JY Lee has had an extraordinary journey, as a corporate lawyer and renowned jewellery designer.
I met JY Lee through a mutual friend about four years ago. JY had just launched her eponymous bespoke jewellery label, JYJewels, at the same time I had launched my first collection as an architect-turned-shoe-designer. Given we are both Korean-Australian pursuing our passion outside of our respective professional industry, would you say we were destined to meet? We thought so!
Although JY still works as a senior lawyer, she has enjoyed phenomenal success in growing her label. Over the past few years, her beautiful jewellery is regularly featured in prestigious fashion magazines.
Every time we catch up I ask JY how she does it, and she always replies with a big grin, “Perseverance wins every time.”
So, read on to discover what inspires her and her jewellery design, and learn what she looks for in a pair of shoes as she goes about her busy days as a corporate lawyer.
Let's step into her shoes!
Love, Ash x
Ash: How did you get started in the creative industry?
JY: Being creative has always been how my mind works - it's a giant mess of ideas and crazy dreams, floating away with rainbows, excited at new visions.
Since I was very little, I loved being tactile and inventing things - I would sit around for hours drawing these elaborate contraptions that would make life easier. I also loved music. At the age of 11, on a playdate with my best friend, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my friend would promptly say, "barrister" (she was definitely the more precocious of us), but I said "Disney princess singer"... which I think really sums it up.
I wasn't sure where to channel my creativity until I was very lucky to fall into jewellery - a close millinery friend of mine, Lisa, introduced me to the wonderful Lydia-Jane Saunders (then a jewellery designer and now a fabulous Australian stylist), who needed an assistant. I worked with her for several years and then when she moved to London, I decided to start my own brand JYJewels.
Ash: What inspires you and your jewellery?
JY: I create pieces that I want to wear - which are often different from the norm - jewels which become personal classics but without ever losing a sense of fun. I like to create based on the constant challenge of maximising the wearability, such as unique statement earrings that are as light as possible.
I'm not particularly precious, so I like to make pieces that are reasonably hard-wearing. I'm also fairly lazy when dressing, so I'm perpetually inspired to create jewels that make you feel dressed and polished.
One of my key inspirations is the amazing women I have been lucky enough to meet through my label - customers, designers, creatives, many have become my friends. They push me in the best possible way to become better, and make jewels and crowns which are true to my vision.
Ash: Who is the woman that inspires you the most?
JY: An entirely easy answer - my mother. The most hard-working, selfless, loving woman I have known. If I can be even 1 millionth as good a person as she is, I will have done well.
Ash: If you could give a piece of advice to your 20-year-old self, what would it be?
Everything takes time and some things are not in your control. Work on what you can control and go with the flow with the rest.
Ash: What's your life maxim that you go back to time after time?
Persistence wins every time.
Ash: How important is it for you to have the right pair of shoes in your line of work as a jewellery designer and lawyer?
Very important! As both a jewellery designer and lawyer, I really find that wearing fantastic shoes make such a big difference to my outfit and also to how I feel. Great shoes make your favourite outfits win in all places.
Ash: Which are your all-time favourite EOD shoes and why?
I recently got a pair of Scarlett Mary Jane pumps in olive green velvet, and I LOVE them. The first thing I noticed when I slipped them on was the padding. My favourite thing in the world is when heels are padded, it makes such an incredible difference to the level of comfort. The olive green velvet is so special and when you add the most flattering ankle strap I have ever worn, it's an epic combo. Also, the versatility is great - I can wear them in both of my worlds as a jeweller, and a lawyer.
Next on my list are the metallic gold and pink Ecstasy loafers...
Select pieces from JYJewels are now available online and in our Castlecrag store, including crystal necklaces and matching crystal stud earrings. Browse here and see what JY's dreams are made of.