Louisa Guild Jewelry is all about creating pieces that balance trends and traditions in jewelry design. The outcome is beautiful timeless pieces that hold a bit of history and show the world who the wearer is. In a world of fast fashion it’s hard to stand out, but Louisa Guild produces using a lost wax method of sculpture, making her pieces unique. The Not Found interviewed designer Louisa Colmore Hurst of Louisa Guild about her story. Louisa gave us a rundown of what to do and what not to do when becoming a designer and creating a brand.
When did you start Louisa Guild Jewelry and where has the brand gone since the beginning?
I started Louisa Guild In the fall of 2012. My sister and I had a jewelry line that we collaborated on prior to 2012 but for various reasons that ended. I applied for office day jobs and actually was hired. Two weeks before I was supposed to start, I called and declined the job because I was not ready to give jewelry up. I decided that with the 3 pieces I had designed, I would apply for a retail show in Houston that my sister and I had never made it into. It was a long shot but I just had the notion to try, I got in! I started designing like crazy! Since then, I continue to try to grow my retail business as well as my wholesale. I am in 20 plus retail shops and it keeps growing.
Besides your grandmother what keeps you inspired daily and is reflected in your work?
I am inspired daily by nature. I go for runs and walks and come home with all sorts of bugs and grasses that I want to emulate the texture of or shape of. I am also inspired by delicate balances and space between trends and traditions. I am an interior designer and I think that the pieces a person has in their home should mean something to the dweller. This translates to my jewelry in that I think the pieces you wear on your body should speak to your soul and be an extension of who you are. Trendy jewelry is hard for me. I like lasting jewelry that speaks to the individual who wears it. I am sentimental and I like old things that have been loved. In general, people who like antique jewelry, like my jewelry. I want my pieces to become a part of someone’s story.
What is the most difficult aspect of being an emerging designer?
At the moment its understanding SEO and keywords. Apparently, SEO, Keywords and “rich text” is mandatory!? Excuse me, say what? It’s hard for me to find the time to know about all of this and to continue to keep my head focused on designing as well.
What do you think could be done to aid emerging designers in getting their start?
There is no shortage of creative people, however what creative people are typically short on is knowledge of how to run a business. I think anything that supports small creative businesses in that way is greatly needed. Furthermore, like the song in The Sound of Music says, “ Lets start at the very beginning” by supporting arts in schools. How could one know that they would like to pursue design if they are never given the opportunity in schools to explore it?
Do you manufacture and produce all your pieces yourself or do you outsource any aspect of your production?
I design all of my pieces. Most of my pieces are sculpted by my hands. Sometimes I have components of my pieces manufactured with a CAD system and then I add my own touches to the model. For the sake of time and safety, I do not cast my own pieces. Molten metals, children and dogs everywhere don’t mix well. I assemble all of my pieces and do most of my own soldering.
Can you explain this “lost wax method” in detail and why you choose to produce this way
Lost wax casting or investment casting dates back like 5,000 years or something crazy like that. Of course the fact that it is an ancient way of manufacturing appeals to me completely, however, it is really the only way I know to manufacture my soft wax creations. Lost wax is a process by which a wax design has a ceramic material (investment) poured around it to make a hollow shell of the design. The wax is then burned out of the investment leaving a hollow space in the shape of the design. Metal generally used for jewelry (gold, silver or bronze) is then melted and poured into the investment and fills that hollow space. When the investment is removed, voila, your casted piece! The piece is then sanded and polished to a smooth finish or not, depending on the design. I hand sculpt my pieces using a soft sculptures wax. For sculpture, lost wax casting is really the only way I know to manufacture.
What is some advice good and bad you would give any young or new designer?
I don’t want to give bad advice so here are some Do’s and Dont’s:
- Find a spot where your designs sell well and keep going there. It will be your beacon in the slow times and a reminder that you do have what it takes.
Educate yourself on your craft so that you know where you are wasting money.
Find a class on running a small business and take good notes.
Make a point daily to be grateful for all your successes and failures. They all have their place in your evolution, which is what I tell myself.
Make a habit to trust where your road is taking you and that the universe is unfolding just the way it should. I wouldn’t pretend that I have mastered this but I make it my daily practice to dwell on that notion.
Compare yourself to other designers
Let other people sign your checks
Worry (Which is what I tell myself)
How do you measure your success and where do you see your brand in the next 3 years?
I truly think that every sale I make is a success. The fact that someone wants to spend their money on something I made, is huge for me. I hope that I never lose that feeling. I love to be at a show and have a customer come in and really get where I am coming from; that to me, is success. I hope to grow my online presence in the next 3 years and that I will continue to evolve as a designer. I also want to do more designs using precious metals and gemstones.
What is your favorite piece of work?
My favorite piece of work is like a moving target. I think the one piece that has stayed on top for the past few years is my Silver Horn. It was the first piece I sculpted for Louisa Guild Jewelry. I had two friends order it right off the bat and I think it was the first piece that let me know that I could do this on my own. The Horn is also traditionally a symbol of abundance which is always good.
What keeps you motivated?