Another year, another #GirlBoss. I'm excited to introduce you to this week's #GirlBoss, Katie Dean, founder of Katie Dean Jewelry. Katie started to make dainty, delicate jewelry and when she wore it out people kept stopping her to ask where she got it. Soon enough, she was selling pieces directly off her body. She could barely keep and wear a piece for a week before someone bought it off her (literally!). It was at that point, when she realized that she was happiest making jewelry and people were loving it!
Here is what Katie had to say ...
Name: Katie Dean
Current Title/Company: Owner / Designer of Katie Dean Jewelry
Education: Highschool graduate + the Los Angeles School of Hard Knocks ;-)
What was your first job out of college? I only went to college for one year and it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t feel I needed a degree to have a career in the art world. I moved to LA 3 months before my 19th birthday and my first job out West was being a secretary at a production company.
Tell us more about Katie Dean Jewelry. My line is made up of dainty, delicate pieces that are meant for everyday wear. I want the line to emanate a fun, feminine vibe that makes people feel happy when they wear it.
What inspired you to start your own company? Ever since I was little, I wanted to be an artist. Whether that was painting, drawing, sculpting, … I am happiest when creating beautiful things. AND I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, make my own rules, work when I want to work and not have to conform to the traditional 9-5 workday. I, of course worked those 9-5 jobs before starting my line and I felt trapped instead of inspired. I knew from a very young age that I was not meant to have a traditional career path.
What advice would you give others thinking about starting their own business? Oh man! I have a lot of advice. First of all: just start doing. I see people that have ideas and talk about them a lot but never start doing them. The first step is getting into action and if it doesn’t pan out that’s ok! It’s better to go for it and take the risk of failing than not do anything - at the very least you will learn a ton and it will help you in the future when you have another idea!
Secondly, be savvy with your money. Don’t go spending it all on something that you know nothing about. Put in your due diligence before you commit to a big expense or before you hire someone on to your team.
This leads me to my third piece of advice which is trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, than don’t rush into any long term commitments or agreements. And lastly, accept the fact that starting your business is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be mistakes and things will go wrong. It’s a part of life. Like I said before, the most important thing is that you learn from the things that go wrong and don’t make the same mistakes in the future. Being successful in business depends on a lot of things but perseverance is a big part of it.
What was your biggest fear in starting your own business? The question I would ask myself everyday: Am I going to be able to pay my bills? Will this work out in the long run? But you know, when I thought about the grand scheme of things, my biggest fear was not taking a chance. Then looking back in fifty years, having worked a job that didn’t make me happy and wishing that I could get those fifty years back. I may have worked around the clock for the first two years of my business but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I go to bed every night feeling fulfilled and lucky that I get to use my creativity to put things into the world that make women feel happy and inspired when they wear them. That’s worth it all.
What inspired the pieces you design? I get inspired by the life around me! Everyone is so unique and our perspectives of beauty are all different. I like to create pieces that are eye catching but not dominant of your entire look.
What designers or brands do you look to for inspiration? I love Madewell. The simplicity of their designs make me feel polished and put together without a lot of effort. I’m also obsessed with a line called Realisation Par. Their wrap dresses are so gorgeous. As well as everything Reformation. For shoes I looove Loeffler Randall.
What does a typical day look like for you? I like to wake up and work out almost immediately. Starting my day with a workout gives me energy for the rest of my day. I try not to look at my phone or answer emails until afterwards.
After that I hop on my email! I typically spend a lot of my day on email and on phone meetings. In-between I’m usually sorting through images, posting on our social, planning out new releases and if I’m lucky, sketching new pieces.
As the line has grown, I’ve had to put more time and energy into managing all the moving components of the company. I learned many times that I can’t do it all myself so you have to let go of some of the control.
If you could pick one or two Katie Dean Jewelry essentials that you couldn’t live without, what would they be? Oooo! Good quesiton. I would say the Little Dipper studs. I wear these everyday. They’re perfection to me. I also wear the hammered band rings in solid gold every day and the Bar with Gem necklace almost everyday. That was three, haha, so hard to just pick one!
What’s your most proud moment since launching Katie Dean Jewelry? This is a hard one!
What advice would you give to your younger self? Stop worrying so much. We’re not curing cancer here. Not to discount the importance of art and what it does to help humanity but at the end of the day, life is good and you need to keep things in perspective. Staying grounded and keeping your eye on the prize is the name of the game.
If you could have drinks with four women who would it be? Diane Von Ferstenberg, Elizabeth Gilbert, Martha Stewart and Oprah.
What’s next for Katie Dean Jewelry? Any collaborations? Stores we can find you in? We started something really fun this year where we release a new mini-collection every 4-6 weeks and we’ve had an amazing response from our followers! They love seeing new pieces come out on a regular basis and it’s been super fun for me to create new pieces on a regular basis. We announce the new releases on our social media (follow us on Instagram! @katiedeanjewelry) and through our email newsletter (you can sign up through our website!).
I’m always on the go with the line, heading to new cities and popping up! I love meeting anyone who follows the brand and meeting new people that are seeing the brand for the first time. Every week on Instagram I announce any weekly events that we’re doing so I would love for you to follow along and hopefully I can meet you in person soon!