As a devoted stay-at-home mom seeking to maintain her creativity and style, Leah Johnson began making and selling jewelry in 2014. What began as a small business on Etsy, has ballooned into a full-time dream. Leah now owns LJ Artisan Designs and creates unique pieces for women, who, like herself, refuse to be invisible.
Tell me about LJ Artisan Designs. What inspired you to begin your business?
"LJ Artisan Designs sells artisan jewelry that has a simple elegance that gets noticed! Using semi-precious gemstones and metals along with metalsmithing methods that have stood the test of time, I am dedicated to offering beautiful and unique jewelry designs along with an exceptional buying experience. I am a trained speech-language pathologist, but during a time of being a stay-at-home mom, I needed something that fulfilled a creative side in me. Intending to make jewelry for my own creative and style needs, a hobby burgeoned into a now, full-time business."
Tell me about yourself. How/why did you become a jewelry designer?
"I’m a wife and mother to four children ages 12 to 24. I’ve worked as a speech-language pathologist, but I also have loved my time as a stay-at-home mom for my children. When my twins, who are now 12 years old, were in preschool, I realized that I desperately needed something to fulfill a creative part of me. I decided to learn to make jewelry and watched YouTube videos to learn to basic techniques. I couldn’t get enough and delved into metalsmithing classes to learn more. It has been such a fun journey and I love that there is always more to learn!"
Tell me about the pieces you create.
"When I first started making jewelry, my designs had a distinct rustic boho feeling. While I do still love my rustic designs, I also love creating pieces that have more of a sophisticated elegance. While I do work with solid gold, I typically use semi-precious materials in my jewelry designs. I, myself, love to change out my jewelry often, and I love that using semi-precious gemstones and metals allows me to keep my designs at an accessible price point. I also just love the array of semi-precious gemstones. From labradorite to the many different jaspers, I love the natural irregularities of these stones."
On your website you say, "I create jewelry for women who refuse to be invisible." I love this. Can you explain what you mean by it?
"As a stay-at-home mom, I experienced what it was like to give so much of myself that I started to feel invisible. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen the same thing happen as we care for aging parents and loved ones. We, as women, have such generous and caring hearts, but it’s easy to start to feel invisible as we give and give to others. I noticed that when I put on a beautiful piece of jewelry, it reminded me that I was still a woman with style. It is my hope that when a woman wears an LJ jewelry item, she will be reminded that she is the opposite of invisible. She is beautiful, unique and vibrant!"
What has been the response to your designs?
"I am so humbled by the incredible support that I have received! Starting with my friends and family members who cheered me on as I made my first designs to the lovely customers that I have locally and around the country who continue to come back again and again. I am always working to design jewelry that they will love."
Tell me about The Style Box subscription. Why did you begin this service?
"The Style Box by LJ subscription box program has become something so dear to my heart! Style Box members receive a beautiful box each month with two jewelry items that have been designed for them. Through a personalized intake process, I find out what each member loves and what her style is and I work to design jewelry that she will love every month. Many of my Style Box by LJ purchasers are men who are wanting to surprise and delight their wives. It’s a win-win because she gets beautiful jewelry every month that she loves and he feels like a Rockstar husband every month!"
Your pieces are so beautiful - they look like wearable art. Was this the intention?
"Thank you so much! I am incredibly grateful to be able to combine my love of natural materials and beautiful design to create jewelry that women love to wear. My goal is always to create jewelry that will help women feel like the unique and vibrant women that they are."
What are your most popular or signature pieces?
"My mixed metal designs such as the Paige necklace and earrings, the Presley necklace and earrings and the Blythe necklace are big sellers. They are so versatile and complement just about any outfit. The Kira cuff bracelet and the Selena bracelet are also very popular. The Style Box by LJ continues to be popular as a gift, as well as women who purchase it for themselves. During COVID quarantine, I started creating One of a Kind items and making them available each month. They typically sell out very quickly and have become very popular and a wonderful creative outlet for me."
Valentine's Day is the perfect time to give a gift of jewelry. Why does jewelry - particularly your jewelry - make the perfect Valentine's gift?
"In my experience, there’s nothing like jewelry to make a woman feel cherished, and isn’t that what we as women want - to feel cherished and appreciated? I strive to create designs that women love to wear along with an exceptional buying experience. Men truly want to give a gift that their wives will love and remind them of this love every time they wear it. I do my best to help men achieve this goal through a seamless and easy buying experience."
Tell me about the jewelry quiz on your website. Has this been a successful tool in helping customers find the perfect piece(s)?
"I’ve had so much fun creating the Jewelry Personality Quiz! Many women (and the men who are buying for them) ask me to help them hone in on their personal style. I created this jewelry quiz as a way to help women learn more about their style in a fun way. Based on their quiz results, they are then shown items that will be just right for them."
On your site you state, "Simple elegance that gets noticed." Explain this statement. Would you say this perfectly describes your pieces?
"My own style tends toward 'less is more' with something special thrown in. You won’t find a triple layered tassel earring in the LJ Artisan Designs collections, but you will find jewelry with plenty of interest and beauty. I love it when my customer feels like she is wearing the jewelry, not the jewelry wearing her."
What is the most rewarding part of your artistry?
"I love making something beautiful out of utilitarian materials like wire, sheet metal and essentially rocks, but hearing from my customers how much they love wearing my jewelry designs really fills me up. Giving 10% of my proceeds to a different local nonprofit organization each month is also very dear to my heart. Knowing that I am giving back to the community that I love and helping people in need is what keeps me motivated."
For more information about LJ Artisan Designs, visit LJArtisanDesigns.com. Leah’s pieces also can be found at Mainstream Boutique of Flower Mound and Roanoke Trading Co.