Log on to the website for JL Designs and the following quote invokes a moment’s pause: “Style is timeless. It transcends generations. It’s enduring.
“It is my goal to maintain a strong sense of style in each of my creations, providing children with a sense of belonging and a way to celebrate their individuality.”
This statement from owner and designer Joyce LeBlanc of Rindge encapsulates all she does with her line of children’s clothing. Simple yet classic designs are brought to life with bright, but not overwhelming, fabrics to delight children and invite them to make each garment their own.
“There is a difference between style and fashion,” LeBlanc said, “and I go for style. What I make can be worn by another child 15 years from now. I would definitely say there is a retro feel, but still timeless and distinct.”
This type of design enables children to make each garment their own. One child might add a hair bow, Mary Janes and a cardigan to her dress for a very sweet look, while another can choose cowboy boots, a denim jacket and a ponytail — same dress as a foundation, two different approaches and two thrilled young girls expressing themselves.
“Children’s clothing has always been a passion of mine. I believe that giving children special things inspires self-confidence,” LeBlanc said. “When I began designing for myself, I just knew that I wanted to focus on children’s clothing. It makes me giggle and it makes me excited and it makes me happy. I can’t tell you the thrill I get when I see a child’s face light up.”
Last year at the League of N.H. Craftsmen’s Fair, LeBlanc had a little boy, perhaps preschool age, stop by her booth with his mother and grandmother. As they browsed, she had the sense he was completely over the fair for the day.
But when she had him close his eyes and then open them to find frisky foxes on the inside of a jacket lining, he was enthralled. Perhaps delighted to find clothing that so captivated their boy, the fox jacket went home with that family that day.
For many parents, that intersection of style, quality and whimsy sets JL Designs apart.
“I heard over and over at Sunapee (location of Craftsmen’s Fair) last year that it was refreshing to purchase clothes that were ‘well thought out’ and ‘meticulously constructed.’ People work hard for their money and I am not priced like Target, but parents know they are getting excellent quality in the materials and construction,” LeBlanc said. “Many people last year were families with multiple girls where the clothes can be passed down.”
LeBlanc is eager to attend the League of N.H. Craftsmen’s Fair, of which she is a juried member, at Lake Sunapee Resort once again this year, from Aug. 3 to 11, where she is excited to greet returning customers and to meet new ones.
League of N.H. Craftsmen Executive Director Miriam Carter is also anticipating the 2019 show, especially as she said, “The fair is the annual celebration of the entire league community and the talented artists we represent. We are always excited to see the new work that our craftsmen have created in the past year.
“If you think you have seen everything the fair has to offer, you should come this year and prepare to be amazed.” Carter continued. “This year, I am especially excited to share our new exhibition on the fairgrounds, called Art, Craft and Design: The Exhibition. We have been talking for years about combining our Living with Craft and Craftwear exhibitions, formerly housed in the Spruce Lodge. This year, we were able to make that vision come to form.”
For LeBlanc, it was actually when Carter became executive director of the league that she began seriously mulling over striking out on her own, as she had been doing some seamstress work and design for both Carter and fellow league member Annie Frye.
“I have lived in New Hampshire for 24 years and had never heard of the League (of N.H. Craftsmen) until 2013, when I was exposed to it through Miriam Carter and Annie Frye. I have gone to the fair at Mount Sunapee every year since and been blown away by the talent,” LeBlanc said.
“As time went on, Miriam and I developed styles to showcase my skills and people began asking her, ‘Who does your sewing?’ and asking me, ‘Why don’t you do something for yourself?’ I didn’t think I was good enough for the league, but I put together a collection of children’s clothes and was selected.”
To learn more about the 2019 League of N.H. Craftsmen’s Fair, visit
nhcrafts.org/annual-craftsmens-fair. LeBlanc and her enduring designs will be in Booth 633. To view more of Joyce LeBlanc’s line of children’s wear, visit JL Designs online at joyceleblancdesigns.com or contact LeBlanc directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time to visit the studio.