Sometimes being discovered and getting the recognition your work deserves has little to do with talent.
"My career path was definitely unplanned."
How else to explain how a girl from Fyzabad with a degree in psychology ends up being a selected jeweller for British Vogue’s showcase. Josanne’s talent is undeniable, ever since her decision to pursue her fascination and obvious gift with jewellery design she has made some bold choices with little money, luck or connections all of which have led the right people in the business to take note. And if you can get better than the pages of Vogue, Josanne Mark is determined to find it.
Today we are thrilled to talk with the Fyzabad based jeweller about her love for good design, her scary jump into that world, her time in NYC and getting her brand into the pages of an international magazine all the while maintaining her small town, country girl roots. We also chat with her about her use of social media to build her brand.
"As an independent designer, I’m involved with every aspect of my product..."
Can we just start by saying how much we love your work? Our founder has one of your long delicate pieces that end in a burst of coloured Swarovski crystals, and we are in awe each time she wears it.
I am humbled and appreciative. Thank you!
How does a girl from Fyzabad end up studying jewellery design in NYC?
My career path was definitely unplanned. Some say it was destiny, some say it was my tenacity and diligence, others say it was due to my almost childlike sense of open-mindedness to possibilities. I graduated from the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Manhattan in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Jewelry Design but I didn’t’ start there. My first degree is in Psychology and Human Resource Management and I got that right here at home at the University of The West Indies. But after graduating and looking for a job in my field for months, my zeal began to waver and I began creating beaded jewellery, it was just for me and it was just a way to pass the time. It was just a hobby then.
It didn't stay that way for long though…
You’re right. It became my passion, I took a small loan to fund a trip to New York City with the intention of vending on the streets of Soho. My jewellery was a hit and that’s actually when I began taking my hobby seriously and really developing my craft. I returned home and began building my name in the local luxury market but I still didn’t have any training in the field. One Sunday, I came across an article in the newspaper about a young female Trinidadian handbag designer who was doing big things in NYC. In the article, the designer talked about getting her foundation at a college called FIT. I didn’t even know a university like that existed but less than 20 minutes into my research, I knew that whatever the sacrifice I had to make, I would do it. It is where I wanted to be.
You didn't just make it to FIT, you made it into the covers of British Vogue. How did that happen?
I like to think of it in the way Oprah defines it: “where preparation meets opportunity”. A few years ago, during one of the frequent conversations I often have with myself I knew I had to have a website, something that was not just good, but something that was spectacular, one that compared to the big ticket designers. I decided to build it myself.
I am certainly not a tech-savvy person. It was one of the most challenging things I have ever done in my lifetime but the self-talk that fueled my drive. Fast forward to two years later, I received an email from someone at British Vogue who found my website and thought that I was a good fit for their designer’s feature.
Did you scream when you saw your work in Vogue and who did you share the news with first?
Oh no, I didn’t scream! I wined (hehe). My Mom was the first to know. Then we both wined!
You obviously work very hard to slay the jewellery design game, but what else do you think has made you successful?
I’m unwilling to take no for an answer and I believe I’m capable of doing anything I put my mind to. We are all capable; tenacity and discipline are all it takes. Staying grounded and maintaining your sense of honesty, fairness and integrity is also important to success.
Your collections are stunning in the way you incorporate gems with more natural material? Is that always the intent as a jeweller?
Yes. I am heavily inspired by the natural world; I suppose I’m a true “country girl”. Through the eyes of a designer, there is so much to notice in nature by way colour, lines and texture and there is also such richness and beauty in cut gems. My design philosophy is a truly panoptic one. I harmonize organic and geometric elements with bold textures, which results in a diverse design style. It’s unpredictable yet identifiable when you see a piece you know it’s mine.
Design is one thing and marketing is another. How do you get the word out? What’s your favourite social media channel for business right now?
Instagram is fuelled by visual content, a lot of which has to be planed for, are you a planner? Or do you put up content as you feel it?
I struggle with planning. I typically put up content as I feel it. This feels most organic to me. I pay attention to my captions and I post what I “feel” at the time. For me, it’s difficult to write captions in advance.
"I have a playful mind and I often see my work as play..."
What’s the one thing you wish you could do better on social media?
I really wish I could be better at planning my content in advance. I am sure it will save me time. It’s one of the conversations I intend to keep having and I’ll keep trying
Your jewellery visuals are insanely beautiful on Instagram. Walk us through your process of coming up with creative concepts, shooting content, and posting.
I really just go with the flow. As an independent designer, I’m involved with every aspect of my product, from the concept to the creation/production so I’m able to give my audience a glimpse into what happens behind the scene, at my workbench. This is all very organic. I’d stop in the middle of what I’m doing (dirty hands and all) take a picture and I’d either post it right away or save it or post at the end of the day. Then, there are the more commercial type product photos that I also shoot myself. I sometimes pair these with another image to add the right emotion to the post. This entails more in-depth thought. I use online tools such as Canva to compose these visuals.
Keeping your creative saw sharpened is a big challenge we find when we interview designers and creatives, no matter what their discipline?
I have a playful mind and I often see my work as play. There’s no shortage of ideas when you allow your mind to wander freely. However, I do stay on top of my game with regard to new advances in my industry. The jewellery industry is constantly evolving and new technology means greater possibilities from a creative standpoint.
Being a small town girl has obviously never hampered your creativity; do you ever yearn to live in a bigger country?
Never! I find that it’s harder to be creative when I’m in a big city atmosphere.
As a creative how do you keep self-doubt at bay?
Only with a lot of positive self-talk.
What’s next for Josanne and your brand?
I’m finally fully involved in the bridal and wedding market. It began with a few individual orders for customised pieces but the demand has increased. I’ve added a new section to my website (Engagement/Bridal and Commissions gallery). With this service, I really get to connect with customers and participate in making dreams come true; a deeply fulfilling process from start to finish.
We can’t wait. Talking about fancy whose personal jewellery style do you admire and crush on?
Internationally it will have to be Monique Pean and locally, Rachael Ross.
You can contact Josanne Mark here.
Thanks for reading! 🙂
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