Monday, April 11, 2011

women who inspire: julia winter of jewel-ya

Don't you just love sneaking a peek inside an artist's studio?  We had so much fun catching a glimpse behind the scenes with Julia Winter, the genius jewelry designer behind the amazing line Jewel Ya™.

 Where do you find your inspiration?
As an artist I am always looking to see what is next with the trends  and what seems interesting….all while holding true to my design instincts.  In designing I want to make sure that my collection pieces are crisp, simple, and sophisticated, yet edgy and easy to wear.  I design with my client in mind - a woman with confidence, kindness and attitude.  She is involved in much; easily transitioning from a business or charity event to a tennis match.  My designs have to layer well and be versatile, going from casual fun to professional and polished situations.   I love that one client can wear a necklace casually to a baseball game and another can layer the same design, making it the signature piece for her black tie gala.

Where did you get your start?
I started at quite a young age…..designing my first pair of earrings around  first or second grade.  I found round plastic beads and cut them open to create hoops.  I sold these door to door and took them to Sunday School to trade with the other girls.  I loved those earrings and had them in all colors –lots of variety just like my hoop collection now.  They were super cute but extremely uncomfortable (my current collection has been refined and are quite comfortable).   Those little plastic beads practically cut your ears in half when you wore them!  After that I took a break from designing and my selling and marketing skills became my focus.   I worked in retail starting at 15 years and  helped friends who were starting businesses making clothes.  In college I started working at IBM, and spent 17 years in corporate America learning all I could about business.  Later after the birth of my boys, when I was looking to change my profession and find a more flexible career, I started to think about what could I do all on my own.  At that time, jewelry design was becoming a fulfilling hobby.  My girlfriends and husband gave me lots of positive feedback and made me feel like I had something special to offer.  So, I realized if I pushed myself I would be able to create a successful venture.  As a result, I jumped in with both feet, and that was nearly 9 years ago!

What can you not go a single day without?
Wow-that’s a big question.  S0 many things come to mind.  Time with my family is most important.  My two sons (Will and Mac} and husband Matt would tell you that coffee would be a big one.  I love my morning coffee!   Exercise and prayer keep me grounded and help me keep perspective, so those are must too.  Finally, I enjoy ending the day with a glass of wine.

What is your tip for success?
I have two.  The first is something that I know has made a big difference in my personal and professional growth and where I find myself today; be persistent.  When you know you have something to offer, don’t take no for an answer.  I can remember several instances where no was not an option and the fact that I remained engaged and kept pushing forward opened new opportunities.  I believe it is a  delicate balance of persistence coupled with patience that always pays off.  The second tip is to surround yourself with people who are supportive and highly talented themselves.  This allows you to feel more confident and lifts you up during harder times.  Being around other positive people places  you in a position to continue learning, while creating a fun and energetic atmosphere.

How would you describe yourself?
I guess (by current standards) I am almost a middle aged woman (hmmm . . . I have never written that before) who is a mom, a friend, a mentor, a wife, the world’s best peanut butter and jelly maker (according to my boys), a list maker and enforcer (according to my husband Matt), and small business owner who is trying to decide how to best grow her business, all while balancing the demands of family and life in general.  My favorite exercise is running and I love a good steak and potatoes dinner! 

Why do you love Phoenix?
I  love Phoenix eight months out of the year because of the amazing weather.  I tolerate Phoenix in the summer because I know the amazing weather is coming back.  My friends think I am a little nuts because I track the weather quite closely…but it is one of the things I love.  I also love the people and the small town feel (despite the large city reality) of the Valley.  I find that no matter where I am in the Valley, someone I meet knows someone I’ve known forever, which makes our huge city seem quite small.  I love that everyone here is appreciated and comfortable being different.  That might be a sign of the times, but I feel the vibe around Phoenix is a lot about preserving a small town feel in our big city. 

What do you love most of all about your job?
Since starting Jewel Ya™, I have met and made some amazing friends.  My network has expanded exponentially because my business takes me to many locations for trunk shows and boutiques.  I feel truly lucky to have had these experiences and to have met so many wonderful people!  Long after I have made my last piece of jewelry, the friends made and experiences enjoyed will be a key part of who I am - one lucky gal!

Thanks, Julia!

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