#276 The Evolution of the Bijules Incubator with Jules Kim

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From designing golden pasties for Cardi B to mentoring up-and-coming designers, Jules Kim of Bijules does it all! 

I just love when I get the opportunity to sit down with a really successful jewelry designer for a casual interview. This episode is jam-packed with insight into the jewelry industry, thriving as a maker, and contextualizing art in pop culture.

Jules Kim introduced her semi-eponymous jewelry line Bijules in 2002. Straddling lifestyle and design, the collection offers a provocative, conceptual interpretation of fine jewelry inspired by the streets and nightclubs of New York City. 

Eighteen years after she stamped her first cast, Kim continues to evolve her cultural storytelling, both conceptually and tangibly, by embedding a foundational respect for the Earth into her sustainable making processes and materials.

Jules has been an active advocate for supporting members of the jewelry industry of all diverse backgrounds and knocking down the barriers that have traditionally stood in their way.

Her story is awe-inspiring.

#276 The Evolution of the Bijules Incubator with
Jules Kim show notes

Sit down and write a main headline that's going to go at the top of your page. It should be specific, not generic. It should, it should hook people quickly. And then follow that up with some text that is, you know, further takes like describe is what your headline says maybe goes a little deeper. Follow that up with a call to action.

Welcome to Thrive by Design, the podcast for ambitious independent jewelry brands, looking to profit from their products, get ready to make more and sell more doing what you love, without spending every single waking minute doing it. Hey, and if you're a creative fashion or product-based business, I want to welcome you to the show. I'll be dropping big tips on launching, growing, and scaling your business. Spend more of your precious time using your creativity to make you ready. All right, let's do this.

Tracy: Welcome to the Thrive by Design podcast episode 276. Hey there, it's Tracy Matthews, Chief Visionary Officer of Flourish and Thrive Academy and the host of the show today I am beyond thrilled to just invite my guest on the show today we have Jules Kim of Bijules on the show. And she's been a contemporary of mine in the industry for a very long time. Is that what you call it a contemporary I don't know we both started our businesses in and around the same time I was I started a little bit earlier than her but she was on the scene doing some of the trade, same tradeshow circuits, all the things and it's fun because we've got to come full circle, we got to we had a chance to actually chat about some amazing things that she's been doing. And every year or every now and then I like to have you know, successful brands and designers who are doing great things in the industry on the show and just you sort of a casual interview. And that's what this is. 

Now one of the main reasons why I wanted to have Jules on the show is because she was highly involved with Angely Martinez in the process for the BIPOC open letter, in fact, and jelly was one of her interns back in the day. And Jules She calls herself the blonde Asian has been a proponent for BIPOC jewelry designers and makers in the industry for a very long time. In fact, she even has an incubator called the Bijules incubator, where she is mentoring different BIPOC designers and makers all over the world. And is very excited to kind of support the jewelry community in that way. So I loved this conversation with jewels, you are going to love it. And one of the reasons why I think it's so timely now is that she's doing some great things. And she's going to be talking about partnerships that she's doing with Wolf and Badger, and a lot of other things as well. 

But we are also hosting a BIPOC scholarship. And what that means is that we are committed, we've committed over $42,000 in scholarships and mentorships to mentor six designers throughout the year 2020 and beyond. And at the end of it, we're gonna be having a contest work grant competition where you can win money to invest in marketing, investing, product development, and invest in whatever you would like. And so part of the reason why this is really powerful is in this open letter that Angely Martinez wrote back in the summer after the death of George Floyd was that she was asking for a call for more support of makers who are coming up in the ranks in the BIPOC community. 

So I decided to do this scholarship. We're taking enrollment right now. So if you're interested in learning more about that, I'd really love to invite you to head on over to flourishthriveacademy.com/bipocmentor and get on the waitlist and if you know a BIPOC maker or jewelry designer, or product maker of any type, please share that link with them that's flourishthriveacademy.com/bipocmentor we will also have the link in the show notes so that because we're trying to really open this up and get as many applicants as we possibly can. It's free to apply all this is that we are here to support you in growing your business and there is nothing but upside here. So if you're interested, go check it out. 

