Designer Spotlight: Johan Vandamme
A brief story of what you do and why you do it:
For my designs I only use quality materials such as sterling silver, Gold Fill, 14 carat gold, freshwater pearls, gemstones, Swarovski crystals and Tahitian Pearls. I design jewelry and make it my daily ritual to always make something because it simply always makes me very happy. It's the total opposite of my, sometimes very hectic life, as a musical theatre performer (I’m currently a member of the Viennese cast of the original Cameron Mackintosh production of “Mary Poppins”).
How did you get into jewelry design?
I started making jewelry while I was working as a professional ballet dancer. In the beginning it was more to have something to do in my spare time, but pretty soon I was enjoying it so much that I started digging deeper and learning more about it. And there's been no stopping me since. Ever since I was a child I always enjoyed making fine things with my hands, which is a skill that comes from my grandfather who was an oil painting artist. Being a professional performer for over 10 years I absolutely adore details. Be it in my work on stage or my designs for the jewelry company.
What makes your collection unique?
I think my collections stand out because of the many details I use in them. There's always a sense of lightness and brightness in them so they never have a heavy feel. It's my goal to make the woman who wears my designs feel like she's the most glamorous person in her everyday life, be it her own wedding day or going out shopping.
What are your inspirations?
What inspires me is my love for details. On top of that, I draw inspiration from all the fantastic women I'm surrounded with in my daily life as a musical theatre performer. It's the glamorous feeling of a premiere or a gala that I want my customer to feel every time she puts on her piece of JUVELAN jewelry. I still get a thrill every time we receive an order, because it makes me realize we make a product that people actually want to wear and there's nothing more fulfilling then that.
How are you making a difference in your life?
Being a Virgo, I’m never really satisfied with anything I do. Over the years I though myself, when something is finished to be happy with the result and not hold onto the thought that I could have made it even better. Also, I want to learn something new everyday. Sometimes it's a word in a foreign language, a skill, or a random piece of knowledge.
What's something unusual about you that makes you “you”?
I grew up In Belgium, moved to Germany when I just turned 18 to start working as a professional Ballet dancer. 10 years later I find myself in the same country where I learned to speak a whole new language and start my own company. I never thought about where my path was going and just followed my instincts. So far they have not been wrong, and I hope that they'll continue sending me down the right paths.
What's the biggest struggle in running your jewelry business like a business? OR What is your biggest success in running your business like a business?
The biggest struggle I find is not having enough time to do everything we'd like to get done. There's always a whole list of things I’d want to see checked off, but it's hard when you're only two people and 24 hours in one day.
The biggest success on the other hand is looking back on all of the amazing things that we've achieved in the past five years. Like getting our Bridal collection featured in multiple magazine editorials, having our designs worn by international musical stars both on stage and on the red carpet. And having Carola and Sanna Nielsen, two of Sweden's biggest pop stars, wear our jewelry on Swedish television. When those things happen, we know that it's important to not always focus on the things that don't get done, but be happy about what did get done and the outcome of it.
I'm a self-taught Belgian jewelry designer and started learning my skills about 9 years ago. Since 5 years, together with my partner, I'm the proud owner of our company JUVELAN, which is based in Stuttgart Germany. My business has allowed me to find my own voice in my designing and making skills and I still hand make every piece that goes out the door.