Bonjour Royal Friends!
Welcome to my blog where I share princess secrets to help you maximize your happiness mojo, power up your positive energy, and become a beacon of light in the world!
Today I’m excited to share the next adventure in my series for a wonderful life: #ENCHANTING DISCOVERIES…PEOPLE, PLACES, THINGS! Today’s Enchanting Discovery is the lovely Jen Ecklund-Bistline, the talented, soulful, entrepreneur jewelry maker and founder of ViaLove Designs.
I first discovered (and fell gaga over) Jen and ViaLove Designs when one of my dearest girlfriends gave me a necklace from Jen’s collection for my birthday. It’s a beautiful silver statement piece that can be worn long or wrapped as a choker, a versatility built into so many of Jen’s elegant creations. I adore the charming fleur de lis charm that dangles from this piece (my GF knows I love all things Frenchie, so this was a perfect choice for moi.) I wanted to see more where this came from!
Another quality I love about Jen’s pieces is that they have a romantic air about them that’s evocative of bygone eras. Or one could say, romantic “heir,” since the high-end old world quality make them seem like heirlooms from my royal past! I later learned Jen characterizes her creations as having, “Old World Charm.” They absolutely do!
Many of Jen’s pieces are one-of-a-kind unique and you won’t see them worn by anyone else. This I learned the hard way because I bought an absolutely gorge piece for a friend and a short time later I tried to buy the same piece for myself. No can do! Is there a word for that? I think it’s the opposite of buyer’s remorse! No, maybe, “Ya snooze, ya lose, princess.”
And so the interview begins!
P DvB: Let’s start with a little background about you. Tell us about your life before jewelry making!
JE: Before jewelry making I worked in the corporate world as an Executive Assistant. Even though I did that for many years, it feels like I’ve been designing jewelry all my life.
P DvB: How did you get interested in creating your beautiful jewelry?
JE: I have loved fashion for as long as I can remember- especially accessorizing. Years ago when I had an office job, I enjoyed dressing up for work but could never find jewelry that suited my taste and worked with my corporate wardrobe. Everything felt outdated and uninteresting. That’s when I knew I was just going to have to create my own jewelry and so I began studying jewelry design. I would come home each evening and would teach myself how to wire wrap stones and various other techniques. Finally I had created a few pieces I really liked and I began wearing them to work. I was happily surprised by the positive feedback I received from my colleagues. Shortly after they were placing custom orders with me and occasionally purchasing pieces straight off my neck!
P DvB: How did you arrive at the name of your company, ViaLove?
JE: Well that’s an interesting story. When I first began my business back in 2002, I took a poll with my family to help me choose the best name for my business. We all decided we liked “Jen Ecklund Designs” the best and so JenEcklund Designs was born and that is the business name I used for years. Then 9 years ago I was listening to a teaching series all about Love— that love is the most important thing we can learn and do in this life. Love is patient, kind, selfless and it never dies. It was through this teaching that I began to evaluate myself and how I viewed my business. I did not want my business to be about me- showcasing me or my art – but about something more. I wanted my jewelry to be impactful and to touch a person’s soul. Everything I do is with that in mind. It’s about how I maintain a sense of peace when I work. I will not create something if I feel stressed. I listen to beautiful, calming music and often pray while I’m working. It’s about having integrity in my business and with everyone I work with from vendors to customers. Every piece of jewelry is designed and created by me- one piece at a time, never mass produced. All of these tenets are the backbone of ViaLove and why I chose this business name. It’s important to me that everything I do be done in love – Via Love.
P DvB: Do you ever work in other media?
JE: I have worked with leather previously and hope to include it in more of my upcoming designs.
P DvB: Where do the ideas for your art come from?
JE: Well since I have been designing for so many years, I have heaps and heaps of materials to work with. I have 3 work spaces that I use in my office. One is my beautiful desk handmade by my husband, another table is full of designs ready to be turned into jewelry along with lots of materials all organized in trays. But my favorite work space is my 3rd table which I purposely keep “messy”. It is here that I find my best designs among this beautiful collection of random chaos! I have gemstones, chains, pendants and charms all scattered about. My favorite past-time is playing with all these materials until I find new designs. When I create I am trying to achieve just the right balance of weight (visually), the right color values and a unique eye catching design. If the new piece doesn’t have all those elements, it gets scrapped and I start all over.
