This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating all week long by highlighting female founders who innovate and inspire. We caught up with Gorjana Reidel (pronounced gor-ya-na) co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of her eponymous Laguna Beach-based jewelry line, gorjana, to learn more about how she got her start, what inspires her work, and her professional advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs. Read on for the inside scoop!
What inspired you to start your business?
I like to think that jewelry called me. It's not something I ever thought about doing. I graduated college with a business degree and realized pretty quickly that although I loved business, I needed a creative outlet as well. I was 22 years old and around all of this beautiful jewelry but could not afford any of it. My path was a bit windy, but jewelry came into my life and I fell in love with it. I decided I wanted to create beautiful pieces that have the look and feel of high end but were something that my friends and I could afford. It really started a creative outlet that I needed and quickly grew, and I realized I could no longer be the one making all the pieces :)
What surprised you most when you first started out?
When we first started working with boutiques, I was so surprised by how many people were making jewelry and how competitive the space was. I would go into appointments and everyone would tell me the same thing, but it also felt so great that they picked my jewelry and believed in me from the start. It’s good to have blind faith sometimes and just go for things.
What has been your biggest challenge?
There are so many challenges when running a business. Sometimes I feel like there is a new challenge every week. If I really think about it, I think my biggest challenge has been managing people. I love collaborating with people and working together and I had a really hard time transitioning into a manager and acting like one. I am a pretty easy-going person and tend to speak from my heart, so it was really challenging to shift how I operate and become more of a leader. Although I am not sure I ever really crossed over, I think I am sort of in the middle on this now and it seems to be working, part leader part friend :)
What are you most proud of?
Opening our own stores! I love that we get to share our brand directly with our customers as well as get their direct feedback of what they love. It has been so rewarding to be able to interact directly with them and connect with them on a deeper level.
gorjana jewelry perfectly captures that laid-back California cool style. What inspires your designs?
My biggest inspiration is our laid-back California lifestyle. I love creating pieces that seamlessly fit within my day-to-day life. They have to be beautiful, comfortable and versatile all at the same time.
What are some tips for layering jewelry?
There are no rules! The best part about our jewelry is that there are so many ways to make your layers your own. I like to mix it up with a fun chain like our Venice Necklace, a little color with the Parker Pearl Necklace, or one of my fine pieces. I also love mixing different chains and gems that are similar lengths for less of a perfect look.
What’s your favorite gorjana piece?
That is a really hard question, and it changes all the time! Right now, here are the pieces I always have on: The Parker Necklace, The Venice Necklace, Floating Diamond Necklace, Lou Hoops, and Diamond Huggies.
Who are a few women who inspire you?
I was born in Serbia and I lived around a ton of family and was fortunate to spend a lot of time with both of my grandmothers. I was really influenced by my mom and both of my grandmothers and really attribute my love for creating to them. They would sew my clothes, knit sweaters, crochet tablecloths and cook the best meals. They were constantly creating. They also were super strong women that I always admired.
What’s one piece of professional advice you’d give to women?
Take your time and make sure you really love what you are doing and find your “why”. No matter what it is you are doing, it has its challenges. You need to really love what you do and be fulfilled by it otherwise you won’t make it through the challenging times.
What things have you been doing to help you stay focused and motivated during this challenging year?
Just taking it one day at a time. This year more than any has been a rollercoaster of emotions and energy waves. I realized early on that I would be best just focusing on taking it day by day and giving myself the space to feel whatever I was feeling. I have set no expectations and have been really open to what that means. There are some days that I am super productive and others where I really am not but being ok and not judging myself along the way is key.
L*SPACE is about welcoming everyday moments, no matter how big or small. What brings joy to your everyday (ex: a favorite recipe, daily workout, etc)?
Spending time with my husband and kids and our crazy dog Fin. Whether it is going for a walk or having a fun conversation at dinner. All of us together just being present is the best.
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