We had the good fortune of connecting with Jean Marie Clarke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jean Marie, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born in Calcutta, India to British/Indian parents so I actually have Indian blood in me mixed in with my British blood. My family came to America when I was three years old however I feel a strong connection to India as I was raised as an Anglo – Indian. So my mother Philomena cooked only Indian food at home, and our home was furnished with treasures that my parents brought with us from India. I grew up hearing stories about India and especially a lot about Mother Teresa, as her first home for the poor was right around the corner from our home in Calcutta. I started Pax Philomena with the goal to honour my mother Philomena and also to give back. When we came to America it was not easy so I know what it means to struggle in life and I am so happy that thru Pax Philomena with our donations to Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity here in Phoenix, Arizona we help the poorest of the poor. Mother Teresa said that Peace begins with a smile. I feel that my colourful clothing makes people smile, and spreads peace as well.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Pax Philomena is a company dedicated to spreading joy and smiles through beauty and color — you will see this in our clothing, our jewelry, and all of our other endeavors in the future. At Pax Philomena, QUALITY is our number one priority and all of our items are handmade using some of the finest materials that the textile industry has to offer. I am most proud of the incredible beauty and uniqueness that define every item in our collection. A quick visit to our website will bring people into our beautifully colorful world with intricately designed dresses, kaftans, shirts, loungewear, outerwear and more. In our collection you will find many surprises. You will come across stunning silk kaftans using luxurious Italian silks alongside cotton dresses colored with all-natural traditional Indian dyes. You will find saguaro-themed bandanas alongside matching two-pieces for young babies and toddlers. This diversity and imagination is what inspires us and we know that our customers are inspired by it too. At Pax Philomena we have merged some of the beautiful color schemes and palettes of Indian clothing with Western styles so that we can bring a refreshing new look to the marketplace. Most Western consumers are taken aback at our collections because they are not used to seeing such stunning and vibrant designs on a regular basis. We are a small business and we are a family-run business. I am the founder but I also have major support from my two sons and my father who help me with everything from business strategy to digital marketing to inventory and product design. If you know anything about small business, then you know that this path has not been “easy” in any sense of the word. Our success has come through immense passion and fearless perseverance and we have had to “learn on the job” as we did not have previous experience in the direct-to-consumer fashion business. We have had to educate ourselves completely in the worlds of e-commerce and digital marketing and these have been challenging lessons on a very fulfilling journey. Overall, we want people to know that Pax Philomena exists to spread light and spread joy so that we can all experience peace on a daily basis. We are so grateful for the personal connection we can build with each client who joins the Pax Philomena family and we hope that some of those who read the piece will reach out to us and add some Pax Philomena to their wardrobes as well!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
To be honest, my favorite spot in the city is my childhood home where I still enjoy the traditional Indian cuisines that I grew up on. If I’m being realistic, I would bring my best friend to visit my father and my son (who live together!) for nearly every meal because we are a family that truly enjoys a home cooked meal! With that being said, of course I would have to bring my friend to a few of my favorite local spots. I would absolutely bring my friends to Postino on Central and to El Chorro on Lincoln which are two of my absolute favorite spots. Most likely, we would spend much of our time exploring the natural beauty inside and around Phoenix. We would spend some wonderful time exploring the Botanical Gardens (assuming my friend is visiting in the cool months!) and we would likely take a day trip up to enjoy the gorgeous colors and sights of Sedona. I would show them around the premises of Brophy — both the school and the chapel — where I sent my sons for their education and also explore the beautiful Church at St. Francis Xavier which my family has been involved with since we came to Phoenix in the early 70s. On many days, we would harvest oranges and grapefruits from the trees around my home and enjoy some splendid, fresh-squeezed citrus juice while sitting pool-side enjoying the divine beauty of a cool, sunny day with a slight breeze in my beloved home, Phoenix, Arizona!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to give a major shout out to my “two mothers” — Mother Teresa of Calcutta and my dearly departed mother Philomena Josephine Clarke. Both of these people have a had a major impact on my life and served as inspiration for the creation of Pax Philomena. To understand the importance of these people in the Pax story, I want to share a bit of my personal background. As I was born in Calcutta, India I grew up hearing stories about about Mother Teresa, as her first home for the poor was right around the corner from our home in Calcutta. My Aunt was a Loreto nun and knew Mother Teresa and helped her with taking care of orphans. I started Pax Philomena with the goal to honour my mother Philomena who taught me all I know about colour and design, and also to give back. I decided that Mother Teresa’s Mission was a good cause that was close to my heart. When we came to America it was not easy so I know what it means to struggle in life and I am happy that thru Pax Philomena with our donations to Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity here in Phoenix, Arizona we help the poorest of the poor. Mother Teresa said that “Peace begins with a smile.” I feel that my colourful clothing makes people smile, and spreads peace as well. I also want to shout out my beloved Aunt Jean Lobb who has been a major supporter of me and my passions for my entire life and especially over the past few years. Although she recently passed, her spirit is a strong part of the Pax Philomena legacy.