If there’s one thing that quarantine has taught us, it’s that there’s something to be said for slow living. In a world that often demands instant gratification, slow living invites us to let go of that need and focus on simple, meaningful enjoyment instead.
It’s not always easy, especially when that next Instagram photo or streaming TV show is right at our fingertips, but it’s something that brings joy to all those little moments that jigsaw together to create life as we know it.
L’Impatience knows all about slow living in the Hudson Valley. It also knows that making an effort to live more mindfully can be a serious struggle.
Based on the border of Saugerties and Woodstock, L’Impatience is a husband-and-wife-owned ceramics brand that roots itself in minimalism, simplicity, and, yes, slow living. So it’s somewhat ironic that the brand’s name translates to impatience in French.
“The early beginnings of L’Impatience started in our Brooklyn apartment, where we had installed a makeshift studio comprised of a potter’s wheel and a couple of shelves,” owners Benedicte and Jerome Leclere recall. “We did break many pieces indeed, but mainly due to our constant eagerness to see the end results too soon…which is how the name naturally came to us.”
At that point in their lives, impatience was standard for the couple, who began their careers in the fast-paced world of advertising first in France, then in Canada, and later in New York City. By the time they found ceramics, they were working in New York City as a producer and an art director, respectively. Enmeshed in the ever-changing panorama of digital and television advertising, the couple recognized that much of the work they did would disappear as quickly as they made it or potentially never be released at all. It was tiring work, but the duo never expected they’d shift gears so completely.
“It happened a little randomly with a Christmas gift, an introduction to pottery wheel for Benedicte,” Jerome says. In no time at all, Benedicte was hooked on the craft. Soon, she began spending every spare weekend at La Mano Pottery in Manhattan and even received a potter’s wheel from her family and friends for her birthday. Jerome, meanwhile, hated it at first, citing the slow pace as simply too frustrating. Yet after more than a few late-night attempts with the wheel, he too fell in love with the craft.
“Time just stops when you throw on the wheel,” they explain. “Your brain becomes so at ease [that] sometimes you don’t even feel time passing and four hours can barely feel like one.”
Around the time they put a serious focus on ceramics, they also began looking for a home in the Hudson Valley. They had already grown accustomed to escaping Brooklyn during the weekends in favor of open upstate landscapes, so they knew that it was only a matter of time before they found their perfect home in the region.
“[Long weekends in the Hudson Valley] were always the best weekends, canoeing on a river, sunbathing in the garden, or chilling by the fireplace while carving wooden spoons or knitting,” they reminisce. After a year of back-and-forth trips upstate to scout houses with their realtor, they found their picture-perfect home, one with 180-degree unobstructed views of the Hudson Valley, in Ulster County. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for the couple, who just found out they were expecting their little boy.
They made the move from Brooklyn and, soon after, launched L’Impatience. While the brand is still in its first year in business, it’s already garnered a following in the Hudson Valley thanks to its contemporary, minimalistic designs that strike a harmony between rawness and elegance.
“We just love how the organic character can blend with that satisfying functional feel,” they explain. “We are always working with this idea of bringing value into an object that bridges together beauty and utility.”
To craft their signature pottery, the Lecleres rely upon white stoneware, which has a natural roughness to it, and clay stains, which color the clay and give it a final polish. They like to accentuate the pure beauty of their materials, so they often choose to only glaze the insides of pieces with a clear glaze instead of a colored one. This technique shines in their L’Inevitable and L’Insouciance lines, which feature sleek pink and gray cups with crisp white interiors. Currently, their L’Impure vases and planters are the best sellers, due largely to their smooth, unusual designs. They’re followed closely by the candle holders, which boast sturdy triangular bases that make any table or mantle look like a scene from an editorial spread.
While pottery is the modus operandi for the Lecleres, they’re always open crafting with natural materials like wool or fabric. Last year, they released a limited collection of haori and kimono jackets with great success.
Today, L’Impatience continues to operate primarily online in the Hudson Valley. Fortunately for the Lecleres, they ordered a whopping 2,000 pounds of clay before the COVID-19 quarantine period went into effect in New York State. During self-isolation, they’ve been able to keep busy with crafting and online sales.
“We are hopeful for the upcoming months, as we recently started to receive new orders from shops and we are actually just about to send out our biggest order of planters yet to a plant and flower shop based in Brooklyn and Chicago,” they say. In the Hudson Valley, they hope to continue collaborating with Flowerkraut in Hudson, Hops Petunia in Kingston, and será in Woodstock, to name a few. They’re also on the hunt for a larger studio, since they’re close to outgrowing their current space.
Until then, however, they’ll keep throwing their clay, slowing their pace, and savoring the simple pleasure of creating beautiful works with the power of their hands.
“[We] are making something that can possibly outlive us,” they reflect. “The idea that someday in tens or hundreds of years, someone could find our pieces in the remains of a house is truly mind-blowing.”