As mentioned previously, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a meet up for the San Diego Style Bloggers last month (post here). Not only did I meet and reunite with some fantastic local bloggers, but I also got the chance to chat with a couple of local jewelry designers. I instantly fell in love with the designs of Suki Bijoux, who creates original vintage infused jewelry, using authentic vintage pieces. I bought two pieces straight away at the meet up, and then bought six more later on because I was impressed by her use of the vintage materials, such as vintage maps, dictionary entries, sheet music and actual typewriter keys. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Suki at the meet-up, and then again later because she custom made a vintage dictionary ring that I wear everyday since I bought it. Suki is as beautiful as she is talented, and I have discovered that she and I have the same taste in music and have actually been to a few of the same concerts! I knew there was a reason we hit it off when we met!
In this brief interview, Suki explains how she got started and her inspiration behind the jewelry she makes. Support local designers, especially Suki Bijoux jewelry!
How did you make the decision to start your own business and how did you get started with jewelry specifically?
Well, unexpectedly really. Since an early age, I have always been creative by nature and had an affinity towards vintage memorabilia. As a young girl and into my early teen years, I spent countless hours tinkering with bits ‘n bobs I found here and there -creating artistic collages, jewelry, ephemera, and hand-sewn articles.
I married at 18 years old and was a mother to two beautiful children by 20; between raising children, being a full-time college student, and working there was very little time to pursue my creative outlet… until 3 years ago! What with my children now adults, I decided to re-kindle my creative ability and started a hobby making unique jewelry from vintage components. I started out using old typewriters and watches to make rings and cufflinks, and then ventured into using anything and everything circa 1900 – 1960.
One day, my husband brought to my attention just how much inventory I had made and he encouraged me to pursue an outlet for my creations. I visited a local boutique, who’s owner just fell in love with my designs, and offered to display/sell them. As it turned out, her customers loved them too! This was the start to what we know today as “Suki Bijoux”.
After the first delivery sold out, I made another… and all of those items sold too. I started to get really excited that people liked my creations, and was so inspired that I approached another local boutique with a sampling of “Suki Bijoux.” They loved it too! And so, one small step at a time, my business has grown slowly and steadily over the course of the past three years.
One year ago, I left my corporate job to pursue my new venture, my hobby gone wild… and there’s been no looking back. My designs are now in 18 boutiques between San Diego and San Clemente, with no end in sight.
When we chatted, you seem to gravitate towards a lot of vintage pieces that you rework. What inspires you most? Basically, do you seek out something to create, or are you inspired once you find a piece while out on a venture?
The inspiration evolves naturally. When I look at things, I try to envision if and how they can be re-worked into a piece of jewelry. Wherever I am, whether it’s on vacation in Europe or at a local Estate Sale, I’m always looking for unique vintage items to incorporate into my “Suki Bijoux” designs. For example, earlier this year my husband and I were vacationing in Italy, and ran across a Flea Market along the Grande Canal; I found some spectacular vintage Venetian buttons, tiny old hand-blown Morano glass flowers, and vintage postcards from the turn of the century. Occasionally an amazing item catches my attention, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do with it – sometimes months will go by until one day its’ purpose enlightens me and components seem to fall into place. I love it when that happens! Most days I go into my studio with no prior idea of what designs are going to come out of it… just like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces come together. It’s so much fun!
Will you stick mainly to upcycling vintage or will you offer newer creations?
My passion is creating authentic vintage infused jewelry, and it’s really important to me to stay true to that origin. I love everything that original “Suki Bijoux” designs represent – a piece of authentic history, a peek into past lives and cultures, a story and journey from long ago, a twinkle of what once was. My creativity gives forgotten and unwanted vintage items another chance to be appreciated once again… with a new twist! Each “Suki Bijoux” item is a one-of-a-kind, designed and hand-crafted by myself, and infused with authentic vintage materials [circa 1900 – 1960] that I personally resource from all over the world. Truly unique in every essence.
What would you say is your “style”? How is that reflected in what you have to offer in your own designs?
I like to wear styles that are timeless classics, and then add personality with accessories: a fabulous pair of shoes, a unique purse, a statement ring or necklace, or edgy earrings. As I’m designing “Suki Bijoux” accessories I always keep this in mind, “if I wouldn’t wear it, don’t make it”.
What do you enjoy best about what you do?
Now that’s a loaded question! I love the fact that I’m in tune with my creative mind again… it is so calming! Being self-employed is amazing: to be able to enjoy my home by working from my in-home studio, and to embrace the benefits of a flexible schedule. Most of all though, I just love creating jewelry that makes other people feel good when they wear it… it really makes my day when someone sends me a message telling me how much they love their “Suki Bijoux”.
I am so thankful and appreciative to all of those who have supported my business and ventured to “Re-Live A Little”.
A custom-made “recoil” vintage dictionary ring, made especially for moi! Thank you Suki!
(Pictures 2, 3, and 4 are taken from the official Suki Bijoux Facebook page.)