Life and Design

by Amanda Jean Harris

Two Lafayette women live on through creative work

T****wo Lafayette women live on through creative work

Within a day, the flowers were beginning to pile up outside of Red Arrow Workshop. The door was locked. The lights out. A lone reporter with a video camera stood in the afternoon heat watchful for people leaving more blooms in tribute to Jillian Johnson.

Across Main Street in River Ranch at Parish Ink would-be customers peered into a darkened display window and then moved on. Both stores owned in part by Johnson and carrying items designed by her hand (along with others like her brother, Bram).

A brief way down Camellia Boulevard at Coco Eros, where 21-year-old Mayci Breaux worked, the store was open but somber after closing the day after the shooting. And by Saturday afternoon (just a day after announcing the high end women’s boutique would sell a necklace designed by Breaux) the store was sold out of the aqua and leaf Mayci necklace and taking names to place orders for more.

The necklace designed by Mayci on Mother’s Day with Parker Madison Designs is being produced by the Baton Rouge company and sold at the Lafayette store with proceeds going to an account for Mayci and her boyfriend Matthew who was also shot but is in good condition.

The designs of Johnson abound in Lafayette, from the Louisiana state power symbol and a slew of Cajun-centric designs on T-shirts to Acadian flag banners to smart little bags for ladies emblazoned with the Red Arrow logo.

Johnson’s own personal style was that rare blend of vintage with a modern simplistic overtone. It was something that didn’t go unnoticed garnering an INDStyle nod in 2013 during the INDStyle Awards produced by this publication. She came to the photo shoot with a calm spirit, red lipstick and a few options for wardrobe — an accordion pleated maxi and high-waisted jeans.

Lafayette’s men and women always have loved well-designed pieces that reflect our unique culture. As some have aptly described Johnson’s approach to Acadiana symbolism that infused much of her work — the artist held up a mirror to our local culture and made what makes us unique cool.

As a city continues to mourn there is no shortage of beautifully designed pieces to buy that not only benefit the victims’ families, but keep each of their beautiful memories alive. Items that do more than symbolize these women — pieces created from their very visions. — AJH