We honestly don’t think that we have ever met a cooler or more inspiring person than Katie Bly. From her beautiful smile to her palpable excitement when showing us her designs everything about her radiates an effortless happiness and chic that we can only imagine comes from the pure joy that is an artist able to peruse her passions. Personally, I have a few Bly Design pieces in my jewelry box (Mini Cactus Pendant & Going Stag Pendant) and have big plans to expand. When we first laid eyes on Katie’s creations we knew that we had hit the jackpot of wearable art, and today we have the pleasure of sharing her inspiration.
Tell us a little bit about you, and your path to jewelry making!
I come from a large family of seven, born and raised in a small suburb in North Carolina. My Mother homeschooled all of us, and really created a environment that nurtured exploring. We spent our childhood days wondering creek beds, and attempting homemade science experiments (whoa, watch out). When I was eleven, my parents gave me a small, electric keyboard. From there, I begged for piano lessons, to which they happily obliged. I had an insatiable appetite for classical piano, so decided to make a full time thing of it in college by majoring in music. At this same time, I discovered my love for jewelry design. It happened while I was visiting my late Grandmother’s house in Ohio. Sorting through a deceased loved one’s belongings is painful, and difficult to do, but this is the moment my journey into jewelry making began (thank you, Grandma). I found some crystals from a broken chandelier that were going to be tossed out, and grabbed a few in hopes of making something with them. From this point, I started beading and doing various other things I could figure out on my own (This is where my homeschool education was really helpful to me). I’ve always preferred a solo creative process, with lots of trial and error. I later refined my skills in various other techniques (metal, leather and resin) with the help of teachers.
We noticed that you use a lot of Opals in your designs – is that your favorite stone?
I love opals. Their subtle iridescence is so captivating. I actually discovered a way of making my own opals by accident, using resin. What fun! I love making them into any shape I please. I don’t design pieces around a stone’s shape like most designers, but actually vice versa.
We are obsessing over your gold pendants – what is your creative process?
My creative process starts with a single idea, that usually hits me like a ton of bricks. From this point, it’s hard to sleep until I at least jot some things down (My inspiration/visions usually happen at night, so I keep a notepad on my bedside table). After I’ve given some thought to the idea, lots of loud music and coffee (or boos depending on how hard the design is to execute) collide as I spend some serious time in the studio hammering it all out (so to speak). It’s the best feeling in the world holding a piece of jewelry for the first time, you dreamt up. That feeling of, “here it is, I actually made this thought become a reality!”
Your designs are so unique, edgy and yet feel like they would go with every single thing in our closets – what styling advice to you have for outfits built around your pieces?
Don’t be afraid to layer jewelry. I love mixing metals, and wearing pieces from different designers together. Have fun trying new combinations you wound’t have thought of before!
You are based in Charlotte, NC – why there?
Charlotte is my home town, so I’ve met so many people here I’ve grown to know and love. I currently live in Concord (just outside of Charlotte), but plan to move to the mountains of North Carolina soon. I like the idea of having a studio nestled in vast, beautiful surroundings.
What pieces would you recommend to those taking a first look at your designs?
Start with a good layering piece, like the “down the line” or “galaxies apart opal ring”. This will give you lots of creative options for incorporating with other pieces from your jewelry wardrobe. If you want one good statement piece to wear with almost anything, try the “Opal Aurora” or “Axis cuff”
It’s a Friday night – what are you doing and what are you wearing?
I recently bought a pair of Zara, wax leggings. Love them. They are so comfortable, and stretchy, but have the appearance of leather. I pair that with my favorite flowy top from Free People (Hallowed Hill pullover). Lots of jewelry, red lips, and I’m set. There is a little Italian restaurant my boyfriend and I like to frequent in Concord. If we aren’t there, we are probably entertaining with friends, whipping up some kind of cheesy dip, and pinterest-inspired craft cocktails, yum.
What word describes being a twenty something?
Discovery. Don’t be afraid to mess up, feel vulnerable, or try new things. I firmly believe people can reinvent themselves at any age, but it is certainly easier in your twenties, so go for it!
What is the most important thing you have learned as a twenty something business owner?
The people that are most successful in any business, are the people who don’t let the bumps in the road take them down. Keep going, and staying positive! Set your vision, and follow through. There will be bad days, but keep your eyes looking ahead. I started my business beading on my living room floor with bead money from waiting tables. I never could have dreamt I would grace the pages of Vogue, and one day support myself entirely from my business.
What advice do you have for other twenty somethings?
Don’t do anything out of obligation for someone else. This life is so short to follow someone else’s path. Listen to your intuition. Walk away from people in your life who hold you back from following your bliss. Keep the people that foster your spirit close.
What else should we know about you?
My dog, Rocco, is my son. My friend just had a felt ornament custom made in his likeness as my Christmas gift. I cried.