I’ve been overdosing on Instagram lately. Seriously. Just when I start to wonder if it’s gone to unhealthy extremes, I stumble across a beautiful feed that turns into a new kindred-spirit sister-friend and all my faith in Instagramming as a permanent (necessary) fixture in life is renewed. I met Katie Dean of Katie Dean Jewelry this way only a few short months ago. She left some lovely comments on my pictures, and when I browsed her feed and checked out her shop, I fell in love. She’s sweet as can be, stunningly gorgeous, uber talented and stylish, and has made quite a name for herself in the jewelry world. Her pieces have been worn by all kinds of celebrities and have popped up in shows like Parenthood and Glee! [I passed out a little when I saw them in Parenthood. Tad bit obsessed with that show.] Basically, GO GIRL!!
Katie’s style is such a perfect mix of bold and understated. She creates adorable, on-trend statement pieces as well as chic, delicate basics that you’ll want to live in. I’ve completely fallen for the Wrap Arrow Mid-Ring and the Light As A Feather Earrings as dailies, and when I want to go more playful or edgy, the Wise Warrior Necklace and the Forever & Always Bracelets have become true favorites. [All pictured in this post!]
[How adorable is that gal??]
Now for an interview with the one and only Katie Dean, and then the giveaway! (Katie is giving away two $50 gift certificates to KatieDeanJewelry.com! Details after the interview!)
What inspired you to start a jewelry line?
I’ve always been an artist — drawing, painting, sculpting and so much more. But I never felt like those subjects fully clicked for me or fulfilled my visions of what I wanted to create. Then one day, about 2 years ago, I started making jewelry as an arts and crafts project and it made me so happy! At first it was purely for fun, but as I started to wear the jewels, people were asking me where I got them and I literally sold my first few pieces right off my own wrist. It was such an amazing feeling to know that my creations were going out into the world and making other people happy too. From that day on, I was hooked and never looked back!
What style or mood influences your designs most?
I’m influenced by so many styles and moods!! It’s hard to narrow it down, but I will say that I’m all about a colorful, laid back Moroccan-ish style mixed with a bit of glam and the fashion forward looks that are ever-changing. I think all my designs evoke a bit of a Mid-Western feel, though. I grew up in Michigan, and I’ll always have a love for the modern cowgirl look. It just feels like home.
Describe a typical workday.
This is my favorite part of being my own boss!! I love being able to plan my own day.
First, I’ll wake up and stay in bed for 30-35 minutes surfing Instagram and Pinterest. I love starting the day by browsing beautiful and inspiring images. It pushes me to keep creating and thinking out the box.
Next, I’ll go for a walk around my beloved neighborhood reservoir, the Silverlake Res. It’s one of my favorite things to do.
Then I’ll get a latte at another local favorite, Broome Street General. I’ll usually bring my to-do list from the day before and create a new one.
After that, I head back to my at-home studio and get to work. This can cover everything from making pieces for orders that need to go out, to designing new ones, running them over to stylists or photo shoots, chatting with my new creative friends and old friends about potential collaborations, and trying to get caught up on my emails, haha! Of course, I’m all about the social media, so I’m forever taking pictures of things that I think are beautiful and working with my KDJ girls to create fun posts that show our jewels in fun, interesting and beautiful ways. The day ebbs and flows between those things and stays pretty busy until the evening. I’ll sneak in a trip to the beach, an afternoon movie, or an outing with my girls to get our nails done if things have been non-stop for a while. One of the most important things for me as an artist (and as the force behind KDJ) is to make each day an adventure. I like to do new things and take time to enjoy all of the beauty in life!
Did you hit any major roadblocks in the beginning phases of launching KDJ? How did you get past them?
I did hit some roadblocks! At first it was time. I was working 40-50 hours a week and jewelry was my side gig. There was a constant struggle between needing sleep and my mind going non-stop with ideas for new pieces. I was getting up at 6:30 every morning and working until about 7-8pm. I was exhausted, but when I would get home and start creating, I would be reinvigorated and before I knew it, it was 3am and I had to wake up in 3.5 hours to do it all over again! To anyone who is going something similar, my advice is to really look at your life and what makes you happy. If there are things you’re doing that aren’t contributing to where you want to go, maybe put those on hold and focus on your passion. Give it as much time and energy as you can muster, and surround yourself with good people who support and encourage you to keep going. I couldn’t have made it to where I am now without the love and help of my friends and family.
