How did you get to where you are today?
While I was studying fine art and design in Korea I decided to take a gap year to New Zealand to visit my family who had moved to Christchurch. I immediately fell in love with this beautiful country, open spaces and the laid-back lifestyle so I decided to also move here after completing my studies in Korea.
How did you learn your craft?
In Auckland attended Peter Minturn Goldsmith School to become a qualified jeweller, where the training was focused on making traditional engagement rings and wedding rings. The skills I picked up from the fine art and design course at university came into play for the main carving techniques used in my Flower Garden Pieces.
After the graduation from the goldsmith school, I designed and made jewellery for a jewellery business in Auckland as a freelancer. Making a range of jewellery for them involved lots of wax carving. Running my own business was a good experience. However, I wanted to work for experienced jewellers, so I can develop my skills further. When another jewellery business offered me a jeweller position, I took the job. Since then, I worked as a jewellery designer and consultant, and a jeweller for other businesses. All these experiences were valuable and they gave me confidence to start Winter in July.
What would you say your personal style is like or takes inspiration from?
I love Art Nouveau, which celebrates natural forms such as curves of plants and flowers. I think it’s reflected in my jewellery. I like to wear clean-line, simple clothing with intricately detailed jewellery.
What do you enjoy about making and designing jewellery?
I like how personal taste is more important than trend when it comes to jewellery. Unlike many fashion items, the trend doesn’t change from season to season.
Fine jewellery can be passed down to generations. It gives more creative freedom to design jewellery than designing shoes. I like seeing my idea on a piece of paper materalise as a three dimensional piece. I also love receiving feedback from my customers; hearing how my jewellery made them or their loved ones happy – which makes me happy!
What is your process from design conception to the final product?
When I decide on a theme, e.g. Flower Garden, I gather lots of relevant photos. I do lots of sketches from different angles. Based on the sketches, I come up with a few different designs, and then select some of them. Once I have the final designs, I start making them by fabricating a bar of metal or wax carving. These become the master patterns. I send them to a local casting company to get moulds made and cast them in the desired metal. I clean up, solder multiple pieces together, give a final polish or satin finish and they become final products. It takes a really long time to design and make each piece.
What do you like to do in your spare time
I’m a homebody! I like watching Netflix, Youtube videos and drawing. I like to draw anything that I find interesting. Flowers, landscape, animals, people, or interesting details on buildings. Sometimes they become inspiration for my jewellery.
My favourite local spots are Takapuna beach and Killarney park, which overlooks beautiful Lake Pupuke. I love to sit there and read a book or draw. I also like the countryside feel of Cornwall park in One Tree Hill, with its large grounds and animals. I also like going to Devonport, because the ocean view is beautiful and there’s one of my favourite cafes. If I’m venturing further afield, I like going to the spa in Rotorua and doing activities on the lake in Taupo.
How have you been since the Covid-19 pandemic? Has it had a major impact on your way of life?
My husband and I moved back to Auckland from Melbourne in March in the early stages of Covid-19. With the slow job market, I decided to take a leap of faith and start my own brand. I’ve been building my flower garden collection for the last 4 years in my free time while working full time. Having my own brand has always been my dream. During the lockdown, I spent my time watching countless photography tutorials on Youtube, taking photos and building a website.
Without the pandemic, I would’ve launched the brand a lot later. For me, it’s the silver lining of the situation.
What are you looking forward to learning next?
I’m interested in learning glass enamelling. Beautiful enamel work can make flower themed jewellery look great, as it makes the colours look vivid. I can do cold enamel, but cold enamel can get damaged when it’s heated. It is a labour-intensive process that requires a high level of skill and care, and it’s something that not many people can do. Many jewellery pieces use cold enamelling because of cost.
I’d also love to learn pottery making. Jewellery is very small scale. If you make it too big, It’ll be too heavy for the wearer. Pottery seems like a fun way to make bigger scale sculptural pieces.
Who are your favourite brands at the moment?
Jennifer Strange. They make good quality leather products. NZ made. I bought a business card holder from them. The leather is beautiful to look at and beautiful to touch!
Do you listen to music or podcasts while you make the jewellery? If so which artists/podcasts?
I listen to jazz music while making jewellery. Cafe music BGM and Chillhop Music on Youtube are my go to music channels. I also like listening to road trip play lists (Indie/pop/folk music) on Youtube.
What do you want for the future of Winter in July?
Eventually I would like to have a showroom for Winter in July, where people can try on jewellery or discuss bespoke jewellery ideas. I also want Winter in July to reach beyond New Zealand, to the rest of the world.
What advice would you give to those who are interested in starting their own company making jewellery or any other products in New Zealand?
Have faith and be patient; it can take time to build your business (something I remind myself). Offer unique products or services. We can’t compete with products made overseas with price; instead, we can focus on design and quality of products that we offer.