Janet Jay of Pearl+


As a world traveler and highly respected beauty consultant, Janet Jay references her history and travels as inspiration for her beautiful line, Pearl+.

Made from crushed pearl powder and other nutrient rich ingredients, her soaps are a modern interpretation of Traditional Chinese Medicine and beauty rituals. Knowing the thoughtfulness and intentionality she puts into the spaces she creates, we asked her to share what inspires her and how travel influences the way she lives.


Where’d you grow up and where do you call home?

I grew up in NYC but live in Portland, Oregon. I love both cities and feel like “home” is a state of mind.

You’ve lived in so many vibrant places (New York and Tokyo) and live in Portland now. What do you appreciate about living in a smaller city?

The ease of doing things, the time to really interact with people, and the natural beauty that Portland has.


What are some of your favorite things about each place you’ve lived and how do you incorporate those into where you are now?

Family, friends, great food. Beauty is all around, whether it is natural or man-made. I’ve been fortunate to have this in all the places I’ve lived. Having grown up in NYC, I’ve always been inspired by the melting pot of cultures. This diversity is what I appreciate in my environment. Japan has taught me the importance of quality, craftsmanship and details, as well as the respect and lifelong process of learning and perfecting one’s art form. These qualities are what influence the way I live and objects I choose to live with now.

Do you have any rituals for making a place feel like home?

When I travel, I bring my own Pearl+ soaps, a favorite cashmere throw and incense or candle.


Your aesthetic is so refined and yet you seem to have so many sources of influence, how do you edit and create such cohesive environments?

I love and appreciate many different aesthetics. It’s important to collect the things you visually and emotionally gravitate to. Environments are personal, so it’s in that individuality that you appreciate the beauty.

We know you worked in the more mainstream realm of beauty, how has that affected your brand today?

Working at major beauty companies has taught me so much about global beauty and the need to embrace differences. When I worked on new product development at Lauder, creating products for other countries was so much more interesting than creating for the U.S. The cultural influences on what beauty meant to women in different parts of the world is fascinating. Pearl+ Soaps started with an idea from childhood, watching my aunts and grandmother’s Chinese beauty rituals. They religiously used products that incorporated crushed pearl, and living in Japan opened my eyes to the effectiveness of activated charcoal. This was way before activated charcoal became one of the “it” ingredients that it is now. Pearl+ Soaps are Asian in their roots, but the inspiration comes from traditional Chinese medicine. Beauty is truly a frame of mind and is a result of the way you live.

Do you entertain at home? If so, what does an evening look like at your home?

Our schedules have made it difficult to entertain at home lately. But when I have, it’s been at our houseboat with a small intimate group. Summer is especially beautiful on the river. It’s usually super casual and food is simply prepared, always using the abundance of fresh produce grown in Portland. The houseboat was inspired by Japan’s Minka, which are compact country style homes, but still have everything you need.

You and your husband both have such strong, visual points of view. How do you balance this when creating your interior environments?

We’re lucky in that we have similar aesthetics; although mine may be a little more eclectic and wabi sabi to his more minimal clean lines.


What does a typical day look like for you?

Wake up, feed my kitty, head to the studio, answer emails, have a few meetings, break for a healthy studio lunch, which is usually a salad made by Lucy and Cay.  I’ll then check on orders and production and answer more emails. We take afternoon smoothie breaks made with Sun Potion Tocos and Farmer’s Market berries. After work I get in some exercise.

What does a night in involve?

Nights in are rare, so when I have those times I’m most likely relaxing and doing very little!


What are your favorite home stores?

Analogue Life, Wyeth, ABC Carpet, Good Mod, Dogwood PDX, Cargo

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

Each Christmas, my sons find a young artist who they admire and give me their art as gifts. I love seeing how their taste in art has evolved and that they continue to support young artists like themselves.  I don’t know if it’s a coincidence but so far the artists have all been women!


Do you have any go-to gifts for giving?

Pearl+ Soaps, T Project Teas, or fresh flowers

Where are the places you’ve traveled that have had the most influence on your home?

Many places, but mostly Asia


Who are your favorite artists? And who are you favorite designers (can be fashion, interiors, graphics or anything)?

Ruth Asawa, Fiber Artist Francoise Large,  Sacai, Kapital, U by Christian Lemaire, Vintage Matsuda, Pas de Calais


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