For my final interview of 2013, I am delighted to reveal the story behind a creative new accessories label, Woodfolk.
I discovered Woodfolk at the Finders Keepers Market held recently in Sydney, but it was not long before this that Woodfolk was officially launched at Life Instyle Melbourne. Despite its infancy, word of this stylish label is certainly spreading fast.
Julia Denes is the founder and jewellery designer behind Woodfolk. Julia created the label as a break from the fast moving modern world in which we live, with the aim to bring you down to earth. Woodfolk achieves this through simple design, a gentle colour palette and by using only natural materials and fabric.
All Woodfolk products are Australian designed and proudly made by Nepali artisans, throughout local and remote areas of Nepal. The Nepali artisans use their master skills to create beautiful and quality accessories through traditional carving, natural dying, knitting and weaving techniques.
What led you down your current path?
I originally studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts at COFA majoring in Photography, before taking off around the world on a two-year travel adventure that took me to 21 different countries. After spending the last six months of my trip in Central America stringing seeds and shells on banana tree vines, I knew jewellery was my calling.
When I got home I straight away enrolled at Enmore Design Centre, got myself an apprenticeship and began learning to hand-make fine jewellery. Over the years I worked for some of Sydney’s most prominent jewellers both designing and making. In 2009 I started my first business Julia Denes Jewellery that specialised in custom one-off pieces.
Starting Woodfolk felt like a very natural progression. The idea was born after feeling the need to work with more earthy materials and all things natural, combined with my love of travel. I worked on the business for about a year before I launched it at Life Instyle Melbourne a few months ago. It’s got such heart to it, I absolutely love working on it and love the response I’ve been getting from stores and customers.
Who do you admire in Australian accessories design?
I have a lot of admiration for natural, authentic, down to earth businesses like Elk, Nancybird and Ink and Spindle, just to name a few. I find it very inspiring the way they run their businesses. I also love and appreciate all the (much needed) real life, motivational work Clare Bowditch is doing.
What has been your greatest career achievement to-date?
Starting my new business Woodfolk has been my greatest and proudest achievement so far. One of the obstacles I faced in the earlier stages was finding the right people to work with overseas to make the wooden components of my jewellery. I knew I could have gone somewhere like China or India and work with a factory, however that seemed to defeat the purpose of my business. So after lots of research and time spent in Nepal, I found the most lovely, talented family to work with and I’m so happy to be supporting them. I already have my eyes set on a couple of other countries for new product ranges as well.
Describe a typical day at work…
I don’t really have a typical day as I’m running two businesses at the moment and wearing many hats. However, mornings generally start with emails and lots of cups of tea. Days can be filled with stringing and finishing all the wood jewellery; making the ceramic jewellery; getting Woodfolk orders ready and sent; preparing for different design markets and trade shows; liaising with stockists and contacting new stores; creating custom jewellery pieces; developing new ideas to build on the Woodfolk range; all the usual business stuff; and the list goes on. I do like to finish my day with some yoga, pilates or a walk to clear my head – otherwise I start to become a crazy person!
What future plans do you have for Woodfolk?
I have a lot of plans for Woodfolk and see a lot of potential. I’m planning to expand the jewellery line to include more ceramic pieces which have had a great response. A new line of natural style market bags and hand-dyed cotton scarves are already in progress, and I’m considering including some homewares to the range for next year. I’m in no rush though, so I’ll let the nature of this business take its course rather than try and do everything at once.
5 Questions in 5 minutes – Getting Personal:
Studio Sounds, what's playing?
Always something chilled like Ray LaMontagne or Birdy.
What are you currently reading?
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.
What are you looking forward to?
My upcoming (and much needed) holiday to Vietnam with my husband.
Can you share your go to resource for inspiration?
Blogs like The Design Files, Design Sponge, Books Kinokuniya on George St in Sydney (such a great book store) and I’m a total Pinterest addict (find my page at pinterest.com/woodfolknatural)
What is your local area's best kept secret?
There aren't many secrets left unfortunately in Sydney but I can share some favourite spots: Bondi Beach Farmer’s Markets every Saturday; Breakfast at Bread and Circus in Alexandria; and afternoon/evening walks in Centennial Park.
Andrea McArthur has a passion for all things visual and works as a freelance Graphic Designer. Type is her true love and goes weak at the knees over beautiful design. You'll find her sharing design related musings via @andyjane_mc