Experienced marketer and arts lover Jen Kreilich has lived in the creative world for almost twenty years. This week, she launched her own jewelry line - J.Lux. We asked Jen to tell us about her journey so far.
You’re an advertising pro and now have launched your own jewelry line. What inspired you to start a second path?
It’s been a long road. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and have been inspired by creative types, so my career has served me well. However, I was always having daydreams and ideas about ‘what I really wanted to be when I grow up’. My inspiration wasn’t a lightening bolt. It was a slow awakening and a perfect storm of circumstances that enabled me to realize 1) I am an entrepreneur and 2) I can be the creative.
I found the last little nudge with the amazing entrepreneurs and artists I’ve met the last two years through my independent consulting clients, my time on the board at Public Functionary (a social art space/gallery in NE Minneapolis), and the supportive network of other MN women making beautiful things.
My obsession with jewelry was sparked by my grandmother, Frances Lux. Mrs. Lux and Iris Apfel would have been best of friends. My grandmother had an outfit for any occasion and the coordinating accessories to match them all. Hats, shoes, belts, matching lipstick and oh the jewelry! I’d spend days on the floor in front of her vanity cabinet where she had all of her (mostly costume) jewelry meticulously sorted by color and material and stored in little baggies with twisty ties. Gigantic pearls, never-ending chains of gold and silver, strings and strings of beads in every color and size. Later, as I grew up, she’d often come with bags of jewelry she ‘didn’t need anymore’ and I’d take them apart to make new pieces for myself.
What have you learned along the way?
I’ve always been a thinker, a processor. Everything had to be fully baked, complete, perfect. Which I see now paralyzed me in many ways. Giving myself the freedom to just do, to try and possibly fail was for me one of the hardest, and yet most liberating lessons I’ve learned along the way.
I’ve also come to understand that the fact I don’t know something (or anything in some cases) should not be a barrier if the passion is there. That I can lean on others for certain things and that I can learn new skills, which has been an invigorating, empowering and inspirational experience. I knew exactly what kind of pieces I wanted to make, the aesthetic, the materials. But I really had no idea how to work with leather, how to bend and fold and work with metal, where to find the best tools and resources, etc. Next up, I’m going to explore working with wax molds and metal casting.
What would you tell other women who want to make a passion “real”?
I’ve been joking lately that my new motto is F! it. As in F! it. I’m doing this. I’m doing it now and it will be iterative and a journey and I’m going to bring people along with me. My style will evolve, my craft will get refined and I will have fun and make beautiful things.
I also believe you have to pay attention. If you’re present and you are looking for signs to affirm your passion, you will find them. I don’t know how to articulate this one without sounding like a cheeseball (or telling a much longer story), but for me it was true.
Then lastly, you must surround yourself with supporters and other people who inspire you. Leave no room for naysayers and gain courage seeing others giving a shot at making their passion a reality .