We wanted to introduce you to Julie of Julie Stephens Designs, a Melbourne Jewellery Designer who makes gorgeous jewellery featuring fine silver metal clay, wire and semi-precious beads and stones to create pieces which are simple, classic and a little bit boho
Tell us a little about your background and what made you embark on your journey to be a Melbourne Jewellery Designer.
Jewellery-making is a natural extension of all the making and crafting I’ve done over the years. Ever since I was a child I’ve loved to create, in whatever form took my fancy at the time. I’ve tried my hand at drawing, painting, ceramics and mosaics. I think my mum passed on the crafting gene to me. She taught me to knit, crochet and sew, although I was a terrible knitter! I used to make most of my own clothes, which I really enjoyed, but there’s no time in my life for that anymore!
I’ve had a fantastic career in Public Relations, which is a different kind of creative pursuit and a very demanding one that necessitated putting aside the part of me that loves to make for quite a few years. Then, about five years ago I ‘discovered’ beading, thanks to one of my sisters, and the wonderful world of jewellery-making opened up to me, becoming my new creative obsession.
What is your favourite thing about being a maker/artist/small biz?
I’ve been in small businesses of my own for about 15 years and I do love being my own boss – being in control of the total operation and decision-making is very liberating. From a creative business perspective, I become totally engrossed in the making side of things. I really enjoy sketching out ideas and can seriously lose track of time when I’m drawing. I get a thrill when I put my creative energy into a piece of jewellery and then find that someone really loves it as much as I do, enough to buy it! It’s validation that people like my style, but it also means I’m making things that people want to wear, which is important in creating a viable business.
What is the hardest thing about being a maker/artist/small biz?
I’ve run my own PR consultancy for several years and, as I had had 12 years of experience in working for consultancies before I started my business, I hit the ground running with confidence and knew what I was doing. With my jewellery business, however, I’ve found it’s unchartered territory for me and I’m having to find new ways to work productively. I’m still learning how to make it work – how to juggle the business and marketing side of things, being efficient and productive with my time, while also allowing myself time for creativity and making. That’s the challenge for me. I’m also having to upskill in areas where previously I’d hire a professional! such as photography and social media, so I can do these tasks on a daily basis myself.
As a child, what did you want to be “when you grew up”
I always wanted to be a fashion designer, but that unfortunately didn’t happen. My career took a different direction, which has been great, but it’s really nice to be coming back to doing what I love.
What inspires you? Who & what are your influences?
I’m inspired by the beach, nature and my travels. My husband and I love to travel and I find new cultures, architecture, food and people inspire me creatively.
What are you working on? What are your future plans for your craft?
Metal clay gives me the opportunity to play around with textures and create unique pieces that are very wearable. I love metal clay for its possibilities and I feel like I’ve only just begun the journey of learning what I can do with it. I plan to explore more stone-setting options and see where that takes me – it’s an area I’m very interested in. I want to start introducing more complex, layered pieces, and try a patina on some of the textural pieces.
Why did you choose in.cube8r? What do you hope to accomplish as a cuber?
As a Melbourne Jewellery Designer I love the opportunities that in.cube8r provides to new designers. I could never have established a retail presence like it on my own. It provides a great opportunity to get your new brand out into the market, and to receive first-hand customer feedback. I love the vibe, the creativity and the wonderful community of staff, artists and designers who are really supportive of each other.
Is your small business a hobby? a side hustle? Or your full time gig?
Currently I am still working in Public Relations on a part time basis, so my jewellery is a side hustle, although I can see it taking over at some stage in the future.