Breegan Jane: Designing New Visions for Work and Family

By Cassandra Lane

breegan jane

Breegan Jane’s sons, Kingsley, 4, and Kensington, 2, shower her with kisses. PHOTO COURTESY BREEGAN JANE

In 2014, Breegan Jane had the kind of wedding that inspires dreams. With glowing skin and an adorable baby bump, she wore a gorgeous sand-colored gown as she and her groom stood barefoot on the beach. But since the couple’s marriage and Leona, a restaurant they owned, fell apart a few years later, she has spent her time fashioning a new life for herself, her sons and her work.

An interior designer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and co-host of the DASH radio show “MOM LIFE YO” with T Lopez, she balances her multiple roles with raising her sons, Kingsley, 4, and Kensington, 2. And, she is back on the restaurant scene, as the designer of “Top Chef” contestant Nyesha Arrington’s Native, a restaurant in Santa Monica.

We are so excited to have you and your sons grace the cover of L.A. Parent this month! You were on the cover when you were a little girl—tell us about that.

Yes! It was in 1990. I was 5 when I started modeling as a kid. My mom had a clothing store back then, and her customers encouraged her to let her kids model. I was actually on the cover twice—once with two other kids—and then in a single shoot.

Did you first begin developing your sense of design and style through your mom’s clothing store?

breegan jane

Breegan Jane sits at the bar of a restaurant she designed, Native, in Santa Monica. PHOTO BY MANOLO LANGIS

My mom had the clothing store for a few years when I was young, but there’s a creative aspect of her that’s always been there. She makes beautiful mosaics. I grew up in a home where crafts and projects were a part of my daily life, and that expression was really encouraged. Our house was a salmon-pink color, and when I got older, I asked her why she chose that color, and she said, “Oh you don’t remember? You picked that color out when you were 5.” I think her allowing me to make choices like that helped me learn that [in design] you can experiment, make mistakes and learn from them.

You’re grew up in L.A.—have you lived anywhere else?

I was born and raised here. Grew up in Hermosa Beach, but I did live in Austin for three years, and I’ve traveled a lot. [L.A.] is where my heart has always been. Being a mixed kid, growing up in the industry and having exposure to a wealth of colors and cultures and ethnicities, and a wide range of socioeconomic pockets in L.A., I realized how spoiled I was in having the ability to connect with so many different kinds of people.

We love the look of your design at Native—all the teals, deep blues and gold accents. What is your approach to design?

Thank you! There is a very feminine part of me that comes out in design. I can’t get away from the gold. For me, design and my love for it comes from the creative aspect of wanting to create a sense of home. Being from L.A., being an adopted kid, being the oldest of [three kids], a mixed girl with Caucasian parents, I don’t fit into anyone’s box. But I want to create spaces that anyone can live in and enjoy. My feeling of home is something that doesn’t look one particular way—like L.A. I want anyone to walk in here [Native] and feel like it’s part of their living room. Going back to L.A. being my roots and this restaurant being called Native… it was cultural representation in all areas.

You owned a restaurant before, but with this one you decided to focus on design instead of being the owner.

I ran [Leona] about a year, but my marriage and the restaurant didn’t last. I learned a lot, and it’s amazing to reassess what I enjoy about being a professional entrepreneur. With this new restaurant, I get to work with the same chef and partner, Nyesha Arrington, who was with me at [Leona]. I realize that the design is what I truly love. Knowing Nyesha and the caliber of her food [inspired] the design. She’s this great mix of elevated culinary experience, but also super approachable. We wanted Native to look somewhat luxurious, but feel so comfortable. Native is set a little bit below street level, so I went with a black tin roof as a way of leaning into its challenges.

Speaking of challenges, I read a story recently where you discussed people treating you differently as a single mom.  

Being treated differently now that I’m a single mom—it’s hit me in the face, and it’s hurtful. People want to put all these weird labels on me, but I reject the box. [As a boss], I’ve been able to hire two moms with [babies], and one didn’t have childcare. I said, ‘Screw childcare. Bring the baby with you. So long as you get your work done, I don’t care how you do it.’ I took the risk because I saw myself, and I’m telling you, they’re the best employees I’ve had. We’ve had a mom bouncing her baby on her hip while she’s in a meeting, but she was totally listening and taking notes. We’ve shown up to construction sites with babies…and we meet every deadline. It’s empowering.

Tell us about your co-hosted radio show, “MOM LIFE YO.”

When your kids are born, it rocks your world. I felt a lack of support to make mistakes and feel ok about those mistakes. For example, I hated breastfeeding, [but] there weren’t open conversations in my community. Starting the show happened as I was getting divorced. When I felt like I didn’t have a voice, I became a voice on the radio. I’m willing to be vulnerable if it will help support other moms. Reading blogs is great, but we’re so busy as moms, so having these conversations makes sense in an audio format. People can listen as they’re driving in L.A.

What are your plans for this Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is a day that in my shift from a married mom to a single mom has felt different. When you’re married, your partner celebrates you and you kind of are spoiled for the day. The shift for me now is that I have to do that for me, and the hardest thing for us as moms is to take care of ourselves. I have to lean into the uncomfortableness of planning the day. Mother’s Day is a big deal at school, and my boys will make something for me… It’s a day where the three of us spend it together.

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