So Jules is awesome, as you're gonna see in this interview, and I'm going to just do a quick bio of her. Jules Kim introduce her semi eponymous jewelry line jewels in 2000 to 2002 excuse me straddling lifestyle and design the collection offers a proactive, conceptual interpretation of fine jewelry, inspired by the streets and nightclubs of New York City, from reimagining Hanna Dorman to inventing wireless jewelry for the digital age can manifest designs that are more than wearable objects. They are a language through which she expresses her personal evolution and interprets our shared human experiences. 18 years after she stamped her first cast, Kim continues to evolve her cultural storytelling, both conceptually and tangibly by embodying a foundational respect for the earth into her sustainable making processes and materials. And if you're watching some of the video versions of this, you're going to experience some of Jules amazingly awesome jewelry. She really is an innovator. She's an art jeweler through and through. So let's dive into today's episode. 

Tracy: All right, well, I'm super excited to have Jules cam on the show today, Jules, welcome.

Jules: Thank you for having me. Tracy.

Tracy: I am excited to have you for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, we've been kind of in the business for almost around the same amount of time you started your company in about 2002. Started in eight, which has been fun to watch your career for sure. Thanks. You're welcome. But I think the most fun part of this whole thing is that Natasha, our business accelerator specialist over here at Flourish and Thrive, invited me to one of your DJing events over at the standard hotel about a year ago. And it was fun to kind of see you in your element. Because you got you have so many facets to to what you do as a

Jules: Yeah, for sure.

Tracy: As the Jules Kim brand,

Jules: it's true. And I love that you just drop the word facets in there like I'm a gemstone.

Tracy: Well, you kind of are, right?

Jules: Yeah. Thanks. Well, for sure. It's almost like a namesake that my name is Jules, my brand is Bijules and I'm a jewelry maker, etc, etc. but for sure, I think you know, a lot of the essence of what I do is based on interacting with people and really engaging and building a community. So what you had seen what you what you actually lived through is part of where I come from. So I come from nightlife here in New York, and was a DJ in promoting parties. And you know, the party that you actually attended is the longest running rooftop party in New York. So for sure, yeah, it's like another OG type of you know, not knocking about that kind of thing. I think also, it's, you know, New Yorkers are super hard working. And in the summer, you sort of want to breathe a little, you know, come together again. And so I mean, this season, clearly, we weren't able to execute, but I think the spirit is still there, the spirit of community and wanting to share and being creative, so that never goes away no matter what.

Tracy: So I want it before I dive into all the amazing jewelry that you're wearing. So on the podcast and the audio version, you're not gonna be able to see it. So I would highly recommend that you kind of come and find the video later, because Jules jewelry is awesome. And I want to hear just a little bit more about your history. Like how did you get inspired to get into jewelry design? Like let's talk, let's go back, let's go way back.

Jules: Yeah, let's go way back 2002. I think, you know, when I moved to New York, I was super hyped to get going, even though I didn't know what I was doing. I think, you know, youth really sort of breeds that type of energy that no matter what you wind up doing, like you've got this super aggressive spirit. And at the time I was working in nightlife and still continue once it ever comes back to life. Nightlife really sort of put this interesting spin to how I saw the world at the time, because this was in the days where you I would be spending vinyl, I would be, you know, running around with milk crates of vinyl on the subway, you know, it definitely was an interesting time to spin records. And so I think, for me, in that experience, like making events and living through these moments, they didn't last forever. 

They only lasted for one night, maybe into the morning, you know, but never anything like super permanent. And so I felt that there was this sort of open ended type of phrase in my life, and I really wanted to concretize it. And so I had studied jewelry making on a one on one basis back in my college years. So I remember this process being super intriguing for me because the development was something I was doing with my hands. And I was learning as I went and that type of learn as you go is the way that I have always lived my life. So I sort of went back to that. And this was also in the days of Sex in the City where the nameplate was standard, you know, and Pat Fields was here. And I was like, well, I know everybody's not named Carrie. 

