During fashion week I met so many amazing designers. One of these wonderful designers is (drum roll please) Laura Coleman, the owner and designer of Turtle Neck Jewelry.
When I saw her stunning pieces, I was amazed. And after hearing that her line had a story and a larger purpose, I thought to myself, “I’d just love to show this my Deep Thinkers.”
Here’s the interview with the ever fabulous, socially conscious jewelry designer, whose pieces are truly a must-have. And for my deep thinking male readers, don’t fret – she’s coming out with a men’s line very soon.
At the end of this post, check out the giveaway where you can enter to win this fabulous bracelet: The Black and White Redux ($38.50 retail value).
How did you come across the name Turtle Neck Jewelry?
Well, I like turtles. They symbolize a lot of things that I have related to at some point in my life. They can hide in their shell – stick their neck out – and of course – Slow and steady wins the race. So when I was thinking about business names, I somehow wanted to incorporate the turtle into the name. When I started, I was exclusively making necklaces – and the name was born – Turtle Neck Jewelry. Of course, some folks think I make jewelry to wear with turtleneck sweaters.
What makes Turtle Neck Jewelry different from other jewelry brands?
First and foremost, we are committed to promoting sustainable economies for the many artists and cooperatives we support through the purchase of beads and materials. Without them – there is no Turtle Neck Jewelry. My hope is that the beauty of the beads and materials I feature in my designs will grab the attention of not only the wearer, but of everyone who sees the piece. I am constantly hearing from my customers “I always get compliments when I wear this piece”. And my hope is that they are passing along the story of the beads and the folks behind them to their admirers as well. Also, because every one of our featured beads is handmade from scratch, this means that every single piece of jewelry created by Turtle Neck Jewelry is unique. In addition to the Fair Trade beads, we also use all natural materials – no plastics, no synthetics. I think it’s a combination of all these factors which has helped us to carve our little niche in the fashion industry.
What does socially-conscious jewelry mean to you?
In a nutshell, it means recognizing that we are all sharing this planet, and at the very least, we should try to leave it a little better than we found it. Let’s face it. Nobody needs jewelry to survive. But by making an effort to purchase jewelry (and other items) that support Fair Trade, Eco-Friendly, or Socially Responsible manufacturing methods, we can satisfy our fashion desires AND we become part of the cycle of giving back – which as corny as it may sound – makes the planet a better place for us all.What do you like about the piece of jewelry you’re giving away to one lucky deep thinker?
The Black and White Redux bracelet has beads from several places including Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Guatemala, Italy and even the USA! Like many of my pieces it is bold and funky and fun to wear. And because it’s black and white – it goes with any and everything! How did you uncover your passion for creating jewelry?
I started designing jewelry as a stress reliever while working in my first career as a fundraiser for non-profit organizations. I went to a local bead shop where I was completely overwhelmed with the hundreds of thousands of beads they had hanging from the walls! I immediately sat down and started beading, and never looked back. What have you learned as a designer and about the business?
While it’s important to keep an eye on industry standards for some things, I’ve learned early on never to put too much stock in “what’s in” or” seasonal”. Jewelry is a very personal thing, and folks are going to wear what makes them feel good, regardless of whether the fashion police say it’s passé or in vogue. It’s important that your designs stay true to what defines you, your mission and your dreams.
What are some of the challenges you face as a female entrepreneur? How do you overcome these challenges?
I think one of the more frustrating challenges I’ve faced is the perception most folks have that my jewelry business is a part-time hobby rather than a full fledged business venture. I have definitely noticed that my male counterparts are taken more seriously from the business aspect. For example, at art shows, there is a huge disparity in the numbers of bargaining attempts between my products and that of my male counterparts. Many folks just assume I’m doing this on the side, while my husband is paying all the bills, and therefore, I can afford to give my jewelry away at a fraction of what it’s worth. Over time, I have learned to be firm but respectful and remind folks that the pieces are priced as they should be, and unfortunately, there are no sales today.
If you could give advice to someone pursuing their passion as a designer or in any other field, what would it be?
Follow your heart. Stick to your passion. Do what it is that makes you feel good, and try to do good for someone else. Don’t worry about what the latest “trends” are, and of course, don’t try to copy someone else’s style. I think everyone is inspired by others in their field, and that’s a good thing. But you need to find your own way beyond their inspiration. There are no accidents in the creative process. Remember, especially if you are planning to make this your life long career – as the saying goes – do what you like, the money will follow.
A special thanks to Laura Coleman for hosting this giveaway for my deep thinkers!!!
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
All you have to do to enter is answer the question in a comment: What do you like the most about Turtle Neck Jewelry?
Make sure your email address is in every comment in this sample format: you (at) email (dot) com [to avoid spam] that way I can reach you if you win! That’s all you have to do to enter!
Once you complete the first step, every extra comment counts as another entry!
For additional entries:
● Like Turtle Neck Jewelry on Facebook
● Follow Turtle Neck Jewelry on Twitter
● Tweet about the giveaway:
I want to win a Fab bracelet from @turtleneckjewel!
Just leave me a comment when you like, follow or tweet!
Anonymous comments will be disqualified. Giveaway is only open to U.S. Residents, 18 years and older. Giveaway Ends Sunday March 13, 2011 at Midnight EST. The winner will be chosen using Random.org on March 14, 2011.If the winners fail to respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen.
Disclosure was not compensated for this post and I did not receive any jewelry, so there’s really nothing to disclose. After seeing the beautiful line, I was excited to have Turtle Neck Jewelery host a giveaway because Laura Coleman is quite an inspiration.