Jane Winchester creates beautiful coin jewelry celebrating life's milestones. We sat down with her to find out more about her creative process, how she chose these eight amulets, and what might come next.
Your jewelry has this old-world, deep, almost heirloom-y feel to it - yet it's modern, very cool, and truly beautiful. We love it! What inspired you to create your jewelry?
First of all, thank you for loving it! I began by researching gypsy coin jewelry. American gypsies would take their money and turn it to jewelry - it was literally a way to show prosperity and transport wealth. As I started designing coins, I realized that my wealth is not from one - it's from all of the life experiences I have had. Getting married, getting divorced, finding love again, losing my dad to cancer, having my children, feeling completely blessed and lucky. So, I decided to create coins to commemorate life's milestones.
You refer to your collection as being comprised of eight amulets. Amulets are believed to give protection against danger, evil or disease. Do you feel there is a connection between where the pendant rests on your heart and its potential to ward off trouble and negativity?
OOOH, such a good question. For me, the amulet is a mental thing. It doesn't matter where I wear it; I know I have it on. There have been times when I carry our LUCKY pendant in my pocket because I just want a little extra good fortune. That said, there is something to letting people you know have a little extra energy on your side. I have also worn the PROTECT pendant front and center, so everyone can see it!
There is something so special and individual about each piece in your collection, as if there is an energy that is unlocked and connected to you when it is worn. Tell us, how do you wear your amulets? Do you have any suggestions as to how others might enjoy theirs?
I really want each piece to be about the wearer, not the brand. When someone connects to the piece and wears it their own way, it makes my DAY! I like to wear my coins with other charms double wrapped on our 36" chain. Lately, I have been wearing PEACE a lot because I miss my dad, and I wear it with a vintage Cartier charm etched with the number 7, my lucky number (and my family of 5 kids, husband and me).
Do you have an inspirational quotation or mantra that guides you?
I have a couple. The first is pretty simple: BE YOURSELF. In the fashion space, it can be a game of looking to others for inspiration, looking around and feeling like you aren't good enough. I want to be really comfortable with my uniqueness because no one else can create that. The second is: EMPOWERED WOMEN EMPOWER WOMEN. I just love the change in the world today, the way women are working together and supporting each other, helping others rise up. It feels really right. I am working to do my part to empower others, and I certainly benefitted from others helping me (like you telling my story with this blog!).
You spent the last several years working for major fashion brands including Barneys New York and Lilly Pulitzer, yet your Jane Winchester collection feels utterly yours and not derivative of other labels. Who - or what - are your greatest influences?
I think the general category of 'free spirit' would be my greatest influence! I love seeing people be themselves - I don't want to be them, but I find great influence in their individuality. I love DVF. I love Iris Apfel. I love Peggy Guggenheim. I love Meryl Streep. I love Lilly Pulitzer! I love Jade Jagger. These women created styles all their own.
You have a very busy, full, and happy family life, with a great husband and five children. Any tips on how to balance running a business, staying creative, and growing a vibrant family?
Well, it's really hard, and it's really fun. I try to concentrate on work...and then concentrate on family. If I try to do both at the same time, I'm bad at work and a crappy mom. So, the division has helped me. I also try really hard to live in the moment, look at things from my kids' point of view and have FUN.
When you design and create, do you listen to music? Do you work in a studio or out in nature? What is your process?
I think I am like many creatives in that I'm better in an inspirational space - and I'm certainly better when the sun is shining. I am always listening to music, usually reggae or jazz, when drawing. When I created a lot of the line, I was sitting outside sketching - sometimes watching the Amazon special on the Grateful Dead. I carry a sketch book with me most places. Ideas become pages of little doodles, that then might become a collection.
What is the most surprising lesson you've learned about running your own business that you wished you would have been taught instead of "learning it the hard way"?
Personally, the part that has surprised me that isn't necessarily bad is that it can be kind of lonely to have a new business. I worked in an office with incredible women for 11 years and now I work solo... so I'm looking forward to building this brand up and creating a really fun office full of smart people!
Would you encourage your children to travel a path of entrepreneurship? If yes, what would your top guiding principle be for them?
I would encourage them if they have the passion. The drive and passion are everything. And my guiding principle - easy - you have a plan and goals, It's okay if you go off the plan but start with a roadmap of what you want to happen.
Mother's Day is right around the corner. We loved your Instagram post featuring the beautiful Mother's Day Gift Set, which includes a matching set of pendants, one for you and one for your mom. As you so perfectly state, it does exactly what jewelry is meant to do - tie us to someone, to help us remember and stay connected. The perfect expression of what your collection is all about!
We love your jewelry, what it stands for, and how it makes people feel. And we truly enjoyed getting to know you. Thank you, Jane!