You know, so then I was so I was like putting smartass little nameplates together even now you can see one of the voting pieces that I have. It says devote devote like as in give yourself all the way. It's an act of devotion to sort of play with your duty as a civilian. And so playing with the nameplate sort of contextualizes my creative process. So being in New York, coming from the street, so to speak, and then putting a high end spin on it, and then having that idea last forever, because the materials of jewelry are legacy, and they are permanent. They will outlast us humans, for sure. So I also think it's like developing time, timeless capsules that I wanted to put into the world. And I think that's what started my point of view, clearly, I was too young to understand what all of that jargon was. 

But then as you start running, you develop this pace of understanding. And that really, really, I guess, like, pushed me quickly into the front row, so to speak, I was working with celebrities still do work with celebrities. It's a core element of my business. And it also brings an element of working on custom pieces. Because if you're working with a celebrity, it's not from me, I can't do what they tell me because they don't know what I do yet. So I have to be able to dictate what my process is, and bring the way that I see the world and to the silhouette into the concept of jewelry that they hire me to bring. 

Tracy: I love that.

Jules: Yeah. In that sense. It's like building a trend before it's even a trend.

Tracy: Well, the cool thing about that, too, is that you're they're basically like commissioning Jules Kim for like not necessarily taking you for a piece of jewelry, which is like I think what everyone really wants is to be in the space where someone just trust you so much with what you're going to come up with. And they're just like, go for it. And here's my wallet.

Jules: Yeah, totally. I love that. You know, I also really love that you use the word trust, because trust is integral in any type of relationship. But especially when you're working with creativity and find metals, there's an actual, like, financial investment that one might make in an endeavor with a collaboration with an artist. And if that artist has the true expertise that they represent, then you would always instill that type of trust with your client and also in the product. 

And also for me, it goes an extra step, because it's the concept that I'm bringing forward as well. So a lot of concepts I'll have, and I will wait and sit on it until I have the right celebrity if they're not a celebrity, if they're the right person to be able to augment that concept and sort of put it out in the world. Because I really, truly believe that concepts drive culture. And as a creative, it's my duty to be able to comment on the context of today. And when I made these pieces when I made Beyonce nail rings in 2008, the way that she moved her body is how people felt about themselves. You know what I mean? So she used the nail rings as a personality tool, she was able to spend her style spin the way that she saw the world into how she would just stipulate wearing these pieces of jewelry. So this also is like something that I really love to define as being the pinnacle part of pop culture.

Tracy: I want to talk about the jewelry that you're wearing in just a minute.

Jules: Yeah, yeah.

Tracy: Were you always doing fine jewelry or was it when you started with other materials always fine jewelry?

Jules: I was always doing fine jewelry. My first nameplate I made in silver and just worked my way up from there. Normally clients would see something and silver and then if they wanted it and more high end material then we went for it.

Tracy: I love it. I love it. I did not find it started as fine jewelry. I was starting with silver and semi precious and then which is what they call Demi fine now. And obviously now I'm just doing the fine jewelry stuff, which I love. I like it so much better because I love the personal attention you can give

Jules: I agree.

Tracy: Show me your hands because they are okay so I'm obsessed with you if you can't see if you're just listening to the podcast, but Jules got like, basically like hand a jewelry on so why don't you tell us a little bit?

Jules: So with the hands, I was just mentioning how people just stipulate and with what I do. I'm a very physical person. And so with my hands, I'm also a very practical person. And I need to be functional at all times. So with this 14 karat gold articulated handle it, basically it's a bracelet for the hands, I wanted to bring motion to the peace as opposed to this type of idea where it's stable knuckle rings, these are two separate rings. But what I wanted to do was isolate the movement of the finger. And then I had full range of motion, but the actual gold jewelry stays where it is. It's my flesh that wraps over these x's like a fulcrum. And so this idea I wanted to do away with this idea, and then bring in this idea where it's articulated. So my flesh is moving with the piece.

Tracy: So cool.

Jules: Yeah, so it's like little ideas that I'm always tempting to change as I develop. And since I've been designing jewelry for 20 years, there's so many core designs that all I have to do is look at it differently.

Tracy: I love it. It's so cool. And I love how your hands just move with it. I'm gonna have this like into the entire video on the blog post for this so people can watch it like take a look at your hands. It looks amazing. So we got reintroduced more recently because Angely Martinez wrote the BIPOC Open letter. And you started the BIJULES incubator to support BIPOC designers and brands in the industry. And I want to just talk a little bit about that. Like how like, first of all foremost, like how did you meet Angely?

