(left) Amy photographed by Lavenda Memory
I was lucky enough to stumble upon Junghwa while browsing Etsy the other day and realized that I had seen the lovely work of Amy Stewart around town and online many times before. My jaw about hit the ground as I browsed her many amazing jewelry & packaging designs. Truth be told, I struggled to choose just one because I wanted to buy up the whole lot!
I was even more excited to find out that Amy is a local designer here in the Northwest and was willing to do a little interview right here at JARFLY. She and I got to catch up a little bit and I was able to learn some about her journey, style and family life. You won't want to miss this one!
AND don't forgot to stop by tomorrow as we host an amazing Junghwa GIVEAWAY right here...you could win a truly gorgeous necklace! Amy has also offered a special discount to all JARFLY readers...see details at the bottom of the interview! Boy are we spoiled this week...let's take a little time now to get to know Amy and her lovely work...
Name, Age, Location
Amy Stewart, Newly 33, born in Portland OR, lived in Seattle WA, residing in Vancouver WA
What was the most basic catalyst for you launching your business and when did it begin?
I come from an extremely creative family and I've always been a very imaginative and creative person. Even when I was very young, I was always drawing, painting or making something. I would tell everyone that someday I would own my business making something and the brand would be called Junghwa. So a few years ago my sister, the very successful business owner, pushed me into starting my own business on Etsy. I opened in January of 2010 while also working as a medical assistant. Then I got pregnant and wanted to work exclusively, so I left the medical world behind and dove full-time into my business Junghwa by Amy Stewart.
How would you describe your jewelry and products?
Simple everyday pretty™
What are a few things you draw on for inspiration when designing jewelry?
Simplicity. I think about a shape or color that I think would enhance a piece of clothing and I go from there. Sometimes, I doodle while daydreaming and ideas just come to me.
What are your favorite colors, supplies and locations for creating?
Right now I absolutely love gold, electric blue, and coral. I would love to make an entire collection of just those colors. My favorite supplies at the moment are gold filled anything, my brass spikes, and macrame rope. I have a great office but I usually like to create my pieces on my dining table so I can spread out all my supplies. I like to see everything at once.
What do you love about life as an artist….what could you live without?
I love that all those thoughts and ideas in my head can come to life and make someone smile. I love that I can do what I love from anywhere I want. And I love that I make my own schedule. No more alarm clocks going off early in the morning! I could do without the mess. No matter how organized I am, at the end of the day there are supplies everywhere. Especially my packaging. It has taken over 2 rooms and the garage. My next goal is a studio!!
What is your greatest dream for Junghwa?
To grow and expand the brand into clothing. Designing clothing has always been my ultimate dream and passion.
By the way, where did your business name derive from?
Junghwa is my legal middle name and also the Korean name that my parents gave to me. My grandparents from my dad's side were the only people who ever called me by that name. They both passed away from cancer many years ago. It holds a lot of meaning to me and I think of them when I think of the name.
Your Etsy Shop has become very successful. Describe your journey from the beginning to now.
My journey was tough. I first started with a little clothing and some scarves. Then a couple necklaces. I really wasn't sure what my main focus was going to be. Then I started making rope bracelets which took off and got my name out there. And then I started making linen drawstring pouches for shop owners and as wedding favors and I could barely keep up with the demand! I chose to continue making jewelry and pouches because between the two my business had more stability. I found it very hard to manage working all day at the job I was at and then coming home to work until I went to bed. Making my business my full-time career was the most logical next step for me. My next hurdle, which also continues to be a difficulty for me, is dealing with people who copy my designs. I would work 7 days a week, all around the clock trying to keep up with my growing business, raise my baby, and constantly come up with new ideas to stay ahead of my copycats. I sacrifice a lot and it is very discouraging when all your hard work gets copied and sold for much less. But then I think of my family and amazing customers and it keeps me motivated and moving along. I keep pushing and striving and through all the struggles, I've reached a point where I feel really good about what I'm doing. My pieces are available in boutiques all over the world, and are worn by people in more countries than I can count. Its just a truly amazing feeling.
Something Blue Necklace in Sliver
What have you learned about yourself since beginning of this?
That I'm not a quitter and I'm also a workaholic. And that I'm stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.
Any silly habits or hobbies you don’t mind telling us about?
I always leave a little food on my plate. I always "knock on wood". Even though I have a super smart phone, I have post-it notes everywhere. I almost never sit on a chair with my feet on the ground. Hobbies... well shopping of course, DIY projects around the house, paintballing, target practice and one hobby I would love to get back into is playing my piano and violin.
Finally, any big sister advice for anyone out there seeking to build a Website, Etsy shop, or Small Business?
Yes, my biggest piece of advice is to create, don't copy. Be original. Have a clear idea of what you want before you start so you can flow right into the swing of things instead of struggling along the way. Have all your items setup and photographed. Have your branding and packaging established. Small business owners and Etsy-ians should all work together, not against each other. Always respect the people around you because you never know where your next big opportunity will come from. And do what you love. Don't try to force yourself to love what you do. It really shows when you are not truly passionate about what you are creating and selling.
As a person currently in school and building some dreams, I found Amy's advice and story very helpful as well as inspiring! I'd like to offer up a very special thank you to Amy for being a lovely and gracious guest here at JARFLY. We are so very grateful!
If that wasn't enough....
Amy has generously offered a 15% discount to all JARFLY readers. So head over to her STORE and use the code JARFLY15 when you checkout! This offer is good through 7/31/12...so don't delay!
See You TOMORROW....