Freelancing Stories: Freelancing as a Jewellery Designer, With Jessi of Refined Bohemia

9 July 2017

I met jewellery designer Jessi from Refined Bohemia very randomly on Instagram last month. Ah the power of the internet and creating a community! From there I not only fell in love with her jewellery pieces, but found in her a true inspiration for my own freelancing adventure. This is why having her as next guest in my Freelancing Stories blog series was the very next idea that popped in my mind!

Jessi and her jewellery business are pure inspiration! Her boutique and products are truly unique... and I knew even before asking, she was going to have a lot of inspiring tips and ideas to share. Her story is all about believing in your dreams, setting small goals and finding your own way to do what you love for a living...

Freelancing Stories: On Running Your Dream Business As A Jewellery Design, with Jessi of Refined Bohemia

Photography by Kira Stein for Refined Bohemia

What do you do?

I’m a self-taught jewellery designer and student from Germany, who always had the dream of running her own little space of personal fulfillment. In September 2016 I founded Refined Bohemia as my dream come true. Via my online shop I sell boho- and bohème- inspired jewellery. The best part of my little business is that I can put all my creativity into use: whether it’s the jewellery itself, campaign-photographs, and videos or texts to capture the spirit behind my brand.

How did it all begin? When did you decide to go for it?

I can surely say creativity has always been a huge part in my life. I was always the crafty one...  Sewing my own clothes, painting, and my hands were, literally, always moving, when I was a teenager.

My love for photography and moving picture soon became an obsession, and together with friends I started thinking about elaborated photography series. When it came to creating props, jewellery, or crowns for the photoshoots, it was me crafting all the pieces needed. Back then I thought about creating a jewellery line. I wanted it to be both modern, and have, on the other hand, those leverages of all books, films, and jewellery from times ago, that influenced my work from the very start.

Dream-On collection by Refined Bohemia | Running a business as a jewellery designer

After finishing my internship in a creative agency and passing my bachelors-degree, I decided to give it a go. I planned to create pieces of jewellery that had the feel of one-of-a-kind-pieces but available in limited series. I started thinking in collections and creating photographs and videos that captured my vision.

What was your biggest goal or dream when you started?

The main reason why I started was my goal of creating my dream-life with my own hands.

But I also have plenty of “smaller goals” I’d like to achieve. For example, the month after my website’s launch, there was a little market I wished to attend to. Unfortunately, all market stalls were booked at that time. So I asked the organizer if there was a chance to attend with vendor’s tray. She said yes, and I refurbished an old cutlery tray to become a vendor’s tray. It was only a little space, but I was fully satisfied with it!

My head is full of these little dreams and I like to think in small steps: like finding boutiques that would love to display my pieces of jewellery, just to mention one more...

My biggest dream as a jewellery designer was creating a bridal-collection. And I was finally able to launch in Spring 2017! You know, I am not married, but I love dreaming of how a wedding could look like. I think that’s one of the things I love the most about freelancing: it’s you who is responsible for achieving your goals and creating your very own dream business!

How was it, when you took the risk? Anything you didn’t expect?

From time to time it’s quite hard managing my student-life and the life as an entrepreneur jewellery designer. Especially when exams are right behind the corner, and a new collection is right before its launch. These times are tough and really force me to focus. I try to plan ahead, but one can never be fully prepared for all the things happening while practicing. Thinking about the issues that may occur is a big deal but it shouldn’t stop you from trying to achieve your goals.

Did/do you have to face adversity?

There were some adversities I had to face at the very beginning, because I wasn’t fully prepared. My website was on this huge server-park in the US, and it had quite a lot down-times. It could be worse, yes, but it was quite annoying, getting emails that your site was down, and up, and down again.

Like I mentioned earlier, one can never be fully prepared. There will be adversities all over the way but they shouldn’t disturb the big picture.

Another point is money. Like you can imagine, a student’s salary is not that huge. I thought about financial help but I wanted to accomplish it on my own. So, the money I earn as a jewellery designer is fully charged back in my brand.

A third one is that you often have to explain yourself. Of course, I absolutely love to delight people with stories of my brand... But answering all the “Can you really live from it?”, and “Jewellery, huh. And then?” questions can bring you down. Because your dream-job should give you both: the money you need for your own little life, and, more importantly, happiness.

What’s your biggest goal for your freelance career at the moment?

My biggest goal is to be able to do whatever I love. There are responsibilities of course, and there is fear. But there is also the freedom to wake up and create the day like you wish it to be. You are not limited to working-hours, workspaces, etc.

Of course it needs discipline to get the things done, and there are lots of tasks that aren’t as fun as creating jewellery or being on the location of a photoshoot... Think of accounting or organizational works. But when you look back and recall the months that passed by, you will notice progresses that were created by no one else but yourself.

I love seeing pictures of people who wear the pieces of jewellery I create. The ways they work them into their very own styles really pushes me to keep on working.

Tell us the secret! Your best tip about freelancing?

Team up with like-minded people. I know it sounds simple, but there’s a lot more behind it. Really try to build a strong community, and to not feel ashamed talking about topics that bother you. Help each other with your own skills, and try to find your niche for giving something back to the people. Life is a give and take in its most different forms! The stronger your network of creative people becomes, the stronger you’ll be as well.

Maybe you live in an area where there is no freelancing-community. Then try to meet people online. Talking to people will make your freelance life so much easier, and you’ll notice there are people who struggle the same as you do. You can’t fail, that’s the point. You’re doing this on your own terms.

Want to be featured in the next episode of Freelancing Stories? I'd love to hear from you! If you run a freelance business (of any kind) and would like to share your inspiring story, please feel free to get in touch!

Giada Correale brand e web designer donna per business al femminile
Bonjour, hello!

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In this article:
Giada Correale brand e web designer donna per business al femminile
Bonjour, hello!

I'm Giada Correale, brand and web designer of Miel Cafè Design graphic studio. I design intentional and editorial brand identities and web designs for heartfelt women-owned businesses. 

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A creative atelier curating brand and web designs for women-owned businesses.
I design and curate intentional brand designs and websites to cultivate your idea and bring your value out there.