Hello and welcome to another episode of Tea with JT. This week I sipped skinny-flat-white with the absolutely fabulous Jane Brown. I could talk to this woman all day long because she is so interesting and has this absolutely contagious laugh. We met at Double Shot Deakin and talked everything from an horrific car accident Jane had when she was just a teen and how to be a ninja on Instagram! But if you like pearls, gems and all things Asian … then you will enjoy this read. Put the jug on, make a cuppa and sip away with us.
Who are you?
I am Jane Brown. A mother, wife and director of Jane Brown Pearls.
How long have you lived in Canberra?
I arrived in Canberra in 1967 and lived here until 1977. During that time we had a 3 year posting in Auckland New Zealand. My father was in the Royal Australian Navy and we moved fairly often throughout my childhood. As an adult I moved back to Canberra with my family (after a 5 year posting in Beijing). My husband and two boys have been happily living here for the past 20 years.
Age what age did you fall in love with pearls and jewels?
I have always loved jewellery and design, but it wasn’t until I was 30 that I was fortunate to be exposed to the pearl industry while living in Beijing. It was perfect timing as it was right as the market started to explode in the early nineties. I used to take visitors and friends to the pearl market when it was located outside the walls of the Temple of Heaven. It was then moved to a much bigger, purpose built shopping centre close by. The quality of Chinese pearls has risen immensely since their emergence onto the world market. I have loved being a tiny part of that process and could write a book about all my experiences and people met at the Hong Qiao Pearl Market.
How did you take that passion and turn it into a business?
It was shortly after I left China that I yearned to return; and in 1997 started a business designing and importing pearl jewellery. I could taste, touch and feel Beijing and wanted to return often! What better way to do that than start a business; and that is how Jane Brown Pearls was born.
I know you have clients all over the world, but is there a particular style of jewellery that Canberra women really adore?
Canberra ladies know quality and great design. They have a sense of style that shines through. Canberra women love to travel and are up to date with the latest in fashion. They also know that pearls aren’t just the classic piece to accessorise with anymore, they have evolved into contemporary pieces that we can wear everyday.
What do you have coming up?
Next weekend [October 31-November 1] I will be supporting the Girls Grammar Fete (my old school), I also have Christmas Fairs in Sydney and Canberra where I will be selling my designs before the end of the year.
What is your favourite place to dine?
I have many and can’t choose so I will share them all. Because I travel, my answer is diverse! Fasten your seat belts. When home in Canberra, I love Chairman & Yip, Lilotang, Eighty Six and Monster. When I am in Sydney I visit Cafe Sydney and Mr Wong, and Apollo. I love Cumulus Inc when I am in Melbourne. If you go to Hong Kong you must try The China Club and when back on Aussie soil, visit Josh’s Cafe in Berrima!
Name your favourite holiday destination.
It is no secret that my favourite holiday places are mostly Asian! Particularly Cambodia, Laos, Hong Kong and Thailand. I have dreams of visiting Myanmar, Vietnam, Japan and France. I also want to return to Italy and Turkey – both amazing countries with incredible history, culture and delicious food! I also have a strong desire to visit Kunming, Dali & Li Jiao in China as they have a strong indigo textile culture and my most favourite colour in the world is indigo blue! One of my other passions are textiles and Asian minority costumes.
Who does your hair?
My hair is looked after by Laura @ Oasis Hair Salon, Warramanga shops.
What makes you smile?
Being with my family makes me smile and fills me with love, that’s all I need.
If I could bless you with a superpower, what would it be?
My superpower would be to eliminate poverty and violence in the world; and for everybody to realise their full potential through education. I would also like to see more kindness, consideration for others and being able to listen to people without the constant distraction of electronic devices.
If you could change something about Canberra for the better, what would it be?
I would love Canberra to grow in population and have a great transport system that includes a super fast train that could take you to Sydney and Melbourne in a nano second! Apart from that I think Canberra is a great place to live, although I do love the buzz that a big, busy city gives you like Beijing, Sydney and New York!
Yes let’s get a super fast train! If nothing else from Jane’s interview, I am sure you can make a foodie shortlist of where to eat next. After being with Jane, I always start thinking about who I can buy a string of pearls for next. You can see some of her range at Canberra Girls Grammar Fete on Saturday, October 31, visit her showroom and follow Jane on Instagram.
Did you see the Tea with JT I did with the stylish Jemma Mrdak? You can read it here.