By Robert Downes
A gift for creativity and an eye for design have served Jonelle Jill
LeClair well in recent months: Despite a tough economy, shes launched her
own business, Renaitre, specializing in home makeovers on a budget.
Despite having no formal training in interior design, Jill decided to take
the plunge at the urging of friends who were impressed by her inherent
skills at selecting just the right color for a wall or the right
arrangement for a room in order to create a fresh new look at home.
She also brings many life skills and experiences to the table.
Ive always been a super creative person, she says. Im really
visually oriented and Ive done everything from painting to photography to
landscape design and different kinds of art. Im also very ecologically
oriented and I think that sense of being in touch with the earth comes
through in my work.
ROOTS & RISK
Currently living in Traverse City, LeClair grew up in Cheboygan, where she
attended high school. Thereafter, she studied
nursing at Northwestern Michigan College and became an R.N., specializing
in physical rehabilitation at Munson Medical Center and working mostly
with spinal cord injury patients.
But her heart always yearned for the creative realm and she discovered a
talent for photography while taking a class at NMC. I was an R.N., but I
loved taking photos of kids, she recalls. I decided to quit my nursing
job and open a photo studio, doing all portraits, children and weddings.
LeClair says shes always been something of a risk-taker; hence the plunge
into a new careeer. She spent 13 years in the photography business, and
then decided to explore another fascination with interior design. By
chance, she got involved in redesigning some rooms for friends and
acquaintances, and things began to click.
I was inspired by a book called The Well Dressed Home, she says. The
author would take fashions from the closets of her clients and find other
textures and colors that they liked in order to redesign their homes.
Ive used some of that technique myself. People say, I dont know how
to put things together in my home, and I say, yes you do -- you just
dont know it yet.
What about her own home?
Its eclectic, LeClair says. Its filled with pieces that I love. Im
not into matching -- I like things that set your heart on fire and show
your personality: Your travels in life, your photos, and things that are
near and dear to you.
She says the name of her business, Renaitre, is French for new life.
I felt that was a good name for my business because it was a new start
for me and for the people I work with. It means a new home for you and a
renaissance in your life with a fresh start.
The name was also inspired by a trip she made to Paris last year to visit
one of her two daughters who was studying art history in France. Paris
was a huge inspiration for starting my business. I thought about the
beautiful art there and the fashions and my own history of French
Speaking of which, LeClair says that her great, great, great grandmother
was a full-blooded Iroquois. She met a French fur trader who took her to
live in Cheboygan, so Ive always felt the pull of those two realms: the
French and the Native Americans.
She likes to take her clients on a sort of Native American vision quest
of their homes, involving a spiritual journey into ones values and sense
On the practical side of her business, LeClair offers a range of home
services, from painting to cleaning, organizing and light landscaping in
addition to decorating -- all at a very modest rate. She also offers new
room in a day deal for $150, which involves painting one wall and
redesigning the space with items from the clients own home.
I work with any budget, but people need to be open to trying new
possibilities and letting me try something new, she says.
Contact Jill LeClair and Renaitre at
ph. 231-633-1005, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.