This week we chatted with Julia Szendrei- jewelry artist, business owner and supermom- about her daily morning ritual, tips on "color theory" and how she doubled her social media reach by building relationships, not ads.
Pour some coffee (or wine) and enjoy!
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Have you been an artist all your life?
I’m originally from Cape Cod. I grew up in a small town called Harwich and I was born on Nantucket, which I’ve grown very fond of. I’ve been an artist my entire life and have been a painter since I was a little girl. I can remember my first medium being watercolors, I moved into oil painting and now I primarily paint with acrylics when I have time for this passion! I have a pretty solid collection of large paintings that I should really get back into.
"There's no better teacher than somebody who actually loves the gemstones for what they are"
When were you introduced to the world of stones and metal? What do you love about that world?
I would make jewelry for my friends and their mothers and aunts as gestures of love, which I attest to be the foundation for my current profession. When I moved to San Francisco I joined a few clubs that introduced me to the lapidary world, stone cutting and metal work in all different manners. The people in these clubs were primarily older, 50+ and they had an authentic love for earth minerals. There’s no better teacher than somebody who actually loves the gemstones for what they are.
"It's important to incorporate new colors into your day that can help boost certain emotions like joy, serenity and excitement"
We know you love color theory, how does it help guide you? Can you tell us more about color theory?
Color therapy is essentially the use of color to navigate your emotional ties. This for me would go into the same category of sensory therapy since colors are so visual! Think of a color and then some associations you might have with it. It’s important to incorporate new colors into your day that can help boost certain emotions like joy, serenity and excitement.
It’s fun to get to know your relationship and history with color and try new stuff out. It’s about tuning into how that color makes you feel, then use it to do something different, wear something new, even if it feels a little weird. Make it a conversation piece so you can have some positive interactions- get some oxytocin and high fives going for being different!
"I had this one teacher I'll never forget. She taught me to respect being an artist and that it takes an enormous amount of hard work, talent and perseverence to make your work meaningful"
How did your background as an artist influence your jewelry business?
My background as a fine artist definitely influenced my drive as a business professional. It sounds funny but I had this one teacher I’ll never forget from college that really lit a fire inside of me. She taught me to respect being an artist and that it takes an enormous amount of hard work, talent and perseverance to make your work meaningful.
Do you have any daily rituals to keep yourself grounded?
I’m addicted to really good chai and the mushroom teas by Four Sigmatic which would also be my ritual every morning. My goal this year is to get three days of yoga in a week as well as start a gratitude journal, meditate and do a breathing exercise every morning.
You have a little one now, congrats! How has motherhood impacted your outlook?
Becoming a mother has been one of the most amazing things that’s ever happened me. It’s definitely the hardest thing I have ever been through and transitioning into a mother takes a great deal of shedding that old snake skin.
One day I’m hoping to share my work with Sierra and it would be really really fun to see what comes out of that! Right now I’m reading Raising Happiness which breaks down how to raise happy kids… which actually means how you can retrain your brain to be happy so you can teach them how to be happy.
How do you juggle running a business, caring for her, and caring for yourself?
It’s definitely been insane. For the first year it was super hard, I felt really guilty. But now after almost a year and a half I have been able to identify my needs much more and direct my business in a way that has a little bit more love involved. Work isn’t just work for me- it’s pleasure and joy and I get so into it.
Sounds like a journey! What's surprised you most about motherhood?
Since I’ve had her I’ve been able to connect with other mothers. I love learning about what other moms in the creative field do. There’s definitely a motherhood tribe… You’re part of this new club, you feel like you ran an ironman, it’s awesome but very scary. There’s a sense of “I made it through this.”
Has Sierra given you new inspiration or changed the way you think about jewelry?
She definitely has inspired me to do more birthstone styles. Being able to connect with other moms who want stones to commemorate their kids inspired my work.
With all of this inspiration and change flowing in, how have you incorporated growing your business the past few years?
I’ve been able to grow my business in the past couple years through organic partnerships and social media. I almost feel like I’m over the hump with the whole social media craze but I have actually found some really amazing and talented women who I partner with, almost more as friends now, to help spread the word and share some beautiful photography from all around the globe.
"I have actually found some really amazing and talented women who I partner with, almost more as friends now, to help spread the word"
We love that- using social media to lift each other up! If you could give one piece of advice for a woman starting her own business what would it be?
For anybody looking to start their own business no matter what avenue or genre I recommend keeping it as professional as it is fun. The love for art is always going to be what lights the fire but in order to keep the fire going and to reach an audience great enough to sustain a livable wage you need to honor your job. And work hard for it. Never turn off your fire. And don’t be afraid. Even if you only have something that 5% of the world would ever want that’s still totally amazing! The more that’s out there the more people will gravitate to your gusto.
"... Honor your job. And work hard for it. Never turn off your fire. And don't be afraid"
What’s your favorite stone? Right now my favorite stone is Tanzanite. I love Kyanite as well as sapphire which I think I’m going to add a little bit more of into my collection.
Is there another artist or jeweler you see as a role model? I absolutely love Polly Wales. Her melted metal look reminds me of something from a historical kingdom.
What was the last book you read or podcast you listened to? I read psychology/science-based books at night before bed. I’m also an audible maniac in the studio as well as podcasts, for audible I’m listening to ‘Mastering your Mean Girl’ by Melissa Ambrosini and for my favorite podcasts I love IGNTD and Hidden Brain.
What’s next for your business? Where do you want to take it? Next up for my business will be the fine jewelry collection! I’m building my credentials up a couple stories this year by adding 14 karat gold styles that are going to blow everybody out of the water.