Friday, July 8, 2016

Do You Follow The Herd, Or Do You Dare To Be Original (Read: Be Yourself) And Light Up That Inner Beauty!

I became a jewelry designer without trying to be one. My lovely younger sister Wendy gave birth, way to early, to a little boy that weighed one pound. The months following his birth were very difficult, a few times we thought she might lose her son. But guess what... after 3 months in the incubator, she brought home a healthy, beautiful boy, and named him Joris. He is doing fantastic!

Joris, one week old, weighing one pound

Wendy's birthday was coming up and I wanted to celebrate both events by giving her something special. I had made a drawing of a design I wanted a jeweler to make for me in silver. This was early summer 2010. Recession had taken my job and I could not afford the price of a silver design. So I decided to make a necklace myself, with a locket for his picture on one side and my design drawing at the other. It became a 2-part necklace, one with colored beads, the other silver with charms. The supplies I had found all over town in different stores, and I was amazed at what was available, a whole new world opened up for me.
 
Wendy & Joris, Valentine's Day 2015
All the people that got to see my very first necklace, told me that it was a really beautiful piece, that I had talent and that I should make jewelry for a living. Since there were no other job prospects at the horizon at that time, I jumped in. I spent my savings on supplies and started making jewelry. It was hard at first, I couldn't really find my 'voice' but when I discovered a fantastic supply store, I got a lot closer to the designs I wanted to make. 

I opened my store, House Of Joris Jewelry, on Etsy in October 2010, having made 25 jewelry designs. Etsy was still cool in 2010/2011, they weren't overrun by thousands of jewelry stores and they weren't the corporate giant yet that they are now. Within a few months I sold pretty good and I loved my newly discovered passion. 
Coco, my first pair of earrings!
My first wholesale account came November, 2012. I was on a roll, but in January of 2013 I had an accident and was told I couldn't work for about a year. This was a real tough year. But later in 2014, I started making a new jewelry inventory and tried another way of doing business. I took the jewelry off-line and went to the very popular South Congress Market, here in Austin, and at that market, I learned a lot about people. And I also learned that I need to get back online and get my store and web presence, back in order.

The South Congress market has about 70% jewelry vendors, lots of competition you think of course. But then, as you browse around and check out your fellow jewelry vendors, you notice something. And that something is that all these jewelry vendors are selling the exact same thing! Pieces that are trendy right now, and oh yeah, it sells! Right now, on trend, the layering necklaces, with delicate charms and the long necklaces with the slice of stone. The friendship bracelets and the leather wrap arounds. The large cocktail rings and the bangles. 

I mean, it is all the same stuff and people are lining up to buy it, while the same people would come to my tables and compliment me on everything I make, touching it and trying it on, looking gorgeous, I could see the appreciation in their eyes, then the hesitation, one more turn around to the stand with the trendy jewelry and with a sigh they would put my handmade jewelry back on the table.

Siren Bracelet
But then, every now and then, there she will come. Walking straight to my tables and trying on the things she likes. Elegant, confident woman, who loves to express her inner beauty and is not afraid to be different, or to stand out. She loves and celebrates being an individual with her own individual taste. She knows what looks good on her.

You know this type of woman, the one when she walks through the door, everybody notices her. And this woman would 9 out of 10 times buy at least 5 or 6 pieces of my jewelry. Not only because it is different and beautiful, but also because she is secure, knowing that if something breaks or goes wrong, she can come back to me and I will fix it, no extra charge, even if it has been 3 months (not that this happens often, just once actually).
Josephine's Amethyst Earrings
You see, I make almost exclusively OOAK pieces. For the ones who are not familiar with that term, it stands for one-of-a-kind piece. I say about 80% of my collection is OOAK. And I use quality materials, for crystals always Swarovski or vintage Czech, gemstones are grade AA or AAA, for plated chains, it is brass as a base metal, no lead or nickel. Pearls are vintage or Swarovski. Earwires are almost exclusively leverback earwires, and so on.

When I start working, I usually don't have the design in my head, it is my hands that lead me and start something all on their own and then my head catches up. And then it is so exciting to see the end result. I truly love making my jewelry.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not judging here, there is nothing wrong with wanting to follow the trends, playing it safe and wear what everyone else is wearing. Who am I to tell you what to wear? It is just that I see so often that longing in a woman's eyes, as she picks up the shoulder grazing Swarovski earrings, knowing they would look stunning in her ears. Why don't you? Why don't you go ahead and buy what you think is beautiful, not because it is trendy and everyone wears it. Why have fear, fear of other people, of what they say perhaps.
Bliss Necklace, all Swarovski and grade AA pearls

 I tell you what, if you wear a piece of jewelry in a color that you love, a unique piece that is timeless and you wear it with confidence, knowing that it looks good on you. 

When you do that, you are more in fashion and more on trend then all the women in line at the 'trendy' jewelry stand, all buying the same thing. You will be admired for just being you, yourself and nobody else. Because really, nothing is more sexy then being self-confident!