Being young with a creative mindset can be challenging at times, especially when you are still discovering your artistic talent that is ready to bloom. This is the story of Jude Benhalim, a creative young girl who blossomed into a successful jewelry designer at the tender age of 17. EniGma’s Laila Rostom spoke to Jude to learn more about her brand, J Designs, and her journey as an aspiring jewelry designer.
Tell us about yourself and your jewelry brand:
I founded my jewelry brand 6 years ago. It took one creative design project in high school to motivate me to pursue jewelry design; and that’s when I established this business with my mother and partner, Rana Alazm. I then studied filmmaking in the American University in Cairo, and although it is not related to jewelry design, it opened up my eyes to many gender-related ideologies that became a major conceptual force behind my brand; it encouraged me to powerfully embrace and express my individuality in the pieces I create.
Did you grow up in an artistic environment?
Having lived my entire life in Egypt, I grew up in an ideal environment for pursuing design. My mother works in the fashion industry and my father is an architect, which explains why my work is inspired by an amalgamation of architectural constructions and modern fashion.
What made you interested in jewelry designing? When & how did you take the step to start?
As part of the IB program in high school, I had to complete a creative design project of my choice. Since jewelry was always a big interest of mine, I chose to make a debut collection of beaded jewelry and sold it at a bazaar exhibition for charity. The event was a big success and everyone was very encouraging of my work and thought it was impressive that I was only 17. That’s what gave me the first push to turn this project into a start-up business.
Did you face any challenges in your project? And what was the most challenging?
I think the biggest challenge was having to juggle my work and my studies. It became stressful at times, but thanks to my mother and business partner, I was able to find a good balance between the two.
How do you keep up with your competitors?
I always make sure to create unique designs that hold an oriental feel (Arabic calligraphy) with a modern twist, and that’s what essentially gives my brand its uniqueness. The materials used in my jewelry are a combination that I can confidently say no other jewelry designer use: sterling silver and gold-plated brass combined with custom-made acrylic stones. The coloured stones are each custom-designed and handmade from a special resin material particularly for my jewelry, and that is what allows my customers to customize the jewelry to their preference of stone color. It is also the signature element that defines my designs and makes them instantly recognizable.
How do you get your materials?
All my jewelry is designed, assembled and hand-finished in our Cairo studio using the finest 925 silver and gold-plated brass. Our custom-made resin stones are handmade outside our workshop and assembled to the metals by hand in our studio using a strong adhesive that has been specially created to bond metal and acrylic together.
Do you customize your designs and do you take orders as well, depending on what people want?
What is very unique about my brand is that most pieces come in a variety of stone colors and engraved Arabic calligraphy options, which gives the customer the freedom to customize their jewelry and to create the piece that speaks to them the most. I do not make customizable jewelry or create jewelry that I did not design.
What do you love designing most?
I love the design process in general; I don’t have a specific preference. I think seeing my sketches come to life is the best part of it all.
Do you follow a certain theme in your designs or do they usually depend on a certain inspiration?
My designs are aesthetically inspired by modern art and architecture. That is something constant. Conceptually, each collection builds on the one before it, creating a pattern, a journey towards ultimate individuality. I design each piece of jewelry with a fearless female spirit in mind, inspired by her journey. Each design is an expression of this muse and each collection moves with her, reflecting a specific sequence from her ongoing story. Beginning with her curiosity, she starts to explore spaces outside of her comfort zone, discovering new and exciting ways to feed her soul. The ‘She’ collection was the beginning of this journey, followed by ‘Her Cosmos’ where ‘She’ explores her individuality, realizing her potential and pushing her limits. Her next stop is a new space where ‘She’ will continue to grow. My jewelry is redefined by each wearer’s inner beauty and strength, bringing each design to life in her own unique way.
Any advice to those who want to start their own business in the field?
Always believe in your art no matter how crazy it could be, dont be afraid to step outside the box. Do what you love and you will always find an audience that will appreciate it.