Jules: Yes, all good. I think Angely is like a super, super, super talented woman. And she came to me as an FIT intern. And I remember meeting her and giving her a task. And at the time, I had two other interns working with me. And when I say intern, it's a very flat definition. And I never call my interns, interns, they have always been mentees, always, always always, there's something more three dimensional and walk around with a mentee. Because I'm always learning and I'm always giving. So by nature, that's how I work. I'm a giver. And so in that sense, the bee jewels BIJULES incubator sort of became fleshed out later when I started having my brick and mortar aspects. So in the last 10 years, I've been mentoring through a retail space, and with the retail space that gives breath to the actual real life work experience. 

And so all of my mentees would be working with me, and for me, for the greater good of the brand, but also for the act of understanding what real life work experience looks like, and how to communicate. I also find that no matter where you come from non traditional or not, I am a huge proponent of clear and open communication. And I think that guided me to work with specifically LGBTQ and BIPOC individuals, because they express their emotionality before anyone else. They need more support than anyone else. And it's not that I would go seeking them at all, it's that they would come to me. There's something about you know, the attraction of like minded souls, believing in something that really has a seed type of values. So when I plant a seed, it's my community that nourishes it. 

And that's how I would normally find my interns/mentees. So when I and Angely were an official intern, because that was the FIT standard, right. And I think she quickly understood that that's not how I worked. Um, so when she was working, I gave her a task and involved sketching it, and also being profound with concept. And so she did some sketches and then another mentor, he did some sketches and I was looking at them both comparing both and understanding that Angely comes from a similar background. I would never know where she was born, how old she was at the time. I wouldn't know but based on her concepts, I knew that she was coming from the same spirituality the same, the same methodology like looking at something that's a standard and going like you know, that doesn't quite suit me, let's do it this way. And I think that type of mentality is what really sort of enforces who the mentees are. It guides them into a similar thinking space of where I come from. And that is considered a niche. But we're wildly numerous. You know, the way that we see the world, there's lots of us, there's plenty of market share for those jewelers who think differently.

Tracy: Yeah, and I love the thing that I love, too, about Angely work is that it is so conceptual and like yours is you? Which is also there's a lot of alignment there, right?

Jules: Yeah, for sure. And I think also, you know, after two decades of sort of scripting silhouettes and bringing them to market, working on the copywriting theory, really pushing ownership in actual real life circumstances, but also pushing copyleft in the sense where I want to teach and give these scripts and these silhouettes and this standard way of seeing the world to the next generation of jeweler who's coming in, because that means I'm trying to be diligent and responsible with the market that I'm helping create. And if I'm going to participate in it, then I should be truly involved inside of it. 

And I think that has a lot to do with the community building the building trust between the denizens of the community because they ultimately become a leadership council. You know, as a result, you know, the BIPOC open letter is a byproduct of having discussed and debated and theorized things that are happening on a day to day basis, because this becomes a skill as an artist that you're able to digest. You're able to emote, and you're able to create from these really tumultuous times in our lives in general. And we have had so many of them. 

That, you know, I think we had talked before, you know, at the beginning of COVID, you're sort of like, what are we supposed to do? And does anyone? Right? Does anyone care about 14 karat gold jewelry? Does anyone care. And eventually, we understand that we have to keep moving forward that what we believed in is no longer what we have to stay in this tiny box like, these tiny boxes are siloed for our safety. And now we understand that we can't live that way. We really have to expose ourselves to understand different thoughts, schools of thought, we have to absorb things in conditions that we may not be comfortable with. Because there are so many personalities in the world.

Tracy: So many personalities. This is true. I'm preparing for our training next week. And we're talking about how much money is being spent, like politically on advertisements right now? Like the presidential candidates are all spending like $5 million a week on Facebook. And like, I think people are just so bombarded with things that they're I think most people like honestly, just can't wait till the election is over. Just so we have.

