Interview with Entrepreness Monika Reed of Favor Jewelry

Interview by Emily Carlyle, reposted from the CRAVE Portland site HERE:

Favor is a jewelry design and production studio founded by Monika Reed as a way to offer delicate, timeless, and sentimental jewelry, inspired by the shapes, stones, and metals found in the natural world.

Lets begin with the basics; tell me about your love for jewelry.
Well, I’ve always been pretty creative and jewelry is just something I’ve always done. I remember making bead bracelets when I was little, so I don’t know where it actually started but I’ve always been interested in it and I worked in bead stores throughout high school and after that I worked with jewelry designers. That’s where I became really interested in the business aspect of it. I had never really thought about going into business for myself before that. I kept thinking that it was something that was really accessible. When I moved to Portland it was originally to go to school and the business was what I did on the side. Over time it grew and I had to make a choice. I chose Favor.

How did you decide to start your own business? Was it something you had always planned or did you have an “aha” moment somewhere along the road?
It was sort of an ‘aha’ moment, not one exact moment but just working with the other designers, seeing what the process was and thinking, “that’s what I want to do”.

Sustainability and ethical business practices are something you are extremely passionate about, how big a part does this play in your business?
Definitely. I was studying cultural anthropology and I was really interested in the actually applied aspect of it, so looking at the big issue and then finding little things you can do to make everything just work better and to make people happier and just more fair towards everybody and everything. When I really started thinking about how it actually was applied to my life, ethical business just seemed really like the next step.

Does your commitment to following these guidelines make your job harder?
Yes. I mean, you do have to think about it a lot more and really analyze all the pieces. Every time I find a new supplier, I need to research them and ask all the necessary questions, so it does get more complicated. But, I can sleep better at night.

What is the hardest thing about owning your own business? What’s the most rewarding?
The hardest thing would be time management. I work at home, so it’s really difficult to separate my time. To have that feeling that you are home and relaxed doesn’t really exist anymore. The best part would be owning the vision. I can really make sure that everything is how I want it to be and well, the buck stops here. So it’s just really fulfilling to see it fall into place the way you want it to.

What’s the biggest mistake that you’ll never make again?
I really don’t think there have been any yet. I have only been full time since April 2010, so I am relatively new. There have been setbacks but I think that I have been able to learn my lesson and just move on. I really try and focus on all the good parts! Optimism has been the cure.

When choosing jewelry for yourself, what do you look for?
I like it wearable and not fussy. It has to be something you can put on and kind of forget about but you know its still going to be there at the end of the day, like it won’t just slip off. I also really like clean and minimalist and I like things to feel good too, even just in your hand. I spent a lot of time just trying to find the right chain to use, I use the same chain in all of my designs and that just took forever. Some would feel too heavy, too light, and too bendable. I really just like the weight in your hand.

Have you ever had ‘designer’s block’? How do you overcome that?
Not yet! I keep a sketchbook going. I don’t design as I go; I come up with a collection and then just edit it down. I will have like a week where I just design and make things. If I have any problems during that time I will just go back through all my sketches and get back on the right track.

Where do you pull inspiration from when you are having that period of design and creativity?
I really like just kind of balanced positive and negative space. So, I am drawn to shadows and handwriting. I read once that when men doodle they make really hard lines and corners, sharp shapes and when women doodle they are more soft and flowy, like spirals and things like that. That’s what I do. I translate those soft, spiral shapes into jewelry.

What is a valuable piece of advice that you were given that you think others should also receive?
To be optimistic! Betsy Cross, from Betsy & Iya told me once to “float on the good stuff, and let the bad stuff disappear”. It has been excellent advice.

What does the future hold for you and Favor?
Well, I want to continue to expand wholesale accounts and I want to be all over North America and maybe even expand to Europe after that. In the short term, I am really looking forward to doing some trade shows and retail shows.

Buy Favor Jewelry here: