To gear up for our Summit21 Conference this year in Atlanta, 21Ninety has scored exclusive interviews with some of this year's participants.
Enter Société Urbane, which "embodies cool jewels for the global citizen. The aesthetic reflects our deep love of minimalism, 70s Bohemia, street style, indigenous cultures and travel to faraway places. Each piece is handmade combining organic “power and healing” stones, vintage and handmade beads from local artisans and makers around the world."
That is how Natasha Gullett, creator of Société Urbane, would describe the handcrafted jewelry. And, the finished result? You will have a collection of modern statement jewelry that exudes effortless Modern Bohemian cool.
Read 21Ninety's exclusive interview below:
Photo: Société Urbane
21Ninety: Can you give us a little of your background? What inspired you to create Société Urbane?
Natasha Gullett: For a long time, I worked for a global hotel company in Corporate Communications and branding. When I would travel abroad, I often brought back A LOT of jewelry. However, sometimes, the things I loved when I was overseas — didn’t necessarily translate to my everyday style at home.
When I started jewelry design, I knew little about this medium other than I loved to wear it. Gradually after a few classes, a lot of practice and prototypes, my passions and aesthetic morphed into a style I loved. I call it Modern (Afro) Bohemian.
The idea for Société Urbane was born out of a desire to wear jewelry that paid homage to the adornments of indigenous cultures but also translated into highly wearable everyday statement pieces. I couldn’t find anything out there that was not only special but also within my price range. So — I designed it myself!
21N: What was the vision behind it?
NG: The idea for Société Urbane was born out of a desire to wear jewelry that paid homage to the adornments of indigenous cultures but also translated into highly wearable everyday statement pieces.
I’m very passionate about the redefining of luxury and beauty standards as well as the merging of cultural aesthetics — which I think my pieces and my brand reflect. I like making simple things feel luxurious. I am also interested in exploring the idea of culturally why we place a higher value on some organic materials and not others.
I see jewelry as a statement of style and individuality, and I work to incorporate that level of authenticity into each of my pieces. My aesthetic is influenced by minimalism (although I’m still working on that capsule wardrobe), 70s Bohemia, street style, distant cultures, and worldly ramblings.”
Photo: Société Urbane
21N: How long have you been creating customized JEWELRY Was this always your chosen career path?
NG: I have always loved jewelry and adornments of any kind. But, I’ve only been building Société Urbane for about three years. This was not my chosen career path; previously, I worked in the hospitality industry as a Corporate Communications executive. I taught myself to design jewelry through YouTube University, a beading class and a lot of practice and prototypes.
21N: What was the process like in building the business and how long did it take to get it up and running?
I would say it took about a year before I felt like I was on solid ground. With the help of lots of creative friends, I was able to get all of my assets in place i.e., building my website, refining my branding ideas and developing my social media accounts.
Running a business solo is a juggling act like nothing I’ve experienced before. I generally have a plan for a week/the month, but I always have to be prepared for the unexpected event or opportunity. Or my focus being pulled away from the thing I planned to prioritize. I also have to say it is quite rewarding to see progress and growth, knowing that it all started from a seed of an idea that was floating in my head.
Photo: Société Urbane
21N: What inspired the name choice?
NG: My life on the road inspired the name choice. When I traveled, I made new friends everywhere I went. If I could wave a wand and have them around me all the time --in our little community or “society” --that would be magical. The name plays with this idea of this magical community of global-minded nomads that love creativity, new and exciting cultures, and of course, style.
21N: What kind of work goes into the process of creating these products? What types of materials do you use?
I love the creative process! But it is still a process. Often, it involves quick mood boards or research —or I may see a person in the street that inspires an idea for a piece.
Typically, after creating a shell of an idea-- I lay out my materials and see where it takes me. I’ll develop combinations on instinct adding and subtracting. The process usually ends with me at my work table surrounded by piles of materials and a single piece (or many on a good day) that I love. It is the best feeling when I achieve my vision.
Each piece is handmade combining organic “power and healing” stones, vintage and handmade beads from local artisans and makers around the world. My primary materials are trade beads, bones, and semi-precious metals.
Photo: Société Urbane
21N: Why Gold — where’s the silver?
NG: I like the luxury of Gold (golden elements). I love the history of this precious metal and the way that ancient indigenous cultures used and revered it over centuries. I also like the juxtaposition of Gold against other simple materials. Again, it’s a way to explore the idea of why we place a higher value on some organic materials and not others.
21N: Where’s the color?
NG: My jewelry gives a nod to minimalism in that I intentionally work with a limited color palette. The immediate reason for this was because I love the simplicity of black, gold, white, and varying shades of neutrals (i.e., greys and browns). Second, because the challenge of those parameters became addictive, it helps streamline my ideas (there are many!) but also encourages this crazy puzzle of creative possibilities through limitation.
21N: Which products were the most fun to create? Any favorites for clients?
NG: Funny enough, it’s the thing I resisted the most. I started out designing only necklaces. The more my following grew—the higher the requests for other options — the most popular being earrings. I sat on the idea for a while. I wanted to make sure that whatever I created felt as special and as unique as the necklaces. Now earrings are the most popular!
In terms of client favorites, I would say my take on the classic gold hoops continues to be popular. I update this style seasonally, and the demand for it is continual.
21N: What do you think makes your business unique over others like it?
NG: Jewelry is a saturated category. However, I believe I have a unique point of view on the possibilities of what statement jewelry can be.
I believe it can be bold but also ideal for everyday wear. It can pay homage to unique and indigenous cultures without feeling costume. It can look and feel luxurious but not be wildly expensive.
21N: What do you love most about the work you do?
NG: I love connecting with people. Also, seeing them feel beautiful and comfortable enough in their skin to take on anything. The right adornments and clothing can help do just that.
Wearers often comment on feeling like my jewelry transports them to some distant place they’ve visited or want to go. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
21N: What do you hope to gain from Summit 21 this year? Is there anything you wish to teach the Summit 21 audience about?
NG: I am excited about the prospect of networking and learning from other creatives and entrepreneurs. I’ve found that on this journey, most of my growth and knowledge as a businesswoman has been gained/shared through my entrepreneurial relationships and friendships. I learned a lot about business in Corporate America, but this is a different type of journey. If I could share one piece of knowledge is that mentors/support come in all ages, backgrounds, and life experiences.
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