Today, we’re excited to bring you an interview with Colby June Fulton, a jewelry designer from just outside Aspen. Colby June first began making jewelry in her spare time and after her daughter was born, she worked hard to turn her passion into a fully-fledged successful business.
Colby June works mainly with precious metals and creates amazing jewelry collections inspired by nature. In this interview, Colby June shares with us how she first got started making jewelry, about her design process and how she runs her business. Read her answers to our questions below!
1. How did you get started in making jewelry?
I first took a jewelry class in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico between high school and college. I was completely enamored with the process. When I returned to the state, I attained the basic tools and set up shop in my father’s garage.
2. Did you take any qualifications to help you become a jewelry designer?
My first silversmithing class in San Miguel de Allende, with Billy King, was an amazing start to learning the craft. I later took a few classes at Northwest College of Arts and Crafts in Portland, Oregon while I was attending college at Lewis and Clark College. In the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to participate in some great workshops with Kate Wolf and Blain Lewis.
3. When and how did you turn jewelry-making into a fully-fledged business?
I first got a degree in Hispanic Studies at Lewis and Clark and later a Masters in Counselling Psychology. I worked as a teacher and then a counsellor which left little to no time for making jewelry. I wanted to have space in my life that allowed for a creative outlet and realized that if I wanted to make jewelry, it would need to be for profit.
I worked for a few years doing both jewelry and counselling. When I had my daughter Perry, something had to go and I quit my part-time counsellor job. By that time, I had begun to develop a distinctive style. I was able to sell my work at the Aspen Saturday Market, which really kept my business afloat.
At the beginning of 2011, I decided to get more serious about wholesale outside of Colorado. It was extremely lucky that Anthropologie picked up a ring set. Even though Anthropologie only carried one ring set for a short time, it set my business on an upward trajectory which allowed me to continue to grow.
4. What’s it like running a handmade business and working for yourself?
Running my jewelry business is a dream job! It can be hard to find balance between work and family. I have a two year old and a five year old, so life is busy! The main issue is that I love to be at work and I love to be with my family. There is just never enough time for either one.
5. What materials do you love to use and why?
I love to work with silver, gold and bronze. Metal is definitely my most loved material. Occasionally I incorporate gems and beads. I always strive to add other materials to my designs, but most of the time I end up stripping back to basic metal.
6. What inspires your creativity in making new designs?
I am inspired by the tiny details and textures in nature. I love to focus on a part of something rather than the whole thing. I typically see an object or group of items that inspire me to recreate the texture or feeling of the object. I later relate that inclination to what is happening internally or externally in my life.
7. What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever made and why?
My favorite piece is my Coral Cuff. It is made from a piece of coral I found washed up on the beach on Maui. I had the piece of coral for a very long time and it reminded me of a very specific time in my life. I finally made a mold of the coral and based an entire collection around it. The Coral Cuff is the most complete representation of the piece of coral. I love the weight and how the texture feels.
8. What challenges do you face doing what you do?
Creating a new collection is definitely the most interesting and challenging part of my work. I love the moment of arriving at a final product and feeling good about what I have created. Of course there are a lot of struggles and moments of self-doubt in the process. Hopefully I arrive at a space where the collection feels complete and ready for launching.
9. What are your visions for your business in the future?
I love where my business is at for the moment but would love to see us grow our wholesale orders. Also, I am only able to create one new collection a year and hope to make 2-4 in the future.
10. What advice would you give to up and coming jewelry artists to help them realize their dream of running a successful handmade business?
I would tell an aspiring designer to put their work out into the world. Etsy is a great platform to test designs and ideas. You can get a feel for what is selling without a lot of investment. I would also recommend staying true to your unique inspirations and not design around trends. You can still incorporate trends into designs but begin with something that is purely your own.
We’d like to thank Colby June for taking the time to be interviewed for our blog! We hope you enjoyed getting to know more about Colby June in this post and that you’re as inspired by her words as we are.
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