Happy Feature Friday!
We are big fans of jewelry, so we are truly loving today’s feature with Liona of Liona Lee Designs! The products she creates are SO unique and we love how she has a distinct design style and cohesive collection, but also makes each earring and necklace stand out with different fabrics and materials. We would never think to create jewelry out of fabric — so when we came across her work we thought it was just the coolest thing! Liona has a ton of great information to share about her jewelry journey and we can’t wait for you to read more about her and see the amazing products she creates for Liona Lee Designs.
: Tell us a little about yourself.
: My name is Liona (pronounced Ly-oh-nah!). I’m 32 years old, married to Ryan, with 2 kids – Mia (4) and Charlie (11 months)! I live in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. Before I started my own jewellery brand I was a Pharmacy Assistant and Dispensary Technician for 10 years. I loved working in pharmacy but always craved a more creative path.
: How did you start your fabulous jewelry line, Liona Lee Designs?
: I started making jewellery after my daughter was born, as I decided not to go back to work. I am naturally creative and needed an outlet. I wanted something that allowed me to be creative, but also allowed me to stay at home to raise my children. I have always loved all arts and crafts but never one thing in particular. However, after making my first batch of fabric button earrings, I knew I had found my passion, my niche!
: You incorporate fabric into your jewelry making. What do you like about using fabric and what are some of its challenges compared to other jewelry techniques?
: Fabric is so diverse – the colours, the patterns, the textures. I love experimenting with different fabrics to make unique pieces – not just cottons, but silks, poplins, lycra, faux leathers and patent leathers.
Thickness of fabrics can have its challenges. You could find the perfect fabric but if it’s too thick, it won’t press into the aluminum button shell. Also, the pressing of the buttons is done by hand (well, my thumb actually!) and it can leave a sore indentation on my thumb!
: Describe the design process for your jewelry. How do you go about picking fabrics or trends?
: My designs are quite often influenced by trends. For example, the marble trend was and still is HUGE, so I have used marble fabrics in my pieces a few times now – grey marble, then black marble and most recently, coral marble. But mostly it’s just me choosing fabric that has colours or patterns that I am attracted to and that would make eye-catching pieces. I do sometimes have to remind myself that I’m making for other people and to not always pick fabrics that only I like! Sometimes I have to go out on a limb and pick something that wouldn’t normally catch my eye – for example, a colour that is trending but not one that I necessarily like myself. You may notice I use a lot of pinks! I don’t think I’ve ever used primary colours (red, blue or yellow) as they are not my thing and I just can’t bring myself to use them!
: When you see your customers wearing Liona Lee Designs, sending you how they styled their piece or tagging you how does it feel? Many makers express that each sale feels as exciting as their first, since each piece was a special labor of love. Does it still feel this way to you?
: It still feels surreal! I have to pinch myself that people actually love my jewellery enough to buy my designs and wear them! As any maker can confirm, the whole reason we make is for other people, our customers. It’s such a thrill to see someone wearing one of your handcrafted designs.
: Are you a self-taught jewelry designer? How did you learn to create your pieces?
: Yes I am completely self taught. I have dabbled in jewellery making since I was a child and I’ve tried my hand at beaded jewellery and polymer clay jewellery. I had a basic knowledge of how to put jewellery together so that, paired with a love of jewellery and my creativity meant it all came together easily for me. I bought my first lot of aluminum self cover buttons on eBay, just to try it out. I loved the idea of choosing my own fabrics, as I’d seen fabric button earrings, but never in fabrics that really caught my eye. So I decided to make them myself! Earrings lead to me expanding to my now signature range of Druzy Tassel Necklaces. My signature style of necklace includes a 38mm fabric button pendant, with a resin druzy in a complimentary colour and a matching cotton tassel. I use the druzy and the tassel to bring out the colours in the fabric. I do a lot of experimenting with my jewellery to come up with unique designs and always try to think outside the box.
: You are located in Australia! What about your environment inspires your creations?
: I live in Tasmania, which is a small island state at the bottom of Australia. We are known for our clean air and pristine wilderness. We also have 4 definite seasons in Tasmania, unlike some parts of Australia. So I love to include some fabrics and pieces that represent the seasons, such as colours and textures of winter or summer. For example – velvet in deep, rich colours for winter and neons and florals for summer.
: If you could have the studio of your dreams what would it include?
: A huge amount of storage! Floor to ceiling shelving so I can display my fabrics. Light and airy room. With a view. Lots of desk space to spread my “creative mess” out! A Nutella frozen yogurt machine to control my Nutella cravings! A huge mood board to display the things that inspire me (photos, fabric swatches, quotes, etc.) A canvas photo of my husband, kids and I. I love to play music when I create so couldn’t be without that either. Anything from Twentyone Pilots, Yellowcard and Foo Fighters to Lady Gaga, Little Mix and Rihanna.
: This summer for you guys is actually winter for me in Australia! We’ve just finished our summer and heading into winter, so I do a lot more pop-up shop style events in the cooler months where it doesn’t involve me standing out in the cold!
I love interacting with my customers in person! I like to see what pieces they are loving, what outfits they are rocking with their Liona Lee Designs jewellery and how they style my jewellery! It’s one of the best parts of the job!