Dea Dia

Studio + Shop Visit

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It’s hard not to want to take home everything at Dea Dia, Jessica Lawson’s jewelry studio and brick and mortar in Portland. Every shelf, tabletop, and vignette is stocked with some of our favorite makers’ products as well as Jessica’s exquisite jewelry. We were lucky enough to chat with Jessica about her business and learn more about her history. Meet Jessica!

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How did your business start? How does it reflect your journey as an artist?

I feel like I got really lucky falling into jewelry design, it’s like it found me. It had never occurred to me that someone could be a jewelry designer. One of the odd jobs I picked up living in New York was selling someone else’s jewelry at a weekly artist market in Brooklyn. It turned out I  liked being around jewelry and was pretty good at selling it. On a whim, I bought some basic jewelry supplies and crystals and just started teaching myself how to make jewelry. I wasn’t really designing it for anyone other than myself to wear initially. I started to get compliments on my pieces when I went out. Soon, I opened an Etsy shop and started doing artist’s markets around NYC. A jewelry designer friend encouraged me to try Pooltradeshow (a wholesale show) in Las Vegas. In January of 2013 I took the leap and spent the last of my money on exhibiting at a cash and carry booth at Pooltradeshow and I have been blessed enough to be working for myself full time ever since then.

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What do you love most about jewelry designing? On the opposite side of the spectrum, what are some of the challenges associated with this craft?

I love that you can always build upon your craft and learn new techniques and ways of doing things. There are so many aspects of jewelry design from assembly to silversmithing to wax carving and casting to stone setting, the list goes on. You can spend your whole life learning and getting better.

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What inspired your decision to open a brick and mortar? What lessons have you learned while being an artist as well as retail shop owner?

Since I lived in New York and started doing jewelry, I dreamed of having a store that I could curate. I have designed so much jewelry over the last several years and wanted a way to display it altogether in an environment that I created. Being  a strong proponent of the designer-maker movement, I also wanted a place where I could showcase the work of other talented friends and creatives whom I find inspiration from.

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What has been your proudest moment since creating your business?

Definitely signing the lease on my storefront and walking into the raw space that I was going to transform into my little shop.

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Where do you want your business to be in 5 years?

I want to further advance my craft and work on more fine jewelry pieces. I’ve begun moving in this direction by creating one-of-a-kind engagement rings and other special pieces on commission.

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What is the most important thing you do daily for your business?

Instagram. I try to post 5 to 7 days a week, because it’s the best promotional tool that’s available right now. It’s also a great way to connect with other designers and make new friends.

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What are some inspirations for your work?

Myths, mountains, symbols, the sky, the natural world and Western landscapes.

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If you could learn any other craft, what would it be?

I have signed up to take classes in ceramics and welding this fall, and I’m excited to see what I come up with in those crafts.

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When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?

Hanging out with my family, traveling, hiking, beaching and absorbing whatever culture I can find.

What is your favorite part of your studio?

My jeweler’s bench. It’s where a lot of the design process occurs, in addition to the fabrication and finishing. The bench is everything.

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What is the latest project you’re working on?

My next collection. I don’t want to say too much because it’s in early stages, but it has pearls.

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What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?

Don’t be afraid to take risks. You have to stick your neck out there and try new things, otherwise you don’t know what you could be missing out on. By taking more chances, more opportunities may arise that you had never even considered.

What are 3 of your favorite things in life you’d recommend to anyone on the street?

Twin Peaks, both old and new; Neil Young; and catching sunsets at Tucson Mountain Park which overlooks a Saguaro forest.

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