Monday, October 5, 2009

Interview with Ladies Lotto

How long have you been a Ladies Lotto member and has it had a positive affect on what you're doing?
A close friend of mine in NYC, Betsey McLain, suggested that I get involved with Ladies Lotto a little over a year ago. I think LL provides a supportive network of professionals and entrepreneurs who are proactive in the community. I’ve become friends with some stylish, sophisticated women and discussed ideas for future initiatives and events to grow the Chicago network.

While I'm sure you had to learn the craft, what made you want to go the official route and study gemology?
I think it’s important to understand all aspects of jewelry if you’re working in the industry. I studied gemology and diamond grading so that I could identify and authenticate diamonds and colored stones. While this may not apply to my current collections, customer referrals have made custom work a growing part of my business. Knowledge is key in servicing my custom order clients in creating the personal piece they envision that’s priced within their budget.

Your pieces are inspired by nature and are very delicate, sweet and feminine. Do you think this will always be your aesthetic or do you see yourself moving in another direction?
I think this style best fits the brand I’m trying to create with Julia Failey jewelry. Custom orders present exciting creative challenges and give me an opportunity to deviate from the current aesthetic in my line.

You offer a unique service where you work in conjunction with brides to design special pieces for their bridesmaids. That's an awesome and thoughtful idea. Why did you decide to add it to your services?
I love having the opportunity to work with clients in creating memorable gifts for a special occasion. I’ve worked with boyfriends in creating Engagement Rings, provided brides with jewelry for bridesmaids, and designed wedding sets for fianc├ęs. I recently expanded into cuff links, which make great groomsmen gifts!

There's been a huge push recently for all things eco-friendly, but this was an important issue to you from the beginning. Where did that come from?
My grandmother was my fashion muse and model environmental philanthropist. She once wrote me ‘My father felt it was important to find enjoyment in little things and I try to remember his view.’ My grandmother opened my eyes to the beauty in all things great and small, and I hope to carry her legacy through my work.

Those who know me well can attest to the fact that I’ve always been passionate about art and the environment. As a youngster, I spent most of my time outside—climbing trees, building forts, capturing ‘glow bugs’ and, on occasion (and with the best intentions), building a shoebox nest to nurture a fallen bird back to health. My pursuits in art/fashion were spawned when I started integrating pop art elements (splatter paint on Keds was all the rage) and found objects into clothing and jewelry. Many years have passed, but those developmental years set the stage.

To add to that, tell us about some of the causes and organizations that you support.
I am active within organizations that share my commitment to the environment, and I serve on the Executive Committee of the Auxiliary Board at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago. 10% of every sale in our Butterfly Collection goes to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, inspiring people to learn about and care for nature and the environment.

I partnered with MANuary by creating customized cufflinks to benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation. 100 percent of the net proceeds from the sale of these cufflinks goes directly to the cause. Visit my website to read the story on how my friends, Tom Murphy and Ryan Hutto, started and inspired MANuary.

I am donating 20% of Lotus Flower Collection in Rose sales to Breast Cancer Network of Strength®, an organization dedicated to ensuring no one faces breast cancer alone. Proceeds from sales will be made throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month to help increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention and cure. You may learn more on my blog.

What do you hope to accomplish with your jewelry and your environmental efforts?
My jewelry intends to remind us of the subtle beauty that surrounds us and raise awareness of our connections to our environment. I challenge myself to find unique and intriguing ways to reflect intricate details and movements in nature in my designs. My concern for the preservation of our natural resources is reflected in my designs, choice of materials and sustainable business practices. I create ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’ jewelry because environmental appreciation is integrated in my beliefs and business mission.