It’s no secret Aerie loves contemporary jewelry maker and girl boss, Julie Nolan. Her pieces are handmade from the heart. Read on to learn more about Julie and what makes her #AerieREAL.
Can you tell us a little about your brand and what inspired you to start making jewelry?
JN: I started making jewelry when I was a kid, probably about 8 years old, because it’s fun! I liked making beaded jewelry and friendship bracelets. I’d make necklaces and have my mom take them to her work to sell to her coworkers. I guess I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit!
I started my brand, Julie Nolan Jewelry, around 2009 shortly after completing jewelry school in Manhattan. It’s probably not the right way to do things, but I didn’t start out with a business plan or anything like that. I just sort of hit the ground running, making pieces that I thought looked cool. If I were to try to stand on the outside and describe my work, I’d say that I make clean, subtle, pieces that you can wear everyday. You could wear my jewelry to the beach or to a fancy dinner. I get a lot of customers that say they never take my pieces off. To me that’s the greatest testament of love for my creations.
How does astrology inspire your designs?
JN: This is probably not the answer that you’re looking for, but I’m not really that into astrology. My knowledge of personality traits as they relate to star signs has grown considerably as a result of my Zodiac Constellation designs but I wasn’t some kind of yodeling astrologer going into it.
When I was a kid growing up in San Jose, CA I used to love to go to the Rosicrucian Museum. It’s a really beautiful spot near the Rose Garden area. The museum is filled with a strange and mysterious mix of Egyptian relics and alchemical texts and art from the middle ages. I was always fascinated by this place and it’s beguiling aesthetic.
Fast forward to the mid 2000’s in Brooklyn. My boyfriend (now husband) Pete brought home a book he bought from a street vendor in Williamsburg called The Lore and Lure of Outer Space. It was kind of an overview of ancient astronomy going back to the dawn of recorded history. Again, it had a lot of really cool illustrations from the Alchemical texts of Hermes Trismegistus and the ancient origins of astrology. In the book there was a series of plates taken from a turn-of-the-century Swiss Calendar. I looked at the book a lot for a few years before it dawned on me that the simple zodiac constellation designs would render really well as jewelry. I started selling them at the Holiday Market at Colombus Circle back in 2009 and they continue to be one of my most popular designs.
So to answer your question I’m more interested in the aesthetics of ancient astronomy than I am in Astrology, although I’m getting more and more sucked in as the years go by.
What is your astrological sign? What does that mean to you?
JN: I’m a Scorpio, and this means you either love me or are afraid of me. I will admit that I do relish being a Scorpio. Who wouldn’t want to be a fierce, powerful and creative force of nature? I certainly wouldn’t let astrology be a guiding force in my life but in this instance I’m proud to fit the textbook description of a Scorpio and I have been known to peruse AstologyZone.com from time to time (for fun).
What is your favorite piece of jewelry?
JN: It’s hard to have just one favorite piece, but if push came to shove I’d say my wedding band is my favorite piece of jewelry. It was the first ring I made all by myself from start to finish back when I was just starting out at Studio Jewelers in Manhattan.
My husband and I each found twigs at McCaren Park in Brooklyn and I cast them into Gold rings using the lost wax technique. I think it’s a really nice analogy for our relationship. We found something natural and beautiful in this great big dirty city and forged it into something permanent and valuable.
What advice do you have for other women entrepreneurs?
JN: The best advice that I can give other female entrepreneurs is to take classes. Not only do you have the opportunity to improve your skill set, but you also have the opportunity to meet other women who have the same interests as you. It’s really a win/win situation.
Also, I always tell my 8 year old daughter Violet to be nice to everybody. I think it’s important to treat other people nicely and with respect.
What makes you #AerieREAL?
JN: Well gee I don’t know.. I’m not perfect? And like a lot of women (and people in general) I’ve certainly felt shame about not having a body that meets up with what advertisers and common public opinion holds up to be “beautiful” or even normal for that matter. So hats off to you guys for using girls in your ads that are a little chubby, have subtle imperfections, or are just different looking than what’s been considered the “ideal” woman for the past 20 years or whatever. Not to mention that this “ideal” standard is so boring! Thanks for bringing some variety and interestingness into your advertising. Hopefully my daughter’s generation won’t have to think about this junk at all and can just be humans. I’m a woman with a singular aesthetic who likes making things. Thank you for considering me to be #AerieREAL.