The next barrier was a good one. Lots of orders started coming in and I was struggling with the logistics of how to keep my supplies in stock. That was when I decided it was time to get organized. Learning time management was crucial because it helped me eliminate needless tasks like making extra trips to the bead store, etc. Getting organized is a must if you want to be successful, so start early!
The last obstacle I had to overcome was learning how to stay true to my vision as an artist. When you have a good thing going, people will want to help you, which is great! Teaming up with people who wanted to help wasn’t a bad thing and I couldn’t have done it alone, but it can be a hindrance. I was new to the ‘business’ game at the time, and wasn’t the best at deciphering whether or not a partnership was meant to be. Needless to say, this was a barrier in the blossoming stages of KDJ, but I was able to get through it and keep my business going by getting honest about my brand, where the company was going, how I wanted to do it and who I wanted to do it with. My advice to anyone starting a new venture is to get a journal and write down your goals and what kind of business you want to be. Then detail what kind of people you want on your team, focusing on personality types and skill sets. This will definitely help you to stay on track.
What’s the most exciting thing that has happened with KDJ over the last year?
Oh man!! This is a really tough one! I think going to NYC and expanding KDJ on the East Coast was the biggest highlight of 2013.
Which of your own pieces are in your regular accessory rotation?
Right now, the Fantasia Ring and Athena Ring are regulars. Also the Gold Fever Hand Piece. The Audrey Necklace/Bracelets and the One Love Mid-Rings are some of my everyday staples. I love me some statement pieces, but on a daily basis I usually wear the daintier jewels.
One quirky thing about you that not many people know is…
When “Happy” by Pharrell comes on, I can’t help but get up and dance and sing along to it!
Are you a regular at any local food/coffee spots? What are they?
YESSSS!!!!! I have so many favorite local spots!!! I love these places and frequent them often…
Broome Street General Store - amazing coffee
Lamill - also coffee
Casbah Cafe - more coffee & treats!! haha!
Cafe Stella - a romantic, french bistro. So relaxing and yummy.
Canele - amazing environment, very reminiscent of NYC
Gingergrass - yummy food
Flore - vegan food — BEST cinnamon rolls ever!!
SAGE - vegan — BEST beet root tacos in the world. I recommend getting the shells soft
Local Silverlake Farmers Market
What are your wardrobe staples right now?
My Coated Denim in Lip Lock (maroon) by Black Orchid – LOVE!! They dress up everything and look so chic whether they’re paired with a t-shirt or dressy sweater.
My denim button-down blue collar shirt from Urban Outfitters – I wear this almost EVERYDAY!!!
My black leather booties from Madewell – the most comfortable boots with a heel that I’ve ever had and they match everything!
My maroon hat from HEISS – I always grab it as I’m running out the door. It adds a great pop of color to any outfit.
My black leather motorcycle jacket from ZARA - I get SOOO many compliments on this jacket. A huge fav!!
My white v-neck tee from StyleMint - The softest t-shirt I’ve ever had. I love it because it’s comfortable, flattering and I can throw it on with anything.
Any of my JUNIM dresses – My friend is the designer and owner of this amazing line and I’m OBSESSED with everything she creates.
What’s next for Katie Dean Jewelry?
We have so much on the horizon!!! Lots and lots of travel coming up. I’ll be in San Francisco on March 15 at the beautiful BellJar Boutique doing a trunk show. Come out and say hello if you’ll be in the area!! On March 20th, I’ll be in Grand Rapids, MI (my hometown!) at the cutest Cheeky Strut doing a trunk show from 5-9 with a live band and yummy treats. Please stop by and get yourself some new jewels! And then the weekend of April 5th and 6th, we’ll be in NYC at QUINN Boutique doing a two-day event! Hopefully we’ll be in Kentucky soon to do something fun with O+I!!!
I’m constantly designing new pieces, so we’ll have a new collection coming out in the next month or so as well. There’s so much more that we have going on, so please follow along with me on KDJ’s ever expanding journey. Introduce yourself over on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter! I’d love to meet you!
Now for the giveaway(s)! You have a chance to win one (or both) of two $50 gift certificates to KatieDeanJewelry.com! The first can be won by entering using the Rafflecopter widget below! The second can be won by following @katiedeanjewelry and @tifforelie on Instagram and regramming the giveaway image that’s been posted on both of our feeds [shown below]! The winners will be announced on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter later next week. Good luck!!