Feather & Fox by J. Reid
"Create what comes organically to you and allow people to connect with that." Julie Reid
To create something is one thing. To then show that creation to the world is another. Anyone who showcases their creations will tell you. It takes some courage. There is a process of overcoming fear. Fear of the critics who will undoubtedly tell the world that you are an imposter. That you are not nearly as good as others. That your shit sucks!
In this article I interview my wife Julie Reid about her business creation, Feather & Fox by J Reid. Jules explains how the business evolved and shares some insights into how she overcame her fears.
I might be her husband, but when you see her creations you will see I am not bias. Jules has bucket loads of style and talent but what I really admire most is her determination to stay true to her style, and her courage to display that style for all to see.
Jules admits her style may not be everyones cup of tea, and yet she stays true, creating unique, artisan pieces that truely are a reflection of one beautiful and amazing human being.
INSPIRATION - What originally inspired this business idea?
The concept of Feather and Fox started a long time ago. Originally it was nothing to do with jewellery, for me it was about creating something that had elements of passion, femininity and masculinity. His and Hers. I was not sure at the time what would come of it but thats what stuck with me.
CONCEPTION - How did it start out?
I always liked working with my hands. As a young girl my grandmother taught me embroidery, I’d do it for a bit, loose interest then she taught me to crochet, lost interest again. I later learned to sew and knit teaching myself through books and really challenged myself creativity in those arts. I even lived on an island for 3 years, collecting shells, creating things with natural elements.
It’s sort of in the blood I guess (creative work with tools). My Grandfather was a woodworker and could carve amazingly tiny things out of wood. He had a workshop in the basement (tornado cellar) and I remember us kids where too scared to go down. Other Grandma would do cross stitch and what she created was awesome! My Dad was super creative with leather. I remember going into the attic and tinkering with his tools. My mum always creative too. I remember some cool clothes and crazy wallpaper. I was always driven in that direction but never felt I had the time space to develop something. As life happened I became time poor but in raising my boys, going through a divorce, moving to a new place, it sort of reinvigorated that need to draw on something for myself.
I always loved jewellery and the meaning behind it. Not just the regular shop bought pieces but certain stores, like Twist and Silverado in Portland. They had all these local and emerging artists and I really connected with some of their work. This inspired me to start making jewellery with my own meaning. I took some short courses and read books, relied on common sense. I guess I felt like it just came very naturally working with silver and gold.
Another element of Feather and Fox is hand scribing the piece. I’ve always loved poetry. Shell Silverstein and Roald Dahl as a kid. Mum bought me beautiful books with poems and inspirational quotes. There were times where those books were quite poignant in my life. As I got older took an interest in poetry writing, though I didn’t write myself. Artist like Silvia Plath and Monique Duval’s “Persistence of Yellow”.
People always comment on my handwriting too. That skill came naturally though my admiration of my mums cursive. I wanted to write like her. What’s came out through Feather and Fox Jewellery is a culmination of all of these elements. I can use my writing, love of poetry and my craftiness. The bubble has popped. I finally found a way I can express it all.
ROAD BLOCKS AND DOUBTS - Was there anything holding you back?
Yeah just fear, fear of failing. What if nobody liking anything I created? Fear of ridicule and judgment you know, mostly just my own self doubt holding me back because everyone else is saying "do it!" and I didn’t believe in myself.
There is an element of style involved in making jewellery and therefore the vulnerability feels quite big. I am realising my jewellery isn’t for everyone and now I don’t have an expectation that it will connect with everyone. I appreciate that honesty and won’t deviate from my style to suit someone else. Thats why it’s important to me to create custom pieces where I maintain my creative control. They allow me to remain true to myself and develop my style. Oh and finance was a major road block too. It’s not a hobby thats inexpensive by any means.
SUPPORTERS - Who were your supporters and how did they support you?
I think my number one supporter was my husband, he supported me in taking the classes and he built my jeweller bench to get started and work from home. The kids were quite supportive too. They showed an interest in what I was creating. My parents and friends were all extremely supportive.
INVESTMENT - Roughly what cash/tools/equipment etc did you put into it and how did you raise the funds?
Roughly…. Five or Six Grand. Probably more. I had some savings and I have always been really good at saving money for a rainy day, but good at making up excuses as to why I shouldn’t spend the money I’d saved. This (jewellery making) became important enough. I saw it as a good enough of an opportunity. This was how I convinced myself to invest.
I was perhaps at a time in my life where I was more willing to take the risk. Over the last few years there have been some really difficult times personally. Life can change on a dime. If you don't take the risk to see what’s on the other side you miss out on knowing, as the saying goes "life is short", but as I get older, I believe the fear is what should drive me rather than hold me back. My feeling is that there is an even BIGGER risk not to pursue it.
SURPRISES - Was there anything you didn’t expect?
Yeah I didn’t expect it would take off so quickly. I intentionally didn’t do formal advertising. I’ve just been very conscious about the organic nature of how I gain peoples interest. Mostly through my posts on Insta and just talking to people about my craft when they ask about it. There may come a point in time where that will change (doing formal advertising) and I am conscious I will have to balance that so I remain organic in the way I connect with new people.
WINS - Whats your biggest win to date?
My first custom order was my biggest win but it made me feel afraid (she laughs). They were expecting me to create something very personal for them and trusted me to create something they connected with. I had to trust my artistic ability and in my gut. I think that was the point where I really gained some confidence in the fact that you know…calling myself an... I am an artist I guess… um, am I an artist? (blushing) it’s hard to even say it still.
CURRENT - Where you at now?
Im excited! Motivated and overwhelmed but its all positive, definitely still have self doubt but I have so much support.
GROWTH - Whats something you’ve learned?
To really believe in the failure aspect of the creative process. I am now more confident to begin to make something that might fail because if what I start doesn’t work out, it's the universe saying it’s not meant to be. I am ok to move it away from that and try something else.
It’s funny sometimes I have a simple idea of how the finished piece will look and I don’t even get to what I had in mind because it’s finished before it get to the end. Does that make sense?
If people connect with my jewellery they would probably connect with me as a person and being ok with the reality that not everyone would connect with me as a person.
REGRETS - What would you have done differently? (if anything)
I would have done it sooner perhaps. With me, my progression was fairly organic so I don’t think I would change too much.
Um…. Yeah. If you have a gut feeling that there is something that you have to offer thats unique and fulfilling for you personally and you can share it in a business sense, make some investigations and just start. Don’t be afraid about all of the particulars. Trust in just starting and things will fall into place. It even might turn out a little different to what you thought, but perhaps turn out even better.
Also you might have days where you feel like your moving in the wrong direction. It will pass and something will happen to redirect you. Momentum will build when you weren’t expecting it. Stay true to your core and be organic. Don’t try to create things that sell for the highest profit or what you think will appeal to people. Create what comes organically to you and allow people to connect with that.