Thursday, September 30, 2010

Interview with a Fashion Design Student

I recently completed an interview with a fashion design student from the Art Institute of Vancouver. Sharlyn is an aspiring designer, and invited ecocessories to be a part of her magazine project for class. I tried to impart some words of wisdom, and thought you might be interested in reading the interview too! Enjoy!

Sharlyn: When did you know that jewelry design is what you wa
nted to get into and what influenced this?

Jessica: In 2007 I graduated from business school in Ontario, and flew out West to get in touch with my creative roots. I've always been an artist, but had yet to find the medi
um that inspired me the most! I knew Vancouver, with all it's natural beauty and artistic communities, would be the perfect spot for me to explore my creativity. I was working at the North Shore News and a co-worker was designing jewelry as a hobby. She taught me a few techniques and everything spiraled from there.

Since living in B.C. I had been really focused on living an "eco" lifestyle
, so I knew if I launched a company I wanted it to be eco-friendly as well. One day, the concept for ecocessories hit me - I realized that instead of purchasing new materials, I could rely on recycled jewelry to use materials that already exist in this world. I went home and disassembled every piece of jewelry I had! I also knew that I wanted the new designs I make to be high quality. I enrolled in a silversmithing course at North Vancouver Continuing Education and studied under a local silversmith.

Sharlyn: Did your first go at making jewelry turn out well?

Jessica: I'd say so! I started revealing my designs to family and friends and the positive response was overwhelming, and exactly the motivation I needed to keep going. However, it certainly hasn't been an easy road. It's constantly a balancing act between my creativity and my inner business woman. I have to be conscientious about managing the business side of things, when in all honestly I'd love to just design jewelry all day!

These first couple years of operating have been a learning curve to find out what works for my jewelry business too. I started out selling at shows, which was great for marketing and exposure. I was able to get feedback on my designs directly from customers, and learned to be a better designer. However, shows are expensive and in some cases I just broke even making it hard to get ahead. If I could do it all over again, I think I'd try to establish a client base first and then attend the shows, but that is just me. For some other designers shows are great. It's all about finding what works for you, and not just pursuing something because others are. You have to stay true to your own abilities and resources, and sometimes be able to look at an opportunity and just say no, because of timing, fit, or whatever.

Sharlyn: Where do you get your inspiration?

Jessica: My main inspiration comes from the recycled jewelry that I work with. ecocessories has a jewelry recycling service that takes in old, broken, unwanted jewelry from women across Canada. This is the sole source of material for my designs, besides the n
ew silver that I use. This means that I am limited to the recycled materials that comes to me - but this is also the most exciting part! I love the challenge of making a design work with just the recycled beads I have, or perhaps making adaptations to reflect the materials.

For my seasonal collections I am inspired by the environment and current fashion trends. As an artist, I look at the world in detail. I see the beauty in the finest details of nature, and I identify colours and shapes that aren't so obvious. For Spring/Summer 2010 my inspiration was water, in it's many shapes and forms. This inspired the colour palette I worked with - aqua blues, coral pinks, seaweed greens etc. I also really pay attention to what is happening in fashion, and what colours seem to be represented each season, because of course I want my jewelry to work with what is in style, although most pieces do end up with a timeless appeal.

Sharlyn: Do you have a muse?

Jessica: I don't know that I exactly have one muse, but I try to stay in touch with my inner voice and my spirit guides. I believe in the spiritual world, and that each of us has spirits that help us make decisions and succeed on certain paths in our lives. For me I
just try to trust in the direction I'm heading and that everything happens for a reason. I try to take disappointments, acknowledge them, and then continue on knowing that I'm supposed to be headed where I am. If I am stuck on a design, or an important business decision, sometimes it just takes a few days of reflection to identify what the answer may be. Life can certainly be frustrating, especially working as an artist, designer, and/or independent business person, but it's important to always trust your instincts and stay true to yourself!

Sharlyn: What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?

Jessica: Honestly just believe in yourself, have confidence, and always follow your passion. The more confidence you have in your ideas, the more others will want to support you! And this is the one thing that only you have control over. If you are wishy washy about what you are doing, or constantly seeking the approval of others before you make progress, it will show. I believe that our energy goes in to the things we are creating, and so it's important to reflect on what attitude you have while designing, because that attitude could affect how that piece sells, or the success of that certain collection.

As a designer, you need to realize you are doing something way more interesting than the majority of people in this world! Use that to your advantage. People will want to hear about your product, your progress etc. because it's different from what 90% of the population is doing with their lives. I try not to focus on weaknesses - sure I have them and every day really can be an uphill battle, but if someone asks about my designs or my business I just focus on the positive, and the lessons learned. People will always think it is easier than it is, and that used to frustrate me (do they not know how many hours I spent on that piece?! how my fingers were raw from bending that wire?! how I almost torched my hair soldering that clasp?!), but I try to let it slide. They just see something beautiful and the end, and it's up to you to defend your design's value and not take anything too personally.

Sharlyn: And if there is any other information you would like to share it would be greatly appreciated :)

Jessica: There is ALWAYS room for more design, beauty and art in this world. Don't ever think for one minute that because there are a lot of others out there doing what you are doing, that you shouldn't pursue this too. Your vision will be uniquely yours, and that is a wonderful thing! There will always be someone leaving the design world, and that just means it's time for you to slide on in! Good luck!!

Visit ecocessories™ to shop for recycled bead & sterling silver one-of-a-kind designs.

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