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Top of Mind

Top of Mind: Natalie Joy on Working Past the Tough Stuff

Top of Mind BY liz 12/08/2017

Welcome to Top of Mind, featuring a designer who’s been a part of the Of a Kind fam since wayyyyyy back (like, before Snapchat). This round, Natalie Joy, who turned her background making amazingly intricate sculptures into a super-successful collection of clean-edged earrings and mobiles, is here spill on the mom advice she still turns to and the silver linings of limitations.


HOW PRACTICALITY HELPED KEEP HER CREATIVE:

“When I started creating jewelry 11 years ago, before I officially had my line, I was mostly interested in the sculptural aspects of it. Many of my pieces weren’t even wearable. My focus was on telling a story and creating a mood. But as I became more and more interested in fashion, I realized that the story could be told in creating an overall look and that jewelry could be a vital part in telling that story. And suddenly making wearable pieces fascinated me. It’s endlessly inspiring to see the different ways people style and interpret my pieces into an outfit.”

 

WHAT’S CURRENTLY KEEPING HER UP AT NIGHT (IN A GOOD WAY):

“Right now, I’m in the finishing stages of converting my bare-bones 1914 garage into a fully equipped metals studio with great ventilation and lots of natural light. It has been a goal of mine for the past five years, and I finally get to create my ultimate dream studio! I’m so grateful for my employees that have been extremely patient and understanding while we have gone through growing pains and have worked in a 14-foot-by-15-foot room together in the meantime. I couldn’t have done it without my team of amazing women!”



THE SOUNDTRACK THAT KEEPS THE STUDIO HUMMING:

“I have an unhealthy obsession with true crime. Luckily, my employees do too, so we listen to a lot of true-crime podcasts in the studio. Our favorites are My Favorite Murder, In Sight, Casefile, and Cults. But at the end of the day when I’m trying to clear my head, I like to watch old episodes of The Office and Friends.”

 

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THE MATERNAL ADVICE THAT’S ALSO SOUND BOSSLADY WISDOM:

“My mom has always said that the path you need to take will present itself. If it gets too bumpy or you hit a roadblock, then you must have missed a turn or accidentally gone backwards. If I keep repeating the same mistakes or running into the same problems, it’s a clear sign that I’m on the wrong path. And I swear—the right one always presents itself.”


THE THING SHE CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT:

“I’m really heartbroken about the reduction of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments and everything else going on. It’s hard to not let it consume your thoughts.”



PICKING UP AND DUSTING OFF WHEN STUFF GETS KINDA HEAVY:

“I have a few go-tos for times when I’m discouraged or frustrated. Looking through old sketchbooks and revisiting past concepts always puts things in perspective for me. Sometimes ideas that refused to develop in the past make much more sense when I revisit them. It helps to think about an entirely different creative project. I often sketch out compositions for paintings I’d like to make. But I’ve never actually painted any of them! The idea of painting soothes me and helps me to greater define my overall aesthetic as a designer. And if all else fails…snuggling my cat, going outdoors, taking a hot shower, and drinking a glass of wine seem to do the trick.”

 


WHERE SHE HEADS IN PORTLAND, OREGON, WHEN SHE REALLY NEEDS A BREAK:

Lay Low Tavern, the dive bar down the street from my house, is my favorite because it’s super chill and feels like an extension of being home. Perfect for days that I finish working really late and don’t want to change out of my grungy studio clothes. I get a cheeseburger and tots. If I want a great meal, then I’d say Navarre. It’s an Italian, French, and Spanish restaurant with a shared-plates menu based on what’s in season locally. I get the chef’s three-course meal, and it is always top-notch.”

 

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THE TOOL SHE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT:

“A fresh black Papermate Flair pen. This is the best pen in the world.  It doesn’t bleed, and the thickness of the lines is perfect.”



THE BUZZ THAT COMES WITH TOTALLY NAILING IT:

“My favorite part of being a designer is the constant chase. The satisfaction of finishing a collection or making a great piece is fleeting. It feels so good when I know I’ve made something I truly love, but, almost immediately, I want to do it again and do it better. My least favorite parts of being a designer are tangled up in that sentiment as well. You don’t check your work at the door. I can’t take a sick day or ever mentally check out. It’s a lifestyle that can be both exhausting and exhilarating. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

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