JIANBE carving a foothold in green fashion with bamboo and wooden watches

Stephanie Lyew

December 20, 2021

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Jhanae Bailey is the mind behind JIANBE timepieces. PHOTOS BY STEPHANIE LYEW

Timepieces are a dime a dozen, but it’s not often that one discovers a watch brand that promotes sustainable living along with style and quality in its designs. One Jamaica-based brand — JIANBE — is carving a way for green fashion by consistently reducing its carbon footprint in hopes of saving the Earth one timepiece at a time.

According to Jhanae Bailey, the mind behind JIANBE, their watch designs focus on minimising their impact on the environment, from the manufacturing process down to the packaging.

“We think of our watches as green fashion because it comes from the earth. We primarily use bamboo, [which] grows up to three metres in a month or two. Therefore it replenishes itself. Versus if we were using materials like steel, which is made by mixing carbon and iron at high temperatures and would result in high amounts of energy consumption and materials to produce. Also, wood is durable and versatile, and we, essentially, give back to the earth with our designs,” she told Flair.

The collection features lightweight and eco-friendly wristwatches beautifully crafted and made from natural bamboo trees, reclaimed wood, and vegan leather, making these JIANBE pieces conversation starters. The watch designer also has a fresh outlook on life, creating a business that revolves around the core concepts of harmony, sustainability, and nature.

And her own life reflects this.

She is an environmentalist at heart who believes that “everything we do, think, say, and dream about” should really be centred around taking care of the environment and having the environment take care of us.

“I am all about sustainability,” said Bailey, whose studies are in urban planning, “and I really have a heart for the environment and the preservation of it.”

When Bailey decided to start wearing more jewellery made of natural products such as bamboo necklaces and bracelets, earrings made of coconut shells, and other accessories made of wood, she realised that her watches would not fit in. “The watches were always made of stainless steel or some metal in gold or silver. My family already had a business working with wood, so it was then [that] the idea was born to design a watch and have them carve it,” Bailey said.

She added, “Getting the bracelet design was no problem, but in the beginning, when it came to the mechanics of the watch, it was hard to find a local company that could meet our expectations and create the parts that incorporated our bands and faces. We ended up having to outsource and partner with a small company from a neighbouring island. Thinking up an actual design is easy, and it has become an occasion, every two months when we gather to think up new designs.”

Once they have figured out the engineering of a piece, on average, JIANBE creates one timepiece a week and changing trends have helped to improve their business. “There have been persons who turned down the design, especially persons who prefer smartwatches, but we have met them halfway by including five new designs of detachable bands for Apple Watch wearers,” shared Bailey.

“Each time we design and create, we aim to do 50 to 60 watches per batch and to introduce new designs into each batch we do. This could take us up to a month,” she continued.

She said she is pleased with the direction the brand is now taking — adding new and interesting complications — for each collection while also still building. She plans to increase the batch from 60 to 100 watches.

Bailey’s brain is always ticking, and with each design, she will think of other types of wood to experiment with for extravagant designs, but she admits that her family has banned her from the woodworking shop.

“My family and friends say I am not welcomed in the woodworking shop. They say I belong in the design room. When I go into their space, I mess things up. And it’s true. I am great at putting them together… sanding and carving not so much,” she said. “I like to inspect, to take the time to see the beauty in recyclable wood and steel. Wood is so versatile that even if I wanted a lightly coloured wood for a specific design, I’ve found that using a darker grain may produce a design I never thought of. To see the final product is always a surprise.”

The JIANBE watches are sold with a complimentary bamboo or wooden box and have a one-year warranty. They have also formulated a polisher for the watches made of natural oils. She said the sales have been consistent, having sold approximately 150 watches for 2021.

“JIANBE is relatively new. We are growing and embracing the growth. The sales are steady. I can’t say great because there is always room for improvement when it comes on to business. However, it’s about raising awareness now, then sales later. We want Jamaicans and the world to see our brand contributing to sustainable fashion and the Earth,” Bailey said.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com

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Stephanie Lyew

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