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7 life lessons from successful jewelry designers

In Costa Rica I shared a workshop with some of the top jewellery designers in the country. They became friends and inspiration both for design and life. These are the 7 things I learnt from them. I hope they are as inspiring to you as they are to me. Their advice is applicable for anyone who wants to pursue their dreams (not just designers).
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  1. DO WHAT YOU LOVE
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When I started going to jewellery workshop there would be about 5 girls that would ALWAYS be there. Day or night; rain or shine, weekday or weekend; soar, burnt hands, manicured or not. They have given up a lot – only that they don´t feel like they have, because they LOVE what they do. They would work through lunches, arrive early or leave late and it did not matter.
The results were breathtaking, beautiful pieces that (quite honestly) have a bit of their soul welded into them. Simply because they love what they do.
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  1. LIFE TAKES YOU UNEXPECTED WAYS  – TAKE THE RISK .
When I asked them how the started designing jewellery they answered this:
Jimena: “ I went to college and studied advertising design… after that life took me to study jewellery design. Most of my designs are graphic design inspired…” Her past gives her designs a unique sense and identifies her brand.
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Ari: “I think I got to the world of jewellery without knowing it.” Being a fashion designer, Ari fell very ill, and her new found passion for jewellery played a huge part on her recovery.
The conclusion is that not all of us find our passion at the first shot. But it is vital that when we do, we take the risk to pursue it. It doesn’t matter if you switch paths half way through. Whatever you learnt in the past WILL become useful. Embrace life and abrupt changes.
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  1. FEAR IS FUEL
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Jimena: “ I think fear is very important because if one is not scared of something then…well, in life you have to take risks and overcome fears, if you don’t, if what you do is not challenging then it won´t help you grow. “
And that´s it. If it doesn´t challenge you it will not help you grow, and fear is our biological detector for real challenges, if you are not afraid then you are still in your comfort zone, and where will that get you besides where you already are?
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  1. START SMALL
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Having a jewellery collection is a HUGE project. It requires a phase of inspiration, research, material procurement, craftsmanship of several pieces, quality control, marketing, and a whole lot more. . . so, how does one confront life´s giants? How do we create our masterpieces and pursue what appear to be unattainable dreams?
Starting small.
Both Jimena and Ari start their collections creating what will probably be their smallest piece: rings. It is something close to their heart, and something that will allow them to get a sense of where they are going and feel accomplished. Small pieces like this help them evaluate the path they want to take for the rest of their collection. Life´s big projects should be approached this way: start small, and plan to build on top of that, one brick, link and diamond at a time.
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  1. GREATNESS COMES FROM DIFFICULTY
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Jimena: “ When life throws the greatest difficulties at you, that is when life forces you to grow…” Arianna: “ Yes. Abruptly. Its grow or die”.
Being as successful and talented as they are in their art, none had a smooth ride getting to where they are today. They have had impasses that have catapulted them into what they do now. Whether it is circumstantial, physical or internal, difficulties are bound to happen. They are opportunities if we are intelligent and brave enough to take them. So don´t give up on the first bump.
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  1. BE PATIENT & PERSEVERE
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Have you ever seen a jewellery piece being made? Have you ever taken months to create something and then seen it fall apart with the LAST detail? It happens.
Guys, this is coming from one of the most impatient person you will ever know. I am a technology geek, a millennial, and multi-tasker that cannot wait for pages to load. I have learnt a thing or two from these girls and from the craft itself.
Rome really was not built in a day.
Neither are the perfect earrings, and neither will our dreams. Patience is key. Otherwise, we may give up before the good stuff begins. So deep breaths – and remember patience is not sitting around waiting. It is working hard until “it” comes.
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  1. NEVER STOP LEARNING & FINDING INSPIRATION
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Ariana: “It is a great feeling to suddenly realise you know jewellery at a designer level, or feel like you understand your business”
Jimena” I think it is really important for people to realise that we must always keep learning. We must always be reading a lot, and searching to find out what other creative people are doing, I don’t know, maybe even in other industries different to ours”
If the world keeps moving, and new talents keep rising, why should we stop? We must always keep moving, keep creating, keep learning. If we are part of a society and a world-wide system, why should we not communicate and grow from other´s experience? Which brings me to the last point.
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  1.  SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
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The final quarter of the year is a busy season for designers around the world due to the amount of events and demand. I have felt the pressure too, with our product design company (alvadelaselva.com).
It is impossibly hard to see everyone else go out to parties on christmas season while one has to prepare for sales and deliver orders.  The solution?
Jimena” You have to create your community….people who share the work ethic and environment than you so you can give and find support where needed”
We are not an Island. The best work is produced with great support – so lets work together! Collaborations are the future, egos and working alone is for past generations. Today, in order to evolve, to innovate, and be successful as designers, entrepreneurs or as people, we must surround ourselves with inspiring minds and most importantly – not only minds that think alike, but minds that challenge us.
Jime, Ari, thank you for your time, your help in the shop and for inspiring us with your craft.
See you soon. Pura Vida.
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JIMENA BOLAÑOS JOYERIA JEWELRY
JIMENA BOLAÑOS is an experienced jeweller and gemstone expert certified by the GIA (the international authority in gemmology). She studied in NY and excelled there before returning to her natal Costa Rica. Her technique is impeccable, and her designs are a blend between bohemian and elegant, but always clean cut. (you should see her chains!). Although I´m not sure she is fully aware of it, Jimena is an innate businesswoman who has positioned her brand through hard work and continual presence in Costa Rica´s top designer events and fairs. I first came across her designs on her Etsy Online Shop, and met her months later on a “how to price your work” workshop at Crisol, the jewellery workshop that we both attended. Today, I wear her rings every. single. day.
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ARIANA CASTILLO is a fashion designer turned jeweller after a life threatening illness. Her designs have been worn in Fashion week runways and worn by some of the most important bloggers in Central America. Her bespoke, unique, raw style is unmistakable, and her pieces are treasured by all those who possess them. Before sharing a working space with her, I first met her at the National Contemporary Art and Design museum in Costa Rica, where she exhibited one of her first collections. With a shared passion for unique pieces and content-injected design, I fell in love with her pieces at first sight. She is my go-to accent accessory guru.
Here is a bit of that day

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