Stephanie Ellis’s Journey to Her Eponymous Brand Stephanie Ellis Jewelry
I connected with Stephanie through The Rising Tide Society and instantly knew I wanted to interview her! I am obsessed with offbeat designs like Stephanie’s. Every time I stumble across unconventional designers, I feel inclined to hear more about their background. It takes a lot of guts to pursue your own jewelry line, and the best way to learn is to ask those who have already done it. Enjoy this interview with Stephanie, and I hope you learn something new and get inspired. 🙂
Stephanie Ellis’s Journey in Her Words
“I grew up in a small southern Iowa town. A black sheep in all respects, I was the girl in love with art. As a small child I could be found outside twisting blades of grass together into rings for my family and friends. This desire to create has always been with me and has never wavered. I had big ideas and dreams about what I was and what I was to become, so I set off for college in the summer of 1998. I worked hard and graduated with a BFA in Art/Design from Iowa State University in 2002. I excelled my way through advanced woodworking, ceramics, metalsmithing, and fibers. I wanted to do it all! Though it wasn’t a tough decision to choose an emphasis, as metalsmithing and jewelry design was a love and a passion!
I worked in a small family owned jewelry store while I was going to the university to gain experience and to further my skills. This experience would prove to be crucial when it came to finding a job in the industry after college. I applied for a job right after graduation with an artist and Jeweler in Vail, Colorado. After a 13 hour drive and a one day long bench test, I was hired on the spot. I spent the next 5 wonderful years in the beautiful town of Vail working for an amazing and inspiring artist named Jim Cotter of J. Cotter Gallery.
I left Vail to pursue a Graduate Degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale where I achieved an MFA in Metalsmithing in 2009. My thesis was based on Victorian mourning jewelry, the duality of human hair and use of its use as ornamentation.
After an amazing an exhilarating experience as a grad student I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina to live and to create a life for myself. I started out by working for a local jewelry store to save money in the hopes of starting my own business someday. After a few years, I was determined to move beyond just working towards other people’s visions to realizing my own.
I just launched my line of alternative bridal and engagement rings this spring. Though it is a work in progress, I am very happy with my achievements and how my work has progressed over the years. It feels amazing to finally put myself out there and to create a line of work that is made with love and is entirely of my own design.”
Q: Your style sets you apart from other jewelry designers. How you you describe your unique style, and where did the inspiration come from?
A: “My work is blend of old and new, where Victorian meets Modern. As an artist I have a love for many different styles, sometimes these styles just don’t seem to collide. Why? As an eclectic soul I’ve combined the keen sense of ornamentation from the Victorian period and juxtapose that with its almost opposite clean line modern style. Where opposite attract a sort of magic is born. My work has a unique look. It seems to appeal to many people with a love of ornamentation and who refuse to be categorized.”
Q: Who do you envision buying Stephanie Ellis Jewelry as you’re creating it?
A: “My ideal customer is a woman that is empowered; she is a strong and independent soul that is looking for something that is a bit different. She’s an individual that wouldn’t be happy wearing the same thing that everyone else is wearing. She is someone who is willing to take a turn from the mainstream and follow her heart.”
Q: Your materials are part of what make you so unique. What are must-have materials for Stephanie Ellis Jewelry designs?
A: “I love working with natural rose-cut diamonds to create my alternative bridal designs. I say “alternative” because I am using raw, colored and opaque diamonds. I feel they themselves are a one-of-a-kind in color and character. Like a great painting, within each stone lies a composition that is full of color, life, and balance. In the mainstream market these stones are often cast off as unwanted and of little value. If a diamond isn’t clear and white, it is undesired and not accepted as a viable option for engagement wear… though they did have a place in ancient jewelry. I also only use recycled gold in my designs so I’m not supporting new mining practices. I am trying to create an alternative to the seemingly overdone styles that keep circling in the industry and that have flooded the market for so long.”
Q: Where can we find Stephanie Ellis Jewelry?
A: “At the moment my jewelry is only sold online at StephanieEllisJewelry.com. In the near future, I will be adding a few jewelry stores around the country.”
Q: What does the future hold for you?
A: “In 5 years I would like to see myself having my own storefront here in Asheville, where I offer my designs along with other aspiring jewelers from the area and beyond. I really want to support other creative individuals that are looking to branch out and finally take a chance on themselves like I have. It’s a hard road, and sometimes we just need a helping hand and a little push.”
It’s no lie that Stephanie’s work is incredible and that she deserves all of the recognition! Her brand is still starting out but will continue to grow. And it could grow faster with your help! Please share this post if her designs inspired you.
Looking to connect with other like-minded jewelry designers? Join my Facebook group Jewelry Designers Outlet.