinnerware collections and work with restaurants and hotels particularly. We will start offering workshops in our studio starting February: wheel throwing and also pottery carving sessions. We recently made speakers with ceramic horns and plan on making new models this year as well. We also have a few ideas for new art installations and collections. We will see how much time allows in 2023!
Jerome wears the Mens Shawl Collar + Julian Hat in Graphite Tweed
How has moving Upstate to the Catskills from the city transformed you and your family's lives?
It has been an enormous change. The original plan, like a lot of people, was to buy a weekend house as an escape from the city. Somewhat, unknowingly at the time, we wanted a bigger change, we hadn't fully realized that we needed a complete overhaul. Luckily all stars aligned and pushed the decisions for us to leave the city and our office jobs while our son was also on the way, and a new career that was only a hobby at first. Living upstate has met all the expectations we had but couldn't fully formulate originally. Everyday life isn't as much of a struggle as it used to be and we get to fully enjoy every aspect of it. We are more focused in our work while keeping our energy for boosting our creativity. We get to spend a lot of time with our son, and most interestingly we have made a lot more friends in this relatively short span of time, even though it felt a bit remote to live in the woods at first.
Jerome wears the Nick Sweater + Julian Hat in Navy Tweed + Benedicte wears the Marisa Sweater in Ivory | In the background hangs a Kat Howard Textile hanging
Jerome: what you three words would you use to describe Benedicte?
Driven, caring, generous. She is the best wife, best friend, best mother one could have and I am very lucky our paths crossed back in high school. Her kindness is unconditional and her optimism is highly contagious. We have so much fun together I hardly feel like we're ever working, we are just on a life long adventure together.
Benedicte: what you three words would you use to describe Jerome?
Endlessly curious, resourceful and caring. He's the best partner I could have ever wished for. He's always full of ideas, and even if we're together 24/7, we never fight or get bored of each other. We've been together since high school so we've grown together, learning from each other and adapting to each other along the way, so I guess that's what makes us a great team and so easy to work together.
How do you balance working as a couple on L'impatience inside and outside of the studio and how do you both like to switch off ?
To be fully honest, it has been hard to switch off at all in the recent years, but luckily we both enjoy being together and being in the studio so it definitely makes things easy. Since we have known each other so long, there is that non-verbal communication happening that has made us split some tasks naturally, divide and conquer when needed but still always incorporating the other one in every decision, balancing off each other on anything big or small. It's become both our workplace and playground, we do spend a lot of time in the studio. Half the nights are spent doing more administrative or computer work at home.
We do have a hard time actually switching off, also having our personal activities on the side, but when we do, it's usually on weekends with our son wandering the towns and villages around and the gorgeous outdoor surroundings.
What does the ELEVEN SIX brand mean to you which are your favorite pieces and why?
We're always amazed by the quality, attention to detail and craftsmanship of every piece that comes out of Eleven Six. They are by far our favorite pieces in our closet and each one of them is a real treat everytime we wear it. And as small business owners who left their careers to start their own thing, we feel deeply connected to Catherine and Nick's stories and admire their dedication and constant motivation. In a world full of fast-fashion and endless waste, it feels very important to us to support small makers that put quality first over profit.
Our favorite pieces? That's hard to choose, there's too many! But we're obsessed with the Marisa sweater, as well the Mila, the Allison, the Marlowe, the Layla and the Sophia jacket. And we absolutely love the Dana made in collaboration with Dana McClure. We love Dana and her work so nothing better than seeing both arts joined to create this gorgeous piece! And, Jerome could wear the Nick sweater everyday!