Last winter, I got really into crochet, so I decided to get a little funky and crochet around seed beads to create a sort of boho, layered necklace. It turned out really neat, but left me with carpal tunnel and practically blind (not really, but it really was a painfully creative experience). When my little sister’s birthday rolled around, I attempted something far easier and made her a few pairs of long, Swarovski crystal earrings. I also tried my hand (sanity) at bending wire to make her a monogrammed necklace, (so not easy, by the way). It ended up looking more like a fish than a lowercase “a”, but she loved it, so I’ll consider it a win. My jewelry-making adventures left me with a newfound appreciation for jewelry design and fabrication. It is an art which requires an impressive amount of patience and creativity, not to mention a knack for trend-setting and bijoux extraordinaire, Jane Pope Cooper, has it all. The simple and elegant pieces she creates for her eponymous collection, Jane Pope Jewelry, are a breath of fresh air and Hollywood starlets agree – they rock JPJ beauties on and off the red carpet, and it’s easy to see why!
NAME Jane Pope Cooper
LOCATION Spartanburg, South Carolina
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND Graduated from UNC, Studied at the GIA, Studied Jewelry fabrication in Savannah and NYC
COMPANY Jane Pope Jewelry
ESTABLISHED First line, BALBOA, established in 2001; Fine jewelry line, Jane Pope Jewelry, launched 2006
Tell me a bit about yourself & how you got started designing jewelry. I started designing costume jewelry in 2000, under the name BALBOA JEWELRY. We were picked up by BARNEYS NY in the first 6 months and featured in Elle, Glamour, and Lucky magazines. It was pretty surreal. After 6 years, I became increasingly interested in fine jewelry. I went back to design school at the GIA in Los Angeles in 2006 to study fine jewelry design. I launched Jane Pope Jewelry in 2006 with a small collection of pieces inspired by organic lines and forms. I continued my fabrication training in NYC when my hubby was in graduate school. After a short stint in DC, we are now located in SC with our two babies, Wade and Pope, and our dog Billy.
Your collection has such a fresh, organic, goes-with-everything look to it. Where do you find your inspiration? How has it changed over the years? I started with very bold jewelry made from reworked vintage elements, so my design style has changed quite a bit since 2001. I love easy, wearable pieces that you don’t want to take off. I am inspired by everything… shapes and textures in natural objects, architectural lines, really anything I come in contact with!
What is the design process like? It varies depending on the piece, but it is usually a very sculptural process. I sketch designs sometimes, but find that I am more anxious to jump into carving the wax form. My technique would likely make my former teachers cringe. It is way more “crazy artist” than trained jeweler : )
How did you get the word out about Jane Pope Jewelry when you first launched? Did a particular press opportunity help to jumpstart the marketing effort? I was featured in VOGUE in 2008, so that gave my brand validation. I think blogs are the way to get your name out there now. If you have a big time blogger that loves your jewels and wears them and promotes them, people will know about your brand. It is wild how much influence bloggers can have on your sales.
It must be such a fantastic feeling to see celebrities rocking your jewelry. Did you ever anticipate your collection garnering superstar attention? It is always fun to see a celeb loving your work enough to wear it. They have access to everything and anything, so for them to choose my work, is beyond flattering. Entourage’s Perrey Reeves wore a cuff and pair of custom hoop earrings to the Emmy’s. That was pretty amazing.
What is one pearl of wisdom you would share with budding entrepreneurs? Hmm…work for someone else before going out on your own. I think there are invaluable lessons to be gained when you work for someone else in your industry. I never did it, and wish that I had in some ways. Be prepared for lots of hard – and mostly fun : ) – work! You have to have a fire inside you that wants to make things happen. Love what you do. There are certainly times when you may want to quit, but if you love what you do, then you will push through. Have fun with it! Working for yourself and being an entrepreneur is challenging, but should also be fun.
Guilty pleasure? Chocolate Coconut milk ice cream with a spoonful of almond butter (I eat it almost every night!)
Favorite animated movie? I have two children who are obsessed with Frozen. I love any animated movie that is written with adult humor (disguised of course).
Cake or pie? Cake Peninsula Grill coconut cake was my wedding cake. I want a piece right now! Check it out here
Go-to recipe? I love to cook and do it a lot, but I hardly ever use a recipe. I love them for inspiration, but I have a hard time following recipes. I am a wing it kinda girl.