Jodi Rae Brownstein has been designing, making, and selling jewellery since she was just eight years old. Now a trained designer, artist, and metalsmith, Jodi Rae officially launched her eponymous jewellery line back in 2010 after spending time in Italy studying.
She lovingly crafts all her pieces by hand in her studio in Austin, Texas, and personally sources her materials and gemstones to ensure they are of the finest standard. Her jewellery has a bold, strong and unique style, which incorporates circular elements and expert metal finishing. We chat with Jodi Rae about her passion for creating jewellery that brings people joy, confidence and compliments.
Why drove you to start Jodi Rae Designs?
“I started Jodi Rae Designs because I wanted to share my passion. It just felt right that I follow this path, so I jumped in with everything I had. I wanted to make well crafted, one-of-a-kind jewellery with my hands; jewellery that brought people joy, confidence and compliments. So, I decided to follow my dreams and put all my energy, creativity and love into what I truly believe in and am passionate about.”
When did you first fall in love with jewellery?
“I vividly remember the moment I fell in love with creating jewellery. I was 7 or 8 years old at an overnight Girl Scout camp. I was in arts and crafts and I beaded a necklace out of white and gold seed beads. I remember the satisfaction I felt in creating the pattern, completing the necklace and then giving it to my Mom and seeing her wear and enjoy it. I was hooked from that very moment and as an 8-year-old child I began to design, handcraft and sell jewellery to local shops in my town. So, making jewellery is something I’ve always done.”
"I remember the satisfaction I felt in creating the pattern, completing the necklace and then giving it to my Mom and seeing her wear and enjoy it."
When did you decide you wanted to be a jewellery designer?
“After studying art and photography in college and working in the photo industry for a few years, I decided I wanted to take my jewellery full time. But first, I needed to hone my skills as a metalsmith, so I enrolled in an intensive jewellery and metalsmithing program in Florence, Italy. I spent 8 months learning ancient metalsmithing techniques from an international faculty of jewellers and metalsmiths. Experiencing the culture, pride, and attention to detail in everything they do there - from the food and the coffee, to even just a beautifully wrapped package from the pharmacy - really inspired me and has been the foundation of my work. Upon completion of that program, I moved to Chicago and started my business as it is now, Jodi Rae Designs.”
What are your core brand values?
“I believe in great craftsmanship and thus I strive to create well-crafted jewellery that will last a lifetime. I believe in following your dreams and doing what you love. That’s how I try to live my life every day, and why I handcraft jewellery. I believe in the golden rule of treating people the way I would like to be treated, which I apply to my wonderful customers and people I encounter every day. I believe in celebrating uniqueness, attention to detail, and natural beauty. I believe that Mother Nature is precious and do my best to source environmentally friendly materials, including recycled precious metals. I also recycle everything I can and always choose the most environmentally friendly supplies that I can.”
"I believe in celebrating uniqueness, attention to detail, and natural beauty."
How has your childhood influenced you as a designer?
“I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, IL USA. I had, and still have a wonderful and supportive family. My beautiful Grandmother made beaded jewellery for fun and taught me a few things along the way. However, my best memories are of my Mom and Grandmother taking me to gem shows from a very young age to search for treasures. I began collecting the most unique beads I could find to create my jewellery. We went every year and always had a wonderfully inspiring day, and to this day I still go back each year to hunt for the most unique stones.”
How do you want someone to feel when wearing jewellery from Jodi Rae Designs?
“I want them to feel confident, protected and like they are expressing their unique self. Plus, it would be great if they got lots of compliments!”
Are there any customers that you are particularly proud of?
“I am most proud of the long-standing collectors of my work. I have such a wonderful following of customers who I have gotten to know over the past 17 years. Many have been collecting piece after piece, all of these years, and wear my jewellery every day. My jewellery still brings them joy and they keep adding to their collections.”
"When I open myself up to the moment and the beauty in the details, that's when inspiration finds me."
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
“I create my best work in my studio, surrounded by all of my tools and equipment (usually after a delicious cup of coffee.) But inspiration usually comes from outside. I could be hunting for stones, travelling somewhere new or at a concert listening to amazing music. When I open myself up to the moment and the beauty in the details, that's when inspiration finds me. I never quite know when it will hit.”
What’s been the highest point of your career so far?
“I’m climbing every day!”
What drives you to continue creating jewellery?
“No matter what I achieve, I keep pushing every day. To learn more, better my skills, make more people happy with jewels. There’s always so much more to learn, do and experience and it’s a constant evolution. I guess the most satisfying part for me is really being able to create jewellery that is special and meaningful to people and keep honing my skills. I guess it will be a never-ending journey!”