I have always loved to help make the people around me feel beautiful, comfortable, and confident. An artist her entire life, she studied Fine Art and Art Metals throughout high school and attended a year of fashion school at the School of Fashion Design on Newbury St. Boston, MA. After beading and hand making headpieces from her Great Aunt’s jewelry, she started wanting to create beyond beading. After taking various metal-smithing classes at studios such as MetalWerx and Sanctuary Arts, and Fitzgerald Jewelry School, she came out with a unique line of jewelry hammered, drilled, shaped and hand cut from high-quality metals: The Bars&Angles line.
Much of the inspiration and success of the Bars&Angles line is due to my friends and family who product test the jewelry for me.
Bridal Jewelry is Oohjacquelina‘s specialty. Hair combs and Stud Earrings are made from sterling silver wire wrapping pearls and Swarovski elements along with some vintage finds from markets around the world. She was a bridal consultant at a high-end bridal boutique for 5 years. There she learned what brides were looking for by helping them plan their special day. She has had the honor to work with designers from JLM Couture and Alvina Valenta, Sadoni, and has had here jewelry worn by models from ti Adora by Alvina Valenta at several New York International Bridal Week shows and featured in their lookbook photo shoots for Fall and Spring of 2015 and 2016. Grammy winner and American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, Jesse Kahnweiler, Gloria Steinem, actresses Jena Malone, and Marisa Tomei have also rocked her jewelry to name a few!
Check Out My Q&A with the Talented Jacquelyn Wells
Natasha: What does jewelry mean to you?
Jacquelyn: To me, jewelry is my safe haven. Visually, jewelry is like icing on a cake. The cake is good without icing, but the icing adds so much just like jewelry does to a human being. A casual white t-shirt and worn out jeans can come alive with the right boho hoop earrings. A simple black dress can become a red carpet affair with the right gold statement necklace. On a spiritual level, making jewelry is therapeutic for me. It is time for me to be me and listen to some killer music or heavenly podcasts. On an artistic level, it is an outlet for my creativity where I can also make a living, and wear my art every day. So although jewelry isn’t a necessity in this life, and icing isn’t actually necessary on a cake, both only add to a simple thing, ie, my life and cake. No matter who you are, what size, shape, ethnicity, or walk of life, the most important thing in style is to be comfortable in what you wear. With or without jewelry, that is my motto. And in my case, with jewelry 😉
Natasha: When did you realize that you wanted to start your own business?
Jacquelyn: I always worked for other small family-run businesses throughout high-school and college. I saw how they created and ran their businesses and admired their freedom/ownership over their lives. I’d often think to myself, I’d like to do this one day. I am a free spirit and a creative mind. It’s difficult for me to work on a strict schedule or behind a computer. I am most productive and creative when I set my mind to something and do it on my own time and terms. Owning my own company was gradual. I started by making jewelry for fun, then slowly started selling it while working other part-time jobs, and then it became full-time. I’m so proud to be a small business owner.
Natasha: What are the keys to mastering jewelry design?
Jacquelyn: I have in no way mastered jewelry design. There are so many different types of jewelry that I’d love to learn to make that I don’t know how to, but in terms of designing my own jewelry, I always think: “Would I or others I know LOVE wearing this piece?” It’s not enough to just look and admire something from far away– would I or others I know ROCK it and feel comfortable and awesome while wearing it? That is how I design my jewelry and remain successful. Also, price point. Perceived value. And quality.
Natasha: What are things you wish you knew before you started your business?
Jacquelyn: Hmm. I wish I had gotten with an accountant early on to sort out how I was going to run my business, made a business plan and annual goals, and worked with a consultant to go over which pieces I should focus on and material wise, which pieces I was losing money on. Then I may have had more direction and focus earlier than I did. Also, what types of findings NOT to use because they were not the best quality. Learned that early on, the hard way.
Natasha: Are you telling a story through your jewelry? If so, what are these stories?
Jacquelyn: Looking back at the photos during my first couple of years making jewelry until now- yes- it is telling a story. Changes in my own personal style and the world’s trends are obvious in the photo progression, and things I’ve learned about metalsmithing, quality, and durability of pieces are also quite clear. I started out with my jewelry looking like a flea market (often the items were found at flea markets!). Now all of my lines are more clean cut, contemporary, and much higher quality.
