At Quince & Co., we’re always on the lookout for like-minded makers to collaborate with. When we came across J.M. Generals, it was love at first sight. From values to aesthetic to goats (!), we had found a kindred spirit.
Less than a year later, we are introducing our first collaboration – natural soap and lotion, made with goat’s milk (US goats of course). In the words of owner Jeffrey Monteiro, “Goat’s Milk is packed with naturally occurring vitamins, fatty acids and minerals that soothe, nourish and cleanse skin without the need to artificially add chemical ingredients to achieve these effects in soap and other products.”
The lotion and soap come in a scent developed exclusively for Quince, “Castine”. The scent features a refreshing blend of orange, litsea (a kind of evergreen), bergamot, and rosewood essential oils.
Jeffrey has a lengthy resume in the fashion world – his design director credits ranging from Derek Lam to Bill Blass. Starting J.M. Generals was an exciting departure for him. Below you’ll find a brief interview with Jeffrey about the experience, and what J.M. Generals is all about.
- Why did you start JM Generals?
After many years of working in fashion (an all-consuming industry), I wanted to develop a range of products that reflect my values of co-operative, inclusive and ethical design and production. I work directly and collaborate with producers, makers and artisans to explore the interests I have in product design, across various design disciplines.
Through the online store at J. M. GENERALS we develop products that are substantively designed and thoughtfully produced. We have a thorough knowledge of the provenance of the materials we use and every step of the production process, and are very conscious of the impact these products have not only in our daily lives but the larger one around us.
- Why is American Made important to you?
It’s crucial to keep techniques, values and craft traditions in existence. I find the process of working collectively with local producers, handcrafters, small industry and artisans very rewarding. To be able to exchange knowledge and experience in a supportive and nurturing process is a way of keeping production sustainable, no matter the size or scale of the industrial process.
- How did you go about finding Cashmere in America? It’s not exactly easy to come by.
I was looking into American-produced fiber and yarn to work with (primarily wool and cotton) and learned about the existence of American Cashmere producers. I started talking with and meeting many of these producers and was fascinated about the process, and impressed with the quality of the fiber. The passion these producers put in to cultivating quality and fineness of their cashmere fiber is very inspiring. Also seeing the care they take in raising the goats to produce the best fiber encouraged me to explore ways and methods to be able to design products using their precious and beautiful fiber. I have spent many hours learning about the processing from raw fiber to yarn, and continue to work with producers and mills to process the fiber in my product design.
- Do you think that the American cashmere production industry will get to the point where, say, Quince could make a yarn with American cashmere?
I do believe it could get to the point where American Cashmere production will be available to yarn producers such as Quince and Co. The quality of American fiber is exceptional–American Cashmere is produced for a high crimp in the fiber and for fiber strength, not just micron and staple length. The crimp in the fiber adds loft and lightness, allowing fiber to be spun into fine yarns and into heavier plies. The fiber micron and staple length range means the fiber has less breakage and therefore there is considerably less pilling in products produced from American Cashmere.
In certain parts of the world where cashmere is produced, the animals are starved in order to force them to produce more fiber, so they can try to keep themselves warm. It results in poor-quality fiber, and the harsh synthetic chemicals used to clean and process it further weaken it. This leads to short staple length and fiber breakage, which are the major causes of pilling. The biggest challenge is having American Cashmere processed to a specific standard here in the U.S. There are not many mills/facilities that can process cashmere at a consistent level, and it’s a delicate, precise fiber that needs special attention. You begin to realize that is why cashmere is historically expensive–unlike the cheap cashmere that comes from maltreated, starved animals and hastily processed without care, true, high-quality cashmere has an inherent value.
- Was it as hard to find the Goat’s milk that you use in your products? What does it add to the products?
Goat’s Milk is fairly readily available due to the increase in popularity of Goats Milk food and body care products and there are many dairy goat farms throughout the country.
Goat’s Milk is packed with naturally occurring vitamins, fatty acids and minerals that soothe, nourish and cleanse skin without the need to artificially add chemical ingredients to achieve these effects in soap and other products. The cream that is naturally in Goats Milk is very moisturizing, and in general it’s very beneficial to people with sensitive skin. I have very sensitive skin, and the J. M GENERALS Goat’s Milk products are the only products I use myself.
- You helped us create a special scent just for Quince: Castine. It has notes of orange, litsea, bergamot and rosewood. What types of scents do you usually gravitate toward?
I like fresh, woodsy and earth scent notes as well as light floral and bright citrus. There aren’t really many scent notes I don’t like; it’s more about getting the balance right in a blend, the alchemy, I like to think, that makes a scent that is special, unique and memorable. I think Castine is a combination of these elements. I like its fresh citrus top notes, bright middle notes and balancing fragrant wood base notes.
- What’s next for JM Generals?
Exciting new product lines! We are developing more woven products using some Quince & Co. products, and more felted cashmere products for the Fall/ Winter collection. We are also developing more body care products coming this fall, and we’re constantly improving and refining and adding to our existing line of products. A lot of research, time and care goes into what we make, so we are happy and proud to introduce new products to our customers.