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juliet-m-designer
Image courtesy Emily Denyer
Interview

Emily Denyer

03.14.17

Juliet M Jewelry is a new line of fine jewelry inspired by the Pacific Northwest. Deep emeralds, sapphires, opals, pearls, and diamonds are the prominent stones in Emily Denyer’s strong, debut collection. The colors are reminiscent of Emily’s surroundings in the Puget Sound where she lives with her family. While the jewelry is certainly stunning; the brand features a unique component to its story. When Emily was younger she was in an abusive relationship. She channeled this experience into her former career as a social work working exclusively with domestic violence survivors. When she had her kids, the work became even more personal and Emily needed a change. She named the collection after her daughter, Juliet, and donates 10% of every sale to domestic violence shelters.

Interview

Do your remember your first piece of jewelry?

Yes! As a young child my parents would buy gemstones when they traveled out of the country. My mother brought me back an oval emerald from the Caribbean, which is my birthstone. While I was only ten at the time, she told me I could design it into anything I wanted for my sixteenth birthday and saved it as my ‘coming of age’ present. When I turned sixteen, I designed a ring with 2 round diamonds accenting the emerald. I remember talking to the jeweler and drawing the ring, it was the first time I saw a design in my head come to life in a piece of fine jewelry. I felt empowered, alive, and very special.

How did your brand come about?

In my early 20’s, I went through a violent relationship that changed the course of my life. After it ended, I went to school for social work and began to work at a local domestic violence shelter. It was deeply fulfilling and inspiring for me to work one on one with residents, advocating for them, and helping them make empowered choices. I thought this would be my lifelong career because it is so personal for me.

After starting a family, I found work at the shelter to be too emotionally heavy. Being a mother softened me. I reconnected with my creative side, and knew I needed to move on and embrace that. Deep down I had this dream of creating a line of jewelry, and I confessed it to my husband one night. He was so encouraging and told me we would make it happen. We decided to name the company Juliet M, after our daughter, and that we would incorporate my dedication toward domestic violence survivors by giving back 10% to shelters nationwide.

The designs and aesthetic of the line came naturally once I made the decision to go for it. Many of the initial designs had been in my head for years and I was so thrilled to begin the process of bringing this line to life.

Your fight to raise awareness and support for survivors of domestic violence is inspiring. Was it difficult at first to incorporate such a personal part of your life into your business?

In the beginning I hesitated to talk openly about my very personal experience with domestic violence. After some soul searching I decided to be authentic and share. People connect to each other in a real way when we don’t hold back. I am a very open person, and although it’s not easy to talk about, I am not ashamed of it either. Statistics say 1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence in their lives. Unfortunately, it’s a very common experience for women in America, and we need to be talking about it and supporting each other every chance we get.

Your love of nature and the Pacific Northwest is beautifully blended into the palette of blues and greens. What’s your favorite part about living there?

What I love about the Pacific Northwest is that we are surrounded by such natural beauty. One of our favorite things to do as a family is to take a walk in the woods. Once we get past the rainy season (It’s not as bad as people think) Washington summers are spectacular; everything is lush and alive. It’s a very special place where you can go to the coast or the forest, or even a mountain top within a few hours. I grew up here and my parents always took my sisters and I camping, hiking, and exploring outside. I want my children to grow up with a true appreciation for the beauty of nature, and find when they are grown that it’s a place they can always come back to heal and reconnect.

What influenced the vintage-inspired design aesthetic?

Even though I am at peace in the forest, I am a glamour girl at heart. I have always loved watching old movies and playing dress up with my sisters. I adore Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, and Marilyn, of course. You’ll notice many of my pieces are named after iconic women who inspire me. Some are old Hollywood actresses, and I also name my pieces after some of my very special family and friends.

I think the 1920s were an exceptional time for fashion, art, and jewelry. That time period is most closely aligned to my personal aesthetic. I love the use of symmetry and clean lines with botanical motifs from Art Deco jewelry and art.

Why do you think jewelry carries such deep personal meaning for people?

Jewelry is not only a means of self-expression, but also a precious, tangible object that represents our memories. When someone buys a piece of fine jewelry, it usually marks a moment in their life that adds to their story.

One of my favorite pieces from my personal collection are my grandmother’s pair of cluster coral, opal and jade earrings she bought while traveling to Jerusalem with my grandfather. I like to imagine her picking them out. She was such a practical person so I love the idea that she splurged to commemorate a trip.

I keep in mind the tradition of cherished keepsake pieces being passed down to future generations as I design. The people I design for are creating their own story and history. It is an honor to be a part of their legacy.

Which pieces from your collection would you suggest for someone looking to start their fine jewelry collection?

I think my Diamond Deco Studs would be a lovely start to any collection as they are an interesting and stylish twist on a traditional round diamond stud. They are perfect for everyday wear but also for an elegant evening out. I envision women wearing them in second piercings with hoops (like my perfect hoops!).

I also suggest pearls, as they are timeless and classic. You can’t go wrong with the Jacqueline Pearl Necklace or Marilyn Ring. My personal favorite is my Opulence Necklace, I am partial to emeralds!

Where do you source your gems?

My gems come from all around the world and it is very important to me that the stones I buy are ethically sourced and conflict-free.

What can we expect from Juliet M over the next year?

Big things! I just returned from a press trip in New York (to showcase my Spring 2017 Capsule Collection), and came back empty handed! All our pieces were pulled for shoots from some of my favorite publications, which is so validating and encouraging! I have started designing our F/W 2017 release, which will be our third collection. This entire endeavor is very exciting and I am just so grateful.

How do you plan to balance motherhood and a demanding design business?

One day at a time. With the business growing so fast, all I can do is keep adjusting as my demands increase. As a working mother, there is a lot of juggling involved! Luckily most things I can do remotely while I am with my children. There have been times where I am ordering stones as I am changing diapers. Honestly, if I didn’t feel so passionately about this work, it would be much more difficult. When you’re aligned with the right line of work, the energy finds you. This is me, and I want my children to see me realizing my dream and working hard to be my best self.

Are your kids interested in what you’re doing? Do they ever try to “help”?

Yes! My 3 yr old son William is a huge fan. We talk about the stones, and how they come from the earth. His favorite stone is a ruby. He loves to sketch with me and I share my stencils with him. He tells me he wants to come to “Yew Nork” with me and help me sell diamonds. Juliet is too young to understand, but my hope is one day she will see that all I have built is a giant love letter to her.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring female entrepreneurs?

My advice is: make a plan, and throw your hat in the ring. You only live once. That’s what I tell myself! Secondly, ask for help. My friends, my family, my devoted husband, and several other female entrepreneurs have helped me realize this dream. Gather all the wisdom & support you can, and pay if forward.

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