Jules: There's definitely tension build up. And I think there's something to be said about building up to a certain point, that release is going to affect a huge amount of change. Up until now. It's almost like, okay, we're listening. We're listening. Okay, we understand or not, but once the Election Day rolls around, well, at least know which direction we're heading.

Tracy: Exactly. Exactly. So you shared with me before that, like follow up questions about all this stuff. But like you showed her up before, that you're moving with your husband to Italy and Germany. So I want to hear a little bit about how this and we'll go back, come back to the BIPOC Open Letter because I want to talk more about that and your incubator and stuff. And how are you going to are you going to keep your production in New York?

Jules: I'm going to do a little bit of both and always work in New York as a prototype face, you know, I create my IDEA Lab theories here. And then I think what I'm going to be doing is really focusing on the hands on idea and because that's where I get so much of my inspiration, understanding the materials but also relating to the artisans, their experience and their methodology like I really appreciate their world and where they're coming from, and also how to really extend myself and go outside of basic standards. 

That's something that I'm really, truly interested in investigating. And so I want to see if Italian artisans work that way, or can they be challenged that way. And the same goes for German artisans, as well. But I think one of the roles that I'd like to continue playing is that of a thought leader, being able to bring these challenges to a new market, and see how I can react with it, because I'll always be making jewelry. And it really, truly doesn't matter where, because I've made jewelry all over the world at this point.

Tracy: Yeah, that's the best part about you know, being able to design and make something that's small, because it's like you can get out like it can be produced in a variety of places. And it's awesome. So you've kind of started your mentorship back, you know, just by hiring interns like what's that evolved into like, and I also want to kind of weave this into. So Angely wrote the BIPOC open letter, I just had her on the show a couple of weeks ago, the episode went live a couple of weeks ago, as we're recording this. Let's talk about what happened then. Because I know you guys are really close, you're great friends, I'd love to hear kind of how this whole thing kind of evolved from your perspective.

Jules: Sure, I guess, as I mentioned before, just understanding Angely as a person, as a woman, and as a maker, I really felt a kinship with her. And I was and I said to her, oh, I see you you're going to go someplace. And then you know, as our relationship is nurtured, she really was engaged with the community and really interested and the thought processes and some of the ideas that were being generated inside of my brands and in my universe. So in that way, like we were and always will be friends. And in that condition, there's a very safe place to engage in conversation. And when the George Floyd murder happened, it was wildly unsettling to our community. And when I say community, it's a global community of super non traditional and diverse people. And they may or may not be jewelers themselves, but they might be creators in any sense of the term. And I think also there is another aspect to what's happened in our current situation is that we have social media and we have the internet. 

So we are traumatized online. It is being telecast, we are not being prompted, we are being watched, and everything that we see and live through is immediately documented. And then what I see happen and it's clear, it's just a fact that there is not a tender banter, going back and forth about the issues that we have in the world, it is an ongoing artillery being thrown at each other on the internet. And there's no exchange there. It's one sided. Sure, you might say this, and then someone says this, but there's no call to action. There's no actual general understanding of how to move forward as a unit even when you have conflicting views. So I think once the I guess the immediate trauma was happening from the the George Floyd murder. Angely's like, what, what do I do like this is not cool. 

People in my community are calling each other out like they're batting. It's super negative. And I was like, well, first and foremost, let's commit to not engaging in any type of negative behavior. It's not good for you. You are sensitive as a soul. Everyone is. And I think it should be better said if you could rely on a group theory and organize the strategy and come at this with elegance, because we don't need to create any more trauma than is already naturally happening. And so I think the BIPOC open letter was a result of those conversations and how her community was engaging with each other or against each other. And I think also, I've written plenty of open letters about ethical practices and the fashion and the jewelry industries. And what I'd learned is that yes, you might have these issues or these things that you don't agree with, and ultimately you have to have a Call to Action, you have to really prescribe something to enact the change that you're expecting. 

Because if you just sit there and complain, there's absolutely nothing that you're going to come from that absolutely not. So in that sense, like there needed to be an organized mission, there needed to be a call for the community and the out facing community, meaning the jewelry industry specifically, because they're barriers to entry, always forever and facing a new industry. So as an emerging talent, no matter where you come from, there are going to be these frontiers that you've got to meet. And I think when you're a BIPOC, or LGBTQIA, all of these different circumstances are front and center. And there's a lot of fear that misguides them. And a lot of them don't even wind up perpetuating their drive, they jump off the ride before they even get in. So I think that is really disheartening. 

