Founded by mother-daughter duo Julie Bishop and Amy Wilson, retailer Juler’s Row was created when Julie and Amy couldn’t find jewelry-inspired art for their office. What started as a line of watercolor artwork has expanded to an entire brand of jewelry-themed accessories, home décor, clothing and wallpaper. The pair joined the Jewelry Journey Podcast to discuss how the brand shifted from a simple blog to a successful brand, how they operate as a team, and how they hope to educate customers with their products. Read the episode transcript below.
Sharon: Welcome to the Jewelry Journey Podcast. Today, my guests are the mother and daughter team of Julie Bishop and Amy Wilson, who together have created an innovative company, Juler’s Row. Juler’s Row creates clothing and other objects designed specifically for jewelry lovers and jewelers. Today, they’ll tell us about starting their company and about their own jewelry journeys. Amy and Julie, welcome to the program.
Julie: Thank you, Sharon.
Amy: Thank you for having us.
Sharon: We’re delighted to have you. Amy, why don’t you start off telling us about your own jewelry journey?
Amy: I was brought up in a family with my mother as a designer, my sisters were art teachers and art directors, and my dad was an engineer. I was brought up around design and creativity, so I always had an appreciation for any type of design, especially jewelry. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have a watch on, earrings on, a necklace on. I’ve always worn jewelry. I’m an interior designer now and I also do art. When we were doing presentations for interior designs, when we were showing clients fabrics and furnishings and things, I always dressed rather neutral, in black and without a lot of pattern on, because we were showing them other patterns and fabrics. But I never, ever forgot to put my jewelry on, because that was always a little bit of color when we were showing things. In design, too, fashion usually leads the design colors, so you always pay attention to what’s going on in fashion and jewelry. Just an example, when we saw a resurgence in yellow gold, it then started to come back into design, where we saw more brass and hardware and accessories. It is something you always want to pay attention to, mixing different designs. It’s always been interwoven into my life. Hopefully, I think I passed that on to Julie, too.
Sharon: That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about how you have to be more neutral yourself, in a sense, when you’re presenting to somebody. Julie, did you always like jewelry? Tell us about your jewelry journey.
Julie: From a very young age, I loved small things, like miniature dolls, toys, all sorts of things. My favorite thing was watches early on. Every school year I would get a new watch and had it on 24/7. It was one of my favorite things. I loved reading Vogue and following fashion shows. I thought I wanted to head in that direction originally, and then I started paying more attention to jewelry. In college I took metalsmithing and enameling classes as an elective. I also had an internship at Nordstrom in the jewelry department, and I worked for Whitney Abrams Goldsmith in Chicago. A lot of those things pushed me forward. I knew that after college I wanted to go into jewelry for sure, and it was a natural progression. I think watches really introduced me to the world of jewelry.
Sharon: That’s interesting. Do you still like watches?
Julie: I do. I’ve bought and sold watches in the last couple of years. I have a smaller collection than I once did, but I really love the ones I do have.
Sharon: Watches have become a big thing. I remember how often I would look at Vogue Magazine and drool and think about being in fashion as a career. I wonder how many others did the same thing. Whitney Abrams has also been a guest on the podcast. She does lovely work.
Julie: Yes, I knew you guys were acquainted. She was really great in giving me an intro into the business. I interned with her one summer in college and then went to work for her full time after I graduated. She took me to the Tucson Gem Show for the first time and was great about opening my eyes to the jewelry industry.
Sharon: I don’t know her that well, but she seems like she would be a great mentor and teacher. She would be very willing to teach and show. To everybody listening, I’ll remind you that we will have pictures of the fabulous products of Juler’s Row posted with the podcast, so you can see the wonderful things they do. How did you come to start Juler’s Row? What gave you the idea?
Julie: Juler’s Row originally started out as a jewelry blog. I actually started it when I was working in Chicago for Whitney as a way to learn about the industry. I did Q&As with different jewelry designers. I started to dive into my love of antique and estate jewelry at that point. Then I moved to Indianapolis and ended up working for a jewelry store called G. Thrapp in sales and buying full time, so I didn’t have quite as much time to work on the blog. After I transitioned from that job, my mom and I had an office together, and I was looking for some jewelry artwork to put up and couldn’t find anything. In one of our breaks from working, we thought, “Why don’t we try to come up with a necklace design?” and my mom said she would paint it. It started from there.
Sharon: That’s interesting. Yes, you do have a lot of artwork on your website. It would be a great way for jewelry lovers to decorate, with the beautiful gem outlines you show. Tell us about your product lines.
