A Conversation with Jules Kim of Bijules
The Six Scents Parfums team has been friends with New York based Jeweler Jules Kim for many years now. We have seen her grow Bijules into a worldwide brand that counts celebrity tastemakers such as Rihanna among it’s clients. Despite her successes Jules has always stayed true to her convictions and her own unique personal aesthetic. We sit down with Jules to speak about the jewelry business, her inspirations, scents and what’s to come.
Q: Tell us a bit about the first pieces you made and how you went about creating them.
A: I started Bijules in the basement of my first East Village apartment 8 years ago. I was throwing parties and DJing and when I went out I found the best audience for selling my work was my peers. I wore double of everything and pushed to sell while I was out! I understood that what I was making was important, but the way to communicate what I was doing was just as crucial.
Now, the quality of both the product and the story around it has become Bijules’ strongest attribute and has set it apart from its competitors. Each piece was born with its own unique personality. The jewelry speaks for itself and its wearers don’t have to say a word. It is an obvious decision what type of person my clients want to be… someone confident and someone who takes time to research what makes them happy.
Q: In many ways you are the face of your brand, was this a conscious decision you made when you started?
A: I definitely did not start Bijules with a 5 or 10 year plan. I began because I wanted to. I felt the overwhelming need to create tangible products but with intangible connections and I asserted myself as the storyteller. No one could do it better and no one has. I believe what I have to say is not unique to just myself but my thoughts and lifestyle choices are shared by millions and THAT is called a marketplace. If I exist in a marketplace then who better to cater to and that is what I have helped create… I am lucky to be an outgoing character and I use this “all risk no shame” mentality everyday…
I made my decision to risk everything I had and everything I could have to build Bijules; therefore, now – I am passionate about sharing my successes and also my failures. That makes me a human being and all of my clients, whether they are Rihanna or not, are just as humble. It’s the shared act of buying Bijules, which makes all of them similar.
Q: Where do you look for inspiration on new designs?
A: I look everywhere. I am a world traveler and when I am out and about either in Paris or Berlin, etc. I am eagerly looking for inspiration! I see a Con Ed guy hanging from a streetlight, I am thinking, “holy shit, look at his body harness. That’s hot!” I keep a pretty tight peripheral vision though; I am not an artist who needs to input what other people are doing. It’s a diversion and I’d prefer to stick to my own original thought. I see things in a different way and it is this unique vision I communicate with Bijules.
Q: You always seem to have so much on your plate with your business, travel, and a little partying on the side. How do you manage it all?
A:Who says I am?! Ha! I try to maintain a constant schedule of business mixed with a little carousing. I cannot take myself or what I do too seriously or else I’d neglect who I really am! I do all of this because I am obligated to find new business and new inspiration but I am also obligated to find new people and friends!
Q:You have been creating jewelry for over seven years now. What are some tough lessons you’ve learned and some big successes you’ve achieved over that time frame?
A:There are so many! I have learned that consistency is the key and that one must build diligence in everything they do. Each of us measures success differently so it is always a tricky response to what I feel is successful. Ask anyone who you might measure as “successful” and I guarantee they don’t agree. I have a long way to go and have no intention of slowing my pace. I am proud to be an innovator and herald the known and unknown clients who wear Bijules, but I still have dreams and aspirations as designer, artist, and businesswoman. To answer candidly, I have made some huge mistakes in production, billing, pr, blah blah.. but so has everyone and thank god I fucked up because I will NEVER repeat those mistakes!
Q:Speak a bit about the creation of the fashion film Amasia.
A:This film was an amazing opportunity for me to work with the best. It has been screened in respected venues all over the world and seen by eyes that may or may not have known what Bijules is. Diane Pernet asked me to take part in an exhibition in northern Italy for the gold tradefair, Vicenza Oro. I was honored and elated she considered me a top jewelry designer. Using one of my favorite conceptual designs as the basis for the film I approached Hunter Lee Soik and Guido Callarelli. Together we developed a concept not based on skinny models or expensive clothing, but on the base raw human feeling of dramatic change. The theme for Diane’s curatorial project at Vicenza Oro was to “contaminate jewelry”, because frankly, the gold industry aesthetic is dying and so is the fight to keep its value. The industry needs change, and in my eyes – a very dramatic change! Using Iceland as our subject, the talented crew flew, drove, and hiked all over the country in search of the strongest imagery they could find. The final product made me cry like a baby. It is this emotion I wanted to invite the viewer to witness and the gold industry to understand.
Q:How would you describe your personal relationship with fragrance?
A:Fragrance is a personal thing to me. I have been wearing fragrance off and on for a while and each scent I keep around like photographs of my childhood. They are secret looks into my past and a hopeful search for something of the future…
Q: If you had the chance to create a scent what do you imagine it smelling like?
A: Don’t laugh but I think I’d like to call it Coke Whore… hahah… It would smell like cigs and sweat… spicy and raw… Whenever I’d wear one of my perfumes after partying I always felt sick and that’s why I stopped wearing them. I figured if I smell like I am always partying then I’ll wear it forever?!
Q: Do you have any advice for new jewelry designers who are just getting started?
A: Follow your own path. If you want to be a real jewelry designer I recommend taking a crash course in metal smithing because if you don’t understand your medium it will own you instead of you controlling it. I see a piece of jewelry in my mind and know how to execute because I got my hands dirty. Do not fear what you do not know and always push your experiences from a place of discomfort to one filled with confidence.
Q: What’s next for Jules and the Bijules brand?
A:Whoah! A lot. Firstly, to make money. Not money like – “cool I can get a cappuccino without breaking the bank…” but more along the lines of “cool, I can hire a full time press agent in house without breaking the bank”. In order for me to reach that point there are spreadsheets to be made and markets to conquer! I hope to build Bijules into a brand that people identify with and one, which provides insight not only into the world of jewelry but into themselves.
Portrait by Francois Dischinger
Questions by Rocky Li
Please visit http://www.bijulesnyc.com/ to see more.