If you were a Clarabella follower, you already know about the lovely Jené DeSpain. We were first introduced by Honey in the Rough‘s Ashley Hanosh. They’d been friends out in San Francisco. At that time, Jené was still living out West. We got to know each other over the phone and from our very first call, I knew we’d be friends. We started out with a few orders and even did a special Valentine’s Day offer. Earlier this year, Jené moved from SF to NY, settling not far from me in Brooklyn. Sadly, because of tough timing, her getting settled and my shop closing efforts, we didn’t get much time to hang out. I did, however, always look forward to the days that she’d pop in to say hello. Jené is a true burst of sunshine. She’s always smiling, knows just what to say to turn your day around, and to top all of that off, she’s an extremely talented jewelry designer.
Just before the holidays, I sent Jené a few questions, the answers to which I’m happy to share with you here.
Just Plain Lovely: Where are you from?
Jené DeSpain: I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon
JPL: Where do you live now?
JD: I live in NYC, Brooklyn
JPL: What do you love most about your area?
JD: The endless possibilities. Everything is an adventure in NYC.
JPL: What about your city provides you inspiration for your craft?
JD: I just launched a new line called the Roaring 10’s. It’s a glamorous art deco collection inspired by the architectural masterpieces of NYC built during the 1920’s. These beautiful buildings are my favorites in NYC and each piece from the collection is named after these historical landmarks.
JPL: How long have you been practicing your craft?
JD: I’ve been making jewelry for almost 5 years now. Somehow that sounds like a long amount of time, but I discover new things about my work every day.
JPL: I’ve seen you work with casting, hand-hammered designs, feathers… Is there a particular medium you enjoy the most?
JD: Currently, I am making pieces from wax. This is a new technique for me. I am learning how to carve wax and shape it into my designs. I love the detail and time put into each piece. It takes days, weeks, to make one design, and I hope the joy I feel creating each new piece comes through in the jewelry.
JPL: Do you turn to friends and family for inspiration and have you ever designed a piece for someone in particular?
JD: I love making jewelry specifically for individual friends or family members. I just made my lil’ 18 month old niece her first necklace, which was really special. I have made jewelry for friend’s mothers, sisters, and grandmothers and I have had the lovely opportunity to create wedding pieces for some friends and their bridesmaids. Anytime I create something that is unique to the person receiving the jewelry is very special for me and completely inspiring.
JPL: The line that you were representing when we first met was based upon Islands – were they based upon places you’ve traveled to, or were they more of a wish-list of where you’d like to go?
JD: The concept for the Island Collection came about after I had made the Ellis necklace. It’s a single pillar of hammered gold with a delicate piece of sparkling blue topaz. The first thing I thought of when I saw the piece was the Statue of Liberty and her beacon of light. My love for all the islands of NYC, as well as multiple other islands that have been significant to my life became the story behind the collection.
JPL: What advice would you give up and coming designers?
JD: The main piece of advice that I would give to other designers is to find the elements of your craft that you do well and revel in the joy that they bring you. For the other aspects of your work, seek out people that know how to accomplish these things better than you can and hire them. 🙂
Author: Bill Mckibben
Musician: I have many, but lately my iTouch has been rockin the new Gossip album as well as Florence and the Machine.
Drink: water w/ lemon and stumptown coffee