Julie: Originally, we did start with artwork, and we were offering canvas or paper prints. After we started to build that out, we also ventured into throw pillows. The concept of a diamond shape on your couch, I think, is so fun. The other thing we started to get into pretty quickly was wallpaper. One of the first rooms we wallpapered was a powder room in a house I just purchased with my husband. That was a gemstone and diamond version, where we used all the shapes my mom had painted and created a paper. We also have one with diamonds, and they each have the names underneath them. A lot of our products, what we’ve created, comes from working in sales. We wanted art that was beautiful but also educational, because someone walks into a jewelry store and they don’t know what an emerald cut is compared to a radiant cut. We are a little different, because we always put the names of the shapes so it can help someone differentiate what they’re looking at.
We have added jewelry to the collection, which is sterling silver and yellow gold vermeil. It’s a piece of a jewelry you can wear and it will last; it’s not something where the plate is going to come off. The vermeil is three microns. We also added mugs, phone cases, leggings, teas, journals. We just kept going, and we built out the collection of artwork we have. All of the mugs, phone cases, everything uses our original artwork, so it’s special. We also keep the originals, and we have sold some of those from time to time to clients who wanted an original piece of art.
Sharon: Were clients asking you for diamond pillows or do you suggest them?
Amy: We do a lot of women’s dressing rooms or master closets or other special little rooms, and it was always one thing we were missing and couldn’t find. I don’t ever remember being able to find anything like that, and that’s what started us doing it. As Julie said with the gems and education, we had those installed in several jewelry stores—just a single picture showing the stone cuts, and it kept morphing into other things. That’s what’s been so much fun, because when we’ve done one thing, it’s like, “Well, maybe this answers this question or this object or whatever.” It morphs into different things. It started because we had these designs, and then we kept changing them to fit different things, if that makes sense. It’s a full-time job for Julie. I’m kind of torn between doing the interior design work and doing the drawings, so it’s more part-time for me. She is the lead on the creative side, deciding the next thing we’re going to introduce to the line.
Sharon: I know you’re both, or at least Juler’s Row is, active online. I don’t know when you started that, but once you did the original design, how did people hear about you? You said you wanted to build it out. Were people clamoring for the stuff, and that’s what made you decide to go online or to create this company?
Julie: We had a pretty nice following on Instagram from the blog. I originally started the Instagram back in the day when Instagram was quite different. There weren’t as many people on it and you could really connect with other accounts easily. That’s what helped us start out, and it’s definitely still a huge part of the business today. We have a lot of clients that come from Instagram who find us that way. It did start quite slow and we are pretty small. When it started I was still working full time at a jewelry store, but over a couple of years, we realized what we were good at, what people wanted to see. A big part of it is also the educational aspect of it. I think antique and estate jewelry is important, because a lot of people see a design today and they don’t realize the inspiration for that came from something from the Victorian or Art Deco period. For instance, we just finished a series of heart brooches that we’ll do as wallpaper and throughout our categories. We looked at all different periods of jewelry as inspiration for hearts, and then came up with our own designs from there. It’s interesting, because it’s not just jewelry you’re going to see today. It’s not all antique jewelry. It’s a little bit of everything mixed together; just like we’re educating people on the different shapes of diamonds, there are also different types of jewelry, obviously. It’s certainly been a progression over the years. My mom and I talk all the time and come up with things, and we are not afraid to not move forward with something we have come up with, a design she’s rendered. Maybe we don’t use it. Maybe we do.
Sharon: Who is your target audience? I presume it’s jewelry lovers, but is it jewelers, or is it people who think the designs are colorful and beautiful?
Julie: A little bit of everyone. We have a lot of jewelers, people in the jewelry industry, jewelry lovers who purchase from us. We also wholesale a good part of our collection to stores, so we have a bit of a broad audience. We also get brides looking for that emerald cut accessory when they’ve just gotten engaged and they’ve got an emerald cut ring. It’s definitely a wide audience, but I would say mostly jewelry lovers and jewelers are the main.
Sharon: You do a wholesale business, too?
Julie: We do, yes.
Sharon: I’m sorry I interrupted you. Go ahead.
Amy: I was going say to Julie—didn’t we do some sort of bed and breakfast in England? They bought the prints. You’ve done work all around the world, too. People request things from Australia, from India, so it’s not just the United States target. We found there is an audience outside of the United States that appreciates it.
Sharon: Yeah, jewelry lovers are everywhere. Who’s in charge of the design and execution? Amy, is that you?
Amy: We start by talking about what we want to do, and then Julie usually—let’s say we’re going to do hearts—and she’ll start finding different pieces. I’ll find some, too, and then we’ll start narrowing it down to maybe 12 that we want to concentrate on. We’ll then take it down to maybe three, and I’ll start sketching those three. When I sketch it, I want to make sure I understand it, that I’m drawing it correctly so it looks like it’s something that could be made. I’ll sketch it, and then Julie and I will meet again and go back and forth and determine if we want to change this or that. Then I’ll start painting it and I’ll show her as I progress through it, again with colors. It’s a give and take the whole way through until we get that final piece done, and then we move on to the next one.