Because I would love and have always tried to challenge the bottom line of the jewelry and the fashion industries by really showcasing what's going on with culture and how the context really brings innovation, and generates impact into both industries. And I believe that should be standard. So I think the BIPOC open letter and the ensuing conversations are super integral and changing the bottom line, adjusting these infrastructures that have been developed for so long. And ultimately, you know, we live in, we work in the legacy industry, and the people who are now consuming things receive information differently. 

They engage differently, they're on their phones, they're on their devices, they are not engaging with the world the way that our generation did. So this is sort of like facing the music because we know we're not the last generation to come into this industry, but we must be super Cognizant and respectful of the new generation that's, that's coming in. And I think in that respect, our industry has a lot of, they have a lot of backspacing to do a lot of things to look at, there's a mirror being held, I think.

Tracy: There's so many things that you just said that I like want to unpack, and But like, one thing I really want to call out, because I think it's been happening a lot is that with social media, and the times and like how quickly information spreads, I mean, there is like so much canceled culture and online bullying happening, that it's almost impossible for people to even have a debate about a topic these days. Like, it's frustrating, because like, you know, it's like, oftentimes, like only one side to get seen. And, or if someone has an opposing view, like there's no way it used to be like people would just like to work it out and try to like, debate would actually bring out the better idea, right, or the call, or the solution. 

And it's not very frustrating to me, like I've had like over the past, honestly, like, nine months since COVID. Started, like, because of everything that's happening online, I've had to like, dial back a lot of social media because I can't even like I can't stand even going on Facebook these days to like, post like a picture of my nieces. because everything's like everything has to be like this angry political argument and like, you're wrong, if you think this way, and you're wrong, if you think that way. And this and that, and this and that. And it's like, I do believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion. I don't think all opinions are, right. I mean, no, not but like, at the same time, like if we can't get to a point where we can have these difficult conversations in a constructive manner, like, how are we ever going to get to, like real growth or awakening or change in our society and industry

Jules: We won't, we won't, our society will not evolve. And that is a sad day, when those types of dialogues cannot be respected. And you know, intersectionality is a place where we all have to come to at some point it's basic decision making skills. So you know, when we have these fulcrum moments where there's one idea and then another idea, it's in that collaborative session, It's that crossover that all change can happen. You can't have any type of engaging evolution. Without those crossovers.

Tracy: Yeah, in nature of all things. And there needs to be both sides presented and I think that that's the challenge. So, and that's kind of like a little bit going off topic. But I just wanted to call that out. Because I think like, a lot of people are probably feeling like, they're afraid to even like, whether it's be supportive, or like to voice a true opinion sometimes, because they're worried about getting shut down. You know, we had a private conversation about something that happened to me. And it was like, unfair, because I didn't really do anything. And it's like, I don't want to be forced into saying something when I'm not prepared to make a statement or haven't been able to, like, fully think very, in general. And I feel like that's what people are being forced to do things that either feel uncomfortable, or they're just completely retreating and not sharing their opinion. And I don't think that that is safe in any way, shape, or form. 

Because you know, one of the things that we talked about when we had that call with a couple months ago with a couple of us, was really about, like, how can we start this conversation to inspire change? And what is what that change really look like? From a front facing perspective, there was something else I was gonna say which I just lost my train of thought, but it'll come back, so I'm not too worried about it. So I want to talk a little bit about your BIJULES incubator and what you're doing with the partnership with Wolf and Badger, do you want to share a little bit more?

Tracy: Yeah, it's super exciting. It's a curated designer program, where I have selected three jewelry designers from the incubator. And with bringing these designers together, I wanted to create a safe place for them to create, and be also an opportunity for them to really define their creative process, and then see for them to be spirited, and to allow them to engage in dialogue visually, to talk about themselves to sort of liberate themselves from being inside. And I think we all can relate to how that feels. So I sort of wanted to let the birds fly, so to speak. And I've worked with Wolf and Badger in the past. And they're super supportive. And they're an omni channel platform. So it's online, they also have their own brick and mortar, here in New York and also in London. And they also have a great marketing platform. 

