An Interview with Designer Valerie Madison
At the start of our blogging journey as a small business, we want to take you behind the scenes to get to know jewelry designer Valerie Madison and the inner workings of our eco friendly fine jewelry studio.
First off, who's the cute pup?
That's Omar, the studio dog. Our local clients usually get showered in his affection when they visit the studio. He's a chihuahua mix who doesn't act like one and we've had several people ask if we will clone him for them.
What is your role at LilyEmme? What got you interested in jewelry design?
I'm the owner, designer, and maker. Jewelry is an interest that I wasn’t aware that I had until I was nearly finished with college. I took up beading and wire-wrapping out of curiosity and interest and it turned into a passionate hobby. I frequented the bead store I shopped at so frequently that they invited me to apply for a retail position between college classes. While I worked there, I learned many jewelry techniques and realized that I wanted to pursue metalsmithing so that I could fabricate anything I wanted out of metal. I learned from books and classes, all the while selling my pieces online to fund my growing need for tools and materials. From there the demand is what kept me going and fueled my little business’s growth from hobby to career.
Today I get to design and make jewelry all from my little jewelry studio in Seattle. I really love what I do because I get to bring quality materials and craftsmanship to my designs and pass that on to the wearer. Plus, it's incredibly fulfilling to conjure up an idea and be able to see it through to completion.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was 7 years old I decided that I wanted to be a marine biologist and by high school I was pretty sure I wanted to work in wildlife conservation. I really loved learning about animals, plants, and the environment and while I didn't pursue a career in that field, its still a big part of who I am.
What inspired you to start an “eco-friendly” business?
I was in my last year of college, pursuing my degree in Environmental Science and Resource Management, when I discovered that a career in jewelry could be possible. In school I learned about the devastating effects of over-mining precious metals and diamonds. I couldn’t believe that such beautiful and sentimental jewelry objects could be tainted with such negativity but I learned that I could help reduce those effects by working with recycled metals and eco-friendly gem options like moissanite.
Where does the name “LilyEmme” come from?
The name LilyEmme is a blending of the name Lilyana Mireya (Lily M.), the name of my youngest sister who was born at the same time that I started making jewelry. We are 20 years apart in age but we have a really special relationship.
Who wears your jewelry?
Both men & women who are looking for something simple, practical, and classic. Their tastes are already defined and they know they want a modern piece of jewelry that they'll enjoy for years to come even when other jewelry trends have faded.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would you want to live?
Italy! I don’t have the most stamps in my passport but I do have one from Italy and I had a wonderful time there. The food, the vistas and the language are lovely and I could see myself being happy there.
What do you like to do when you aren’t at work?
When I’m not working I like to practice my Spanish, window shop for mid-century modern furniture, and doodle in my sketchbook.
What's a normal Friday night for you?
I'm a homebody for sure. A typical Friday night is spent eating pizza while watching hilarious old reality TV shows with my husband on our comfy couch. All this takes place with two cats and a dog vying for the most comfortable spot in the blanket pile.
What's next for LilyEmme?
Right now, I'd say to continuing our business's online growth and product development. I wear lots of hats right now because LilyEmme is relatively new but it's an exciting place to be in. We're in our early years but not going away so stick around and maybe you'll get to see some big changes for us!