Natasha: How important is customer feedback to you?
Jacquelyn: Speaking of mastering jewelry design- customer feedback is of utmost importance. I now test all of my jewelry on myself, on my mom and aunts, and on my friends. I inspect the piece after they wear it for a week or so. How is the metal doing in terms of shine and color? How is the chain, clasp, or wire holding up? How did the piece lie on the upper chest, did it lay flat or was it wobbling? I inspect the items and ask them how they felt wearing it. Did they even wear it? Or was it uncomfortable/unnatural? On another note, customers often write me letters after their weddings, review me on Etsy, or write me notes/comments on Facebook or through email. One girl said she cried when she opened the box to her custom bracelet which repurposed her grandmother’s pearls. Little do they know, each and every response makes my day. Even if it is once in awhile negative feedback, I need to know, and usually, it is due to the strength of a piece. That feedback always inspires me to change the design so that it will never happen again.
Natasha: Have your customers inspired new designs or collections?
Jacquelyn: I would say almost half of my jewelry is customer inspired. The customer will say a vague (or sometimes specific) idea of what they envision and I will make it happen. They usually come to me because they like my overall jewelry style. For a long time, my area of expertise was custom hair combs, inspired by different brides. Without the customer’s vision, it wouldn’t be nearly as special. Also, using customer feedback and inspiration, I know what real brides want and it will usually sell again. Sometimes if they do come to me with a not so attractive idea, I can nicely sway them towards something I think will compliment their look more, and/or make it in a way that I think will be beautiful. They are usually always quite thankful;) Often my own spin on their idea will be so beautiful that I will incorporate it into my collection permanently.
Natasha: How do you deal with insecurities, competition, or fear as you grow your business?
Jacquelyn: Having moments of insecurity and fear is part of doing anything interesting in life. A lot of famous actors say they won’t take a role unless it scares the **** out of them! I admire that, not to say I am anywhere near that caliber of art haha. There is a lot of jewelry out there and a lot quite similar to my ready-to-wear fashion line. Some much better, some made in factories in China. I can’t spend my time thinking about that, but focusing on making things that I know people will love to wear is what keeps me going and it’s easy to focus on just that alone! When comparing myself to other business owners, they inspire me. The ones who are out there killing it, I am so excited for them and look up to them and find it to be great for my drive to see others out there twerking it in the small biz world.
Natasha: What are resources that you turn to in your business?
Jacquelyn: Etsy has been a great resource, friend and customer feedback, but most of all fellow entrepreneurs, other jewelry designers. The people I’ve met in a similar line of work to me or in passing have been priceless as resources, and simply as friends to grab a beer with after work. Celebrating, collaborating, commiserating, selling side by side…it’s so much better when you have friends by your side doing the same entrepreneurial makers gonna make type work. It’s really inspiring and exhilarating when you’re all together!
Natasha: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs interested in the jewelry business?
Jacquelyn: The same advice was given to me by my old boss at a record label back when I was pursuing music and I asked him advice on becoming a musician. He said “Do you have something to say? Something different maybe, or important? Do you love it? That’s what will make you successful”. I don’t know if I follow this always or if others can, but my bridal line drives me because I know it is different, I know it is unique, and I know brides love to wear it, and I love making it. Do you have that passion for jewelry? Go for it.
Natasha: What is next for you?
Jacquelyn: Well, as for music, I need to get back to that! In terms of Oohjacquelina and my jewelry- I’d love to get to a place where I have a few more employees that I know and trust that can help me make these things and help me run the business side of Oohjacquelina. Shoes, apparel, evening wear…all things I’d love to get my hands into. For now, focusing on this Winter’s Holiday Market Nov 24-Dec 31 2017 in City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA! I will be working alongside my good friend Casey from Encore Apparel selling in a heated gingerbread house all day every day and making online orders like an elf all night! Excited about it. Come visit us.
Being able to speak with women like Jacquelyn Wells gives me life. She is a talented entrepreneur who embraced her passion and made it her life passion. Like Jacquelyn, living life on your terms is what we all can have. Don’t you agree?
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