So we can bring the IGTV leg there, we can also have interviews going on, and IG live, etc, etc. So it's a really robust program. And one of the barriers to entry we might say, for an emerging designer would be not having access to a lot of the things right, so one of the core elements of the program is to have provided a huge gemstone archive from from a jeweler who has since passed and in their legacy, the family wanted to offer these gemstones. And so I had each designer select any gemstone they wanted, and maybe 50 to 70 gemstones later. Each of them really had like their own beautiful magic, handfuls of these amazing mineral gemstones. And to see their faces when I would guide them through it because of course we're doing it on zoom to see their faces was so fascinating because they would get there like faces would open like shapes of expressions I'd never seen these designers have before because they're like, wow, what is that? 

You know, and I'm like, that is a picture Jasper, you know, or so, for them to be uplifted. And also for me not to build a program that was like you're talking about like, scripted to a tee on a time and you have to deliver it this way. And you know, here's the due date. I wanted them to feel free in creating and executing because they're all artisans, they're all hand making everything. But literally the day after they chose all of their stones. They all had already selected the stones, sketched everything, had ideas, they were well on their way. So in that sense it was like a slick loose into their creative process. Yesterday I filmed all of them. And I, you know, seeing these pieces it blew my mind. Definitely. All three of them challenged themselves like no way before and the final product is super uplifting.

Tracy: That's I want to see that video once you have winter share it. Yeah,

Jules: Sure, yeah, we're in the editing process, as you know.

Tracy: So I think just so people have a reference point, I think what you were mentioning about like due dates, and timelines, and all those things is our ship that Flourish and Thrive Academy is going to be hosting for bipoc. designers, we are doing intake in December. So if you are a BIPOC jewelry designer and you want business and marketing mentoring, please head on over to the waitlist, we'll have it in the show notes. I just want to mention that so people have a point of reference of what you're talking about. So if designers in the BIPOC and LGBTQIA community wanted to get involved in the jewels incubator, like how can they get involved in that?

Jules: They can just go to Instagram and DM me at Instagram. They can also email me, Jules@bijulesnyc.com and normally what I like to do with new talents as they come in is I really want them to evaluate themselves. And to sort of do their own SWOT analysis, like show me what they think their strengths and their weaknesses are from their perspective. And, you know, also, I think that it's really important for them to be able to feel safe to communicate with me as a complete stranger, so to speak, because they're things that you know, in my mentorship program, they're things that I isolate and specialize in. And then there's some things that I really don't prefer to touch, you know, so maybe your program might be more fit for someone who's more, I guess, concerned about developing sales strategy, etc, etc, they already have a completed collection, this is their fifth year in business, etc, etc. Me, what I really like to focus on is the development of one's core value as an artist where they perceive their, their drive coming from and what direction do they want to push towards? I'm really sort of baited inside of like the process, and how to evolve as a person and as a creative unit. Those are the things that I really focus on.

Tracy: I can tell that you're super focused on the creative process and like being an artist and like, basically show up in the world doing that. And I think that's, it's so great, because it's so needed, I think, you know, you think about great artists in the world. And a lot of times they're, I'm going to use the word of their apprentices like, menteed up to become like, great artists, you know, down the road later. So I want to ask you just one more question before we're in such a great interview, by the way, oh, you have any, like, advice for emerging designers or makers?

Jules: Yeah, you know, I, I always do. And I really, truly believe in understanding yourself before you forge deeper into your craft. I always think that there's a certain amount of emotive responsibility that a creative must have in order to, to move forward in their career path. And I also believe that, you know, being an artist is a spirited career, it's something that takes a lot of balls takes a lot of courage, and you will make so many mistakes. And I also feel that you know, facing your failure is a condition that human beings are scared to do. 