Sharon: How is it working together as a mother and daughter team?
Julie: Yeah, I think so. We’ve always gotten along, which is funny. I don’t think we take it as criticism if we’re working on something and she says she doesn’t like it, and I don’t feel bad if I tell her why I don’t like something. We really do work well together.
Sharon: That’s great.
Sharon: I’m not sure how many mothers and daughters can say that, so that’s great. What else would you like us to know about the business? What have I not covered?
Julie: One thing for me is that I also have a line of jewelry called Katherine & Josephine, which is mostly 14 carat. I work on that as well. About the time I started to create that collection was when we transitioned Juler’s Row to what it is now. I would never suggest having two things you work on because it does divide you. There’s always push and pull, but I do look at them as my children and I love them both. I am jewelry all day, every day. I get done working online, and then I’m looking online at auctions. I love jewelry so much. As a kid, I would carry something around all the time, and to me, jewelry is what you can have as an adult. It’s always with you. It’s like a little memento. I love being a part of this industry and there’s so much to learn. I do think it’s great how social media has connected so many people who love jewelry. You can be chatting with someone in Germany that has posted a really fabulous antique piece or something. It’s a great industry to be in.
Sharon: It is. Do you think the fact that you studied jewelry, that you understand it as a metalsmith and a goldsmith, makes a difference in what you do here?
Julie: I do. I would say I was very much an amateur at the bench, but taking metalsmithing and enameling really helped me in the beginning of my career, when I was working at a jewelry store dealing with clients on repairs and helping with custom projects. You understand how something’s going to come together. Is it possible? Is it a good idea? I think that’s essential, and that’s what my mom was speaking to. When we come up with a design we want it to be realistic. Could someone take this image and create a CAD or hand fabricate what we just drew? We’ll discuss back and forth a lot about it, and she likes for me to explain how this stone would actually be set and what that means. I think having that background is very helpful, because not having it would make it difficult to understand the process of getting something finished. I take charge for most of the jewelry designs within the collection, and when you speak to manufacturers, if you don’t have that background, I think it would be really tough.
Sharon: Yeah, I’m sure it would be. Amy, when you’re doing interior design, do you find that people are interested when you introduce the wallpaper or pillows as a possibility?
Amy: Wallpaper fell out of favor years back and it is starting to have a resurgence now. It is interesting to see the people that are interested in the wallpaper, and it’s just not wallpapering a wall; it’s wallpapering the back of a cabinet; it’s an accent. It’s being used in all different ways. That’s exciting, and Julie and I have been working together a lot trying to get the patterning right, because wallpaper is different than doing a pillow or a book or something. We have really liked that challenge of coming up with different wallpaper designs. I do have to say—being a mother—that Julie really does know her jewelry, because I’ve been in jewelry stores with her, and when she starts asking people questions, it’s like, “Oh, my God.” She really does understand jewelry, the history of it. She’s got a great memory. She can remember, “Oh, I saw that piece. I saw it at an auction. I always loved this piece.” She can remember how expensive it was. It’s really fun to have the opportunity to work with someone that has such a great appreciation for it, because, again, I’m coming in from a different side of it. I come in from the design and art side of it, so I take a lot of leadership from Julie which is a great way to go.
Sharon: That’s interesting, that jewelry stores are flabbergasted when you start asking in-depth questions. I don’t know how many times the presumption or the perception is, “Well, this is a younger person,” or “I’m going to tell them what a diamond looks like,” and you’re probably educating them. Where do you want to take the business from here, both of you?
Julie: I know we would like to continue to grow our wholesale and our retail side of it. We have definitely increased the number of stores we have over the past year. We also want to reach more stores with the jewelry we design as well, and just continue to grow the different collections and products within the collection.
Sharon: For the wholesale stuff, do they find you online, or do you go to tradeshows? What do you do?
Julie: I’ve never done a trade show. I’ve only ever walked trade shows as a buyer for stores I’ve worked with. I’ve never shown at a trade show, and it does actually quite intimidate me. It’s something we were thinking of at the beginning of 2020, but mostly we just have people reach out through our website or Instagram, that kind of thing.
Amy: Julie’s really active on social media. She’s doing a great job on the social media part.
Sharon: On my gosh, yes. It’s very consistent and attention-getting. I know it takes a lot of time and thought to make an impact on social media, so I give you credit. To everybody listening, that’s it for today’s Jewelry Journey. We will post pictures of Juler’s Row products on the website along with the podcast, and you can also check them online on Instagram. That’s where I usually am. You can find us wherever you download your podcasts, and please rate us. We’ll be back next time with another jewelry industry professional or professionals sharing their experience and expertise. Thank you so much for listening.
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