Award-winning jewelry designer Julez Bryant shares her creative process and hopeful vision for the future of fashion
Creative alchemy: the work of balancing every element necessary for bringing an artistic vision to life.
This is the work of Julez Bryant fine jewelry, and it is the shared mission of the sustainable women’s clothing brand La Peony Clothing. Both an art and a science, this process of transforming creative designs into wearable statement pieces requires imagination, perseverance and, above all, heart. It takes courage to follow one’s dreams and try something new. Yet, as both Bryant and La Peony Clothing Co-Founders Melony Huber and De Anne Combs have found, the impacts are powerful and enduring.
From Tech Trailblazer to Fine Jewelry Designer: A Courageous Dreamer’s JourneyLike Huber’s and Combs’, Bryant’s dream began in California, where she served as the director of a technology company. When a close friend - who later lost his life to cancer - gifted her a small jewel charm, everything changed. Inspired to live in the moment, focusing her energy on her dreams instead of her fears, Bryant transformed that same small charm into an original jewelry design - the first of many more to come.
Now, nearly 20 years later, Julez Bryant shares La Peony’s commitment to female empowerment through excellent design. Each lovingly crafted piece strikes the perfect tone between rough and refined, fierce and feminine, bringing a touch of luxury to every day while fueling rich self-expression. Bryant’s artistic vision and commitment to cultivating her own creative alchemy have led her on a journey to running an established brand and her first flagship store, Gallery by Julez Bryant in Solana Beach, California - filled with award-winning designer collections.
Here, she sheds some light on her creative process and opens up about her work.
How long have you known La Peony’s founders?
I have known Melony (“Mel”) for 8 years now. I met her at a trunk show and just knew she was special. I am sure De Anne is lovely if she is best friends with Mel.
What do you enjoy most about your friendship and partnership?
I admire Melony’s honesty and spirit. Her ability to always reinvent and forge ahead is remarkable; she is like sunshine.
What is your design philosophy, and how did that lead to a collaboration with La Peony Clothing?
When Melony and De Anne initially shared their excitement around this new brand, they most loved the sustainable aspect - the excitement around creating a product that could be worn day and night without contributing to overconsumption. Their philosophy was to travel lightly; make less of a negative impact on the planet and look/feel great while doing so. My brand shares that same sentiment. I design my pieces to travel with you daily for a lifetime. Simply put: it’s the right thing to do.
As the designer behind one of the most renowned fine jewelry brands, where do you draw inspiration for your handcrafted collections?
Music and the surroundings that grace our lives are my inspiration. I love imperfection. I love a rusty lock on a gorgeous iron gate with the sun gazing through. Nature provides us with beauty; when I am taking a long drive in my van along the coast and listening to music, my mind wanders… somehow the designs just come to be.
What's your favorite Julez Bryant piece?
Right now, I love the ZIGY pendant from our Summer Lovin’ collection. It is a gorgeous day with the perfect amount of sunshine and beauty.
How does your mission to empower women align with La Peony’s?
Like my collections, the spirit of La Peony is all about continued reinvention and living true to self. It’s uplifting and effortless, designed by women with pure hearts that are forever young.
Both your brand and La Peony believe sustainability is vital to the future of fashion. Can you tell us more about your responsible approach? to using responsibly-sourced 14 and 18-karat yellow, rose, and white gold?
Fine jewelry is one of the most sustainable products ever. If we design products to be worn over and over again, we create less damage to the earth and its wonderful people. We wear it for most of our lifetimes and then pass it on to our loved ones, so it continues to exist with a small footprint. That said, this footprint can become even smaller if we use recycled gold. When designers do use freshly mined gold, they must ensure that it comes from mines where workers are being treated fairly in a safe environment - and that Mother Earth is treated with respect for providing us with such amazing materials.
Natalia wearing the La Peony Megan Top in Cream with Julez Bryant 14k Gold Maly Diamond Bar Necklace.
Describe a typical day for you and your Southern California-based team?
I start my day with a walk at 6:45 am, biking to work whenever I can. There, we begin our process of making each little treasure by hand: forging the gold, refining it to 14 karats, then rolling it out so we can hand cut and carve. Then, we hand set the stones. I love my job every day - even when it’s difficult.
What do you envision for the future of the Julez Bryant brand?
So many possibilities! We are expanding into new cities through our own Julez Bryant retail called Gallery By Julez Bryant. We look forward to sharing fresh ideas, including collaborations like this one with La Peony.
Why do you feel it is important to support other female entrepreneurs in the industry?
For years, women were not taken seriously as entrepreneurs, and I think it’s still an uphill battle. Women carry a natural intuition, and we can be tough - but in a way that is unique to femininity. We also share a sense of inclusion that comes naturally; supporting each other feels tribal, in a powerfully positive way. Women instinctively nurture children to adulthood, and this ability can carry over to building a brand or company. Our contributions and potential should never be overlooked.
If you could give one piece of advice to women who want to start a business, what would it be?
I always say: first, get QuickBooks! Stay organized from the beginning, and know your client. Don’t be afraid to fail at many things (especially at the start); it’s how we develop our process and learn. Don’t get caught up with celebrity placement, Instagram, etc. Just focus on making a good product, selling to retailers or direct to consumers that match your brand. Most of all, don’t hold back. If you only dip your toes in the water, you won’t learn how to swim.
ABOUT LA PEONY CLOTHING
Mom, wife, sister, friend, business owner, volunteer. These are just a few of our highlights as life-long friends. For over 30 years, we have shared many of life's journeys and have always held tightly to the notion that life is a beautiful gift and should be about collecting moments.
We have designed and curated an exclusive collection to empower all women to live life fully and dress boldly. At a time when women of all ages and backgrounds are redefining what it means to be feminine, their clothing should help them celebrate their beauty and power.