P DvB: Tell me about any inspiration for and interesting info or stories behind some of your incredible collections. For example, the coin jewelry, St. Benedict, Ancient Bronze, and any others.
JE: The inspiration for the Old World feel of my jewelry stems from the years I worked abroad in England. During this time I was able to travel all over Europe. It was life changing and I live with the wonderful memories every day. When I create new pieces, I am catapulted back in time when I walked through the ancient castles and peered out of a turret looking out on ancient battlefields or the medieval gothic cathedrals with breathtaking stained glass windows, high towers decorated with spires and pinnacles. I fell in love with the beauty, history and architecture of Old World Europe…I can still feel the cobblestone roads under my feet as I walked to work.
P DvB: Can you tell us about the Renaissance feeling of your pieces?
JE: I think of it more as a medieval feeling when I am designing- at least with my favorite pieces. I want my jewelry to have a feeling of boldness while at the same time balanced with grace and beauty. I adore juxtaposing elements— old world bronze and oxidized silver with translucent gemstones. The ancient stained glass windows in cathedrals being my inspiration.
P DvB: I see some references to royalty there. That’s very interesting to a princess like me! Can you tell us a little bit about that?
JE: The royalty theme you may have observed in my jewelry is my belief that we are all precious and deeply loved by God, the King above all Kings. We are made in His image. I believe He created us and we are His sons and daughters, which means we are royalty.
P DvB: I recently bought a piece of yours with moonstones that was really lovely. How do you decide what gems to work with in your pieces?
JE: It’s about so many components coming together— the stones combined with just the right chain. Each aspect of the design needs to be balanced with just the right colors and shapes. I like to design with a bit of boldness balanced with something graceful.
P DvB: Are you ever short on inspiration? If so, what do you do to get back in your groove?
JE: Not very often. I have so many gemstones and a huge collection of chains and pendants both new and vintage. It’s just a matter of taking them all out and trying different things until I feel the design is balanced and it just comes together.I also love looking at books of old cathedrals for inspiration.
P DvB: Do you have any hobbies? Did your business start out as a hobby?
JE: I suppose it did. When I would come home at night from my corporate job, I would spend my evenings designing new pieces of jewelry to wear to work the next day. My other hobbies include cooking and hiking but my greatest passion outside of designing jewelry is antique collecting and interior design. I love collecting and decorating with unusual vintage pieces.
P DvB: Were there any obstacles you had to overcome to get where you are today?
JE: My greatest challenges have been:
1) knowing when to leave my office job to pursue jewelry designing full time, and
2) incorporating my design aesthetic into a brand. In my early years, I designed many pieces of jewelry based upon what I thought other people would want to buy. And they did buy it, it just wasn’t the look I wanted for my line. It wasn’t until I started designing to suit my tastes that my brand developed.
P DvB: You seem to have a pretty good entrepreneurial spirit; can you tell us about that? Your business journey?
JE: Ever since I was a child, I always knew I wanted to have my own business. I remember joking at the dinner table one night as a kid saying, “even if I just make napkins, I just want my own business!” For a number of years I worked in the investment banking field. It was exciting to work with small startup companies and see them go public. I was in awe of the dedication and risk these small business owners took so on some level I believe that exposure inspired me to start my own business.
P DvB: Any advice for people who might be interested in expressing themselves through jewelry making but don’t know the first thing about it?
JE: Well first I would say start out very small. Begin experimenting with different materials and styles until you are ready to take the next step. Working as a Jewelry Designer full time literally takes most of us years and years to get to the point where we have a solid income.
P DvB: Any fun factoids about you you’d like us to know?
JE: I love coffee time with my 2 dogs in the morning- playing toss with them in between sips of coffee in the morning is truly my favorite time of the day. I am obsessed with spicy foods – I must eat jalapenos, Cholula or red pepper flakes on almost everything I eat. I refuse to fold socks. I wear black about 98% of the time. My vintage black cowboy boots are my favorite accessory. Good manners are underrated. My glass is always half full.
P DvB: Where can my readers find or reach you?
JE: Website: ViaLoveDesigns.com
So that’s the story, and here’s to the glory of having a hunkydory-dory day! Before you go, please SUBSCRIBE to my BLOG which helps boosts the algorithm so more people can find my happiness tips!
Bonjour! I’m Princess Diane Von Brainisfried™
Motivational Speaker. Certified Life Coach. Award-Winning Writer. Breast Cancer Survivor. Offering seminars and coaching using humor to inspire happiness.
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