Fine Jewelry Designer, Laurie Windham
Laurie Windham, of L. Windham Jewelry, is a self-made jewelry maven with pieces of stunning elegance with a mix of metals, gems and stones.
i stumbled upon Laurie of L. Windham Jewelry via Instagram and it was an early photo that captured my attention; a sketch of a design with the completed piece resting on top. it was fascinating to see something on paper come to life with so much grandeur and edge; the design was alluring. i immediately hit "follow" and from that point on, i've been watching her business develop. it's incredible to see the sheer variety of the pieces, from glittery studs to thick bejeweled cuffs and everything in between. her Instagram captures how she styles her pieces both individually or alone.
Laurie's love of jewelry began at a young age and while interviewing her i loved learning of her beginnings up to today. Continue reading to find out how she got started, her go-to items & best advice.
1. Tell me a little about being a high-end costume jewelry designer and how you began?
I started jewelry making and designing when I was in elementary school, so it’s something I have enjoyed for a very long time. I really got back into it while living in New York City. Being exposed to all the current fashion designs every day is what sparked me to want to start my own company. While I was in pharmacy school, I still had a desire to start my own company. I even reached out to a few jewelry manufacturers about having some of my jewelry designs produced. One jewelry manufacturer told me to call them back once I finished school, and if I were still interested, they would take me on as a client. After finishing pharmacy school, I knew this was something I wanted to try. I wanted to start my own company and design beautiful pieces for women to wear. To see a woman’s expression when she first puts on a beautiful jewelry piece is indescribable. The feeling of excitement and joy that lights up their face is what makes me love this industry. And knowing it’s your design that made them feel that way is an incredible feeling.
2. Your designs are all stunning. I am especially head over heels with the Delancey drops. Which is your favorite?
All of the pieces are unique in their own way. I tried to make it edgy and unique looking, so it doesn't look like your average statement jewelry piece. I love shapes especially triangles. The sharp edges and points are very powerful and eye-catching. I wanted my jewelry to have an Egyptian look, since I love the colors and intricate designs in ancient Egyptian jewelry. I chose a antique plating color look, because it still gives it that antique look and not an overbearing bright shiny gold that can look cheap sometimes.
3. Did your studies in college apply to what you're doing now? If not, when and where did you acquire the necessary skills?
I actually graduated with a bachelors in Science and later went on to acquire a Doctorate in Pharmacology, so no I didn't study fashion design and textiles. I taught myself about the jewelry trade. I have been working on this collection for a year, and finally launched my pieces in February. You learn a lot in this business when you’re working with professional manufacturers. I learned about metal types, different stone sizes and colors, plating colors, manufacturing, etc. There is a lot of work that goes into each individual design. People actually don’t realize the amount of time that is put into designing a piece and all the details that goes into making that piece come to life. I sometimes sketch around 50 designs, but I will only choose 1 or 2 pieces to have made. It’s a trial and error process for sure.
4. What are the 3 things you cannot leave the house without?
a. A good statement jewelry piece
5. What is your go-to lipstick shade?
I love Urban Decay’s lipstick called “Rapture” because of its subtle berry tones.
6. How do you keep inspiration fresh in your studio?
I’m constantly sketching. I find beauty in shapes and take inspiration from magazines, online pinterest posts, architectural shapes, nature, etc. Recently I was travelling on a plane, and saw a shape underneath a passenger’s seat, so I whipped out my sketch book and started to sketch an earring design. A lot of my designs come from when I’m really relaxed. I like to close my eyes and design in my head and once I think of a piece that can come alive, I’ll sit down and sketch it. I also dream designs. I sometimes wake up and immediately grab my sketchbook to design the piece I dreamed before I forget it. It’s very random what sparks my imagination. I feel like my brain is racing 500 mph, and I’m trying to keep up.
7. How would you describe your personal style?
I go from one extreme to the other. Honestly, I prefer to wear white and black every single day. I likewearing these colors because I like dressing up a simple look with a big oversized statement piece, a great purse, and an awesome pair of shoes. Accessories are key to my styling. On the other hand, I really like bright colorful patterns, but I will usually pair these outfits with a simple piece such as stackable bracelets, oversized stud earrings, and a simple necklace.
8. What was the biggest obstacle you faced while pursuing your dreams?
It was really tough finding a good manufacturer. I went through 4 different manufacturers before I found a really great, reliable company that makes the jewelry pieces based on quality and not quantity. I found most manufacturers are only interested in making cheap jewelry with high quantities and low turn around time. But in the past few months, I was able to find an amazing manufacturer in New York that focuses on only using high quality jewelry components and is able to get pieces made and ready within 2-4 weeks turnaround.
9. What is the best advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs? What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Don’t give up. Don’t let doubt be a reason to procrastinate. You have to push yourself, and make lists of things that must be done in order to get closer to your goal. Sometimes I wonder, “What if I don’t make it? Am I making a huge mistake pursuing this dream?” I constantly remind myself, I only have one life. Do I really want to look back and regret that I didn’t try? No, I want to push myself to succeed far beyond my goals. If you don’t try, you won’t succeed. Sure, a girl can dream, but can she make that dream come true? I think so.
The best advice I received was from my friends. My roommates from New York told me to stop talking about what I want to do, and get out there and do it. Now, that I’m at this point in my jewelry designing career, they keep pushing me and cheerleading me to keep going further.