Badass Babe’s Jenn Mayrand handmakes one-of-a-kind statement jewelry pieces from spent ammunition in her shed in Creston.
By Linda Jaquette. Photograph by Mandy Mohler of Field Guide Designs.
Jenn Mayrand was born in a small town in northern Illinois to a math teacher mother and electrical engineer father. Jenn refers to her family as very cerebral and non-athletic compared to her. They used to joke that she was brought by aliens and that her brother was brought by the police. Her early curiosity about everything and her desire to learn more about how things work was an indication of things to come.
If one thing rings true with Jenn, it’s that she’s not a city girl. She loves the wilderness and doesn’t like crowds. Before 1996, she had made five trips to Montana, visiting the North Fork of the Flathead River each time. She fell in love with the area and made friends with John Fredericks, who operated the North Fork Hostel. She told John if he ever needed a caretaker to give her a call. In 1996 he did.
She packed up her belongings and headed to Montana. Come winter she found that the beautiful, scenic wilderness of the North Fork brings with it a lot of challenges for a person living alone during the snowy months. Most of the time she was the only person within a 10-mile radius.
Jenn drove a 1965 Chevy pickup with the choke on the dashboard, and plowed snow in a 1957 Ford Ferguson tractor with a blade on the back that had to be manually adjusted. She learned to use a brush torch to heat up pipes and to start the generators so there would be water. Chopping and splitting wood, using an outhouse, and clearing snow from roofs and roads were all part of her routine. Jenn readily admits it was tough, but wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. She says the survival skills and the challenges have enabled her to cope with whatever life brings her way.
In spite of her passion for the North Fork, after a year it was back to civilization in Whitefish. The next couple of years found Jenn wearing many hats. She did construction and learned to tan hides. She worked as a hospital administrator. She started a landscaping business and took a position at the County landfill overseeing the maintenance of the green-box container sites.
Badass Babe came to fruition when she saw a pair of spent-round earrings her sister-in-law was wearing. Jenn liked them a lot. She went home and googled bullet jewelry on the internet. This brought her a wealth of ideas. She decided she could not only make this jewelry herself, but make it better then what was online. She embraced the name “Badass Babe” because a lot of her friends often referred to her as one. To her, it meant independent, unconventional, daring, and bold.
Badass Babe jewelry premiered at the 2014 Kalispell Gun Show. It was wildly successful. So much so, it has expanded from jewelry to T-shirts, keychains, lip balm, and other accessories.
The findings she uses for the jewelry are locally sourced whenever possible, or supplied by independently owned businesses in the USA. Badass Babe merchandise proudly sports the Made in Montana logo and the Made in the USA emblem. Because some of the language on a few of her products is deemed a little strong, Jenn requires parental approval to sell this particular merchandise to minors.
Badass Babe is now a little over four years old and still growing. Never one to sit on her laurels, Jenn premiered two new lines this September. One is called “Found.” Each “Found” piece is unique and handmade by Jenn using a variety of different materials such as copper patina, other metals, precious stones, and even feathers, from American birds of course. The other line, “Bad Jenny Goods,” is described as sassy, snarky, (sometimes sweary), handmade jewelry and home goods.
What’s really incredible about this business is that Jenn is not just the owner and boss, but is also the only employee. Her workshop is a remodeled shed at her home.
In spite of apparently working 24/7, Jenn finds time for her family too. She’s been happily married to her husband James for six years. They live in Bigfork and have three fur kids: two German Shorthairs and one fat, old Labrador Retriever.
What does Jenn foresee in the future for Badass Babe? “Growth. I would like to have Badass Babe in markets across the whole United States.”
When asked what she does when she’s not working her response was, “I like working and making things all the time. I like the way people react when they see my creations.”
Badass Babe, Found, and Bad Jenny products are available at Flair Boutique, 123 Main Street in Kalispell, Montana, or online: www.badassbabeusa.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/badassbabeusa/.
About the Author: Linda Jaquette is the Development Assistant for Citizens for a Better Flathead. She lives in Columbia Falls.