But it also is a place of vulnerability that you're able to create with unbridled attachments. And I think that's a specialized, I guess, tidbit of personal experience that I've learned through this almost two decades of creating and really pushing boundaries and challenging the way that people see jewelry today is that I fall in so many times, and I take great pride and have fallen. And I think those types of patterns, you never fall twice. You always understand what happens, and then you never make that mistake again. So I think an essence like that is a learning process. It is super organic, and could be quite painful. But I also think that that's what creatives are. We live in this very sticky realm. We could say,

Tracy: Wow, I love that. You said that for a very specific reason. Because like we've all had like math like sometimes the failures are really massive. Like my first business was taken out in 2008 because all the wholesale stores started filing for bankruptcy and didn't pay me. And I think that some people, people are so afraid of that. And, like, obviously, like, you don't necessarily want to get yourself into a situation like that. But at the same time, it's like failing forward is like a really powerful way to, I mean, I always talk about entrepreneurship and being a business owner, and especially, a creative business owner as a fast track course into personal development because you grow so much and so fast. And I love that you said like, you know, you're gonna make mistakes, but you know, use that as fuel to kind of continue to move forward and learn from those mistakes, because that's how you grow as a human how you become a better artist, and how you actually like are able to adapt to what your market and I'm saying your market because everyone's got their own market that they're serving. It's a way to adapt to what your market actually wants from you, which is cool,

Jules: Right. Yeah, totally. And I also think that your market, as a designer, you're able to confront what your market needs before they even know what they need. So in order for you to do that you really have to be perceptive about your own skill set. You know, so I think that's really an important aspect to being a creative entrepreneur.

Tracy: Amazing. Jules, thank you so much for being here. I Had such a blast.

Jules: Thank you for having me. Tracy.

Tracy: Where can everyone find you?

Jules: Um, you can head to the website. It's https://www.bijules.me  And then you can also find me on Instagram as always at @BIJULES and of course, check out the incubator at BIJULES INCUBATOR

Tracy: Thank you so much. We'll have you have all those links in the show notes as well. Thank you so much for listening to the show today. This is Tracy Matthews signing off. Until next time, but before I do, I wanted to remind you, if you are a BIPOC jewelry maker or any sort of creative product maker, I want to invite you to apply for a BIPOC scholarship, head on over to https://www.flourishthriveacademy.com/bipocmentor  and get all of the information that you need to apply it for this scholarship. We are already taking the waitlist and we are taking applications in the first phase. And this process is happening fast. So if you're interested, get to it now before the doors close. All right, this is Tracy Matthews, signing off. For real now. Until next time.

Click here to download the show notes

What is the Bijules Incubator?

The Bijules Incubator is a jewelry talent development program for emerging & independent persons of diverse backgrounds.

Jules created this incubator to foster a supportive community in the jewelry industry and provide opportunities for up-and-coming designers to shine.

Three talented designers from her program recently got the opportunity to collaborate with Wolf & Badger. Jules believes this will allow them to really define their creative process and express themselves in new ways
If you’re interested in becoming involved with the Bijules Incubator, you can DM Jules on Instagram or email her at jules@bijulesnyc.com

Enact the Change You’re Expecting

One standout designer from the incubator is a friend of the show, Angely Martinez.

Jules supported Angely in writing the BIPOC Open Letter to the jewelry community. Jules describes how painful it was to see the barrage of verbal artillery within her own community. 

The BIPOC Open Letter was an opportunity to unite designers and create a clear call to action for change that is desperately needed within the industry.

Jules says that the ensuing conversations since the letter was published are integral to changing and challenging the bottom line of the jewelry industry. 

Jules Kim’s Advice for Designers

Before we wrapped up the interview, I had to ask Jules if she had any advice for fellow designers, and she did not disappoint:  

Understand yourself before you forge deeper into your craft. Being an artist is a spirited career that takes a lot of courage to pursue.

You’ll make mistakes, and facing failure is something nobody likes to do. But embracing that vulnerability allows you to create with unbridled attachments.

“I’ve fallen so many times, and I take great pride in having fallen.”

This is only scratching the surface of how much wonderful insight came out of this interview. I highly encourage you to listen to the full episode above.

xo, Tracy


Follow BIJULES on Instagram!

Follow the BIJULES Incubator on Instagram!


Wolf & Badger

F&TA Bipoc Scholarship

Episode #271: The BIPOC Open Letter with Angely Martinez

Read the BIPOC Open Letter



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