An accomplished producer, Jamie Leilani Pelayo has worked with the crème de la crème of the fashion and luxury industries, collaborating as part of Vogue’s video content team, spearheading the launch of Sephora TV and overseeing partnerships for luxury beauty e-commerce destination, Violet Grey. While on assignment for Vogue, a journey to the Marche region of Italy awakened a desire within her to share the stories of artisans all over the world.
A passion project a decade in the making, Jamie unveiled Stories + Objects this summer. A unique platform for truly immersive storytelling, it transports visitors to exotic locales, from the Yucatan Peninsula to Turkey, Cuba to Morocco, introducing us to revered artisans and the exquisite pieces they create through beautifully shot short films, photographs and interviews. Here, Jamie shares her sources of inspiration, treasured past-times and what beauty means to her.
What was the inspiration behind Stories + Objects?
I have always loved travel and culture, and I wanted to see the world. In the fashion industry, I was lucky to be exposed to the inner workings of ateliers throughout Europe, and I got to see craftsmanship from a new lens, one that’s very different from what we see in editorials or on red carpets. I gained an appreciation for the process of design overall. The “aha” moment [was] on a trip for Vogue in the Marche region of Italy, [where 90% of Italy’s shoe production comes from]. We went to this incredible shoe factory, [where] you have generations upon generations of knowledge passed down going into creating this driving loafer, which is so synonymous with luxury and so iconic. I thought, wow, what if there was a platform where we could tell stories of cultures and of different places, destinations around the world, through the eyes of the local creators and craftsman. So that was really the inspiration. A year and a half ago, I quit my full-time job to make time for the sea salt harvest off the coast of France on the island of Île de Ré, which was the first story we shot.
How do you source the products?
I’m a producer, so I don’t treat the process any differently than if I was producing a video or photo shoot. A lot of research [goes] into either the place or the object, depending on what leads the story. Sometimes, I think, This is a really beautiful place that might have an interesting story somewhere in there, and other times, it truly is the object that leads me down that path. It’s different every single time. With Cuba, I had an idea of who I wanted to interview, but there was no way to get in contact with him before I arrived. I spent the first week of our trip in Havana meeting people who could hopefully unlock that connection, and it worked. We have a 45-minute interview and a beautiful story with a man who is so elusive that not even The New York Times was able to get him. Hirochi Robaina, he inherited the most famous tobacco farm in Cuba. In Turkey…I literally spent the day picking roses with women out in the field and found this woman whose name, “Esengül”, translates roughly to “roses in the wind”. She grew up in a family of rose farmers and worked her way up to be the lead person on this crew, and she seemed perfect, so that was something that happened right then and there. It’s all kind of magic.
How has your background in video production and beauty/fashion informed your work?
Having the opportunity to go inside ateliers of great designers and beauty houses [to] understand why that [process] should be part of the storytelling – that was instrumental. I view [Stories + Objects] as a storytelling platform that you take a souvenir away from if you so choose…and, the fashion and luxury industry taught me a lot about packaging. From the moment I placed the first order for the salt in France, I knew it’s not going to be enough just to send people a baggie of salt, so I had to work with a ceramicist to create beautiful porcelain salt jars. That presentation and the attention to detail and the want to present these creations in luxury packaging definitely was inspired by my background.
What’s been most rewarding about working on Stories + Objects?
[Meeting] people of all different backgrounds who are bringing such beauty into the world and their passion for their work. The people that I’m working with, they are the most sought-after, they are doing the highest quality, they’re not making compromises. Being able to personally witness that is really wonderful. But I think more importantly – the ability for me to share those stories and to put a face and a voice with…these objects that we have familiarity with [but] wouldn’t otherwise think of through this cultural lens. I think the most rewarding part is being able to share those stories and introduce those voices and those characters. Every single time I learn something really incredible about the world and the people who live in it, and that’s what’s really beautiful.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about balancing work and personal life?
I think if your work is something that you love and it’s a part of your lifestyle, then it doesn’t really become a conflict. I think it’s just making sure that your work aligns with your life’s goals, quite frankly. So many of us pursue paths because we think success is determined by a certain job goal or a company that we work for.
I think success really is making sure that you are living your fullest dreams and desires, and channeling your work into something that has meaning for you and allows you to live the life you want to live.
What are some of your favorite ways to unwind?
I am so fortunate to live out in nature now. I live within a big, exciting city, but out in nature. I love being in the water. I love surfing and paddle boarding and taking walks on the beach. I love gardening. I have some micro-farms; I have two sheep and chickens and ducks, and I volunteer at the wildlife center. For me, part of unwinding is taking attention off of myself and focusing on others, and it’s wonderful to be able to work with animals. I try to stay active, surround myself with beautiful things and help others.
What must-have essentials are in your makeup pouch?
A good hand lotion because I’m traveling a lot, I’m working with animals, so I wash my hands quite often. [The Bastide] hand cream is my go-to. For makeup, I’m doing my eyebrows and some mascara, and from time to time, some lipstick, so I keep it all pretty basic. Serge Lutens Comb Mascara is amazing, that’s what I usually use for my lashes. For my brows, there’s an incredible brow guru here named Kristie Streicher, and I usually have my brows tinted there. La Prairie makes this amazing lip and eye balm. I’ve been using this luxury rose face oil that I had made from the organic roses in Turkey. And then perfume, of course! I love perfume. I tend to love floral scents. I love things that remind me of the sun and summer.
Shop Jamie’s favorite Bastide picks:
Neroli Lumiere Eau de Toilette: I love Neroli, the energy of the sun…and sun-kissed skin!
Figue d’Ete Handwash and Lotion: Great for frequent hand washing when spending time with the animals
#LaVieBastide is our interview series with creators and innovators who take a holistic approach to living the good life. Through our conversations, we spotlight the various ways they make time for joyful pursuits and thoughtful introspection amidst the busy, buzzing world, in the hopes that you will be inspired to hit “pause” every now and again to indulge in the simple pleasures that stir your passions, ensuring that yours is a life well lived.