RSVP Businesswoman of the Month: Julie Danz, Co-Founder Juvi Designs
She began her jewellery business 10 years ago from her living room. Through hard work and grit, Julie and her other half Vincent never gave up, even adapting their brand to suit the economic climate. Their strategy worked, and Juvi’s colourful, fashion-forward collection can now be found in major retail stores nationwide. Here, Julie recalls the journey to get there…
What was your first job and how much were you paid?
The first “job” I had was making my own candles and selling them to friends, family and neighbours. They were all rainbow coloured and smelled of my mum’s perfume! I think I sold them for 50p when I was 10 years old!
Did you have a mentor?
There have been a lot of people who have inspired me along the way. My mother and sisters are very creative. I love the style icon Iris Apfel or anyone who is daring and courageous with colour.
How did your career path lead you to jewellery design?
Having met my husband Vincent (and the other half of Juvi), we both discovered a mutual love of travelling. On one of our first trips through Mexico, we came across many beautiful gemstone shops. It was an explosion of colour and I was like a kid in a sweet shop, where all the gemstones were hanging on the walls and displayed in glass jars on the shelves. I chose a few to bring home and began experimenting and designing jewellery around these beautiful gemstones, which Vincent then brought to life.
I can’t believe that 10 years ago this year we started Juvi in our living room in Rathgar, South Dublin and I’m so proud of how far the brand has come.
What’s the most important lesson you have learnt in your career?
To stay true to who you are. Juvi has a unique look and we have stayed true to what we love, what inspires us and to our customer. I absolutely love my job so am very passionate about what I do, but I quickly learnt that I cannot do everything myself so I get on with the design side of the business and surround myself with people who have strengths in the other areas we need.
How did the recession affect Juvi Designs and how did you overcome it?
After lots of to-ing and fro-ing, in September 2008 we opened our first concession in House of Fraser in Dundrum. It was the week the banks went bust and the start of the recession, but we had already signed a minimum yearly guarantee. This meant that we had to reconsider our designs and adapt to make lighter gemstone pieces that were more affordable and accessible to the market without losing Juvi’s unique identity or sacrificing the quality. We never gave up and worked so hard to hit the targets. Thankfully, we now have an amazing team of staff who have been with us a long time and know the brand inside out.
Does being an Irish brand help business in any way?
I think it does and this was especially evident during the recession. People were definitely conscious of buying Irish and continued to do so, which is great. Our business has grown from strength to strength over the years and we appreciate all the support we have received here at home.
In a competitive market, how does Juvi Designs stand out?
Colour, sparkly gemstones, and quality! The typical Juvi customer buys for quality and timeless elegance. This is what we stand for – we buy really high-quality stones, which speak for themselves. I am deeply committed to creating beautiful fashion-forward collections to bring the Juvi customer something new and exciting each season with my own Juvi twist on everything I make.
What have been the highlights of your time at Juvi Designs?
There have been so many highlights throughout the last 10 years! However, if I had to choose, my favourite day came very recently when we were approached by the ISPCC to design a necklace. We were honoured to be asked and are proud to have raised close to €28,000 for this fantastic charity which is close to our hearts as we have two wonderful kids.
Are you able to maintain a work/ life balance?
Building and growing a successful brand while balancing a busy family life has been something I have learnt to master. Realising you cannot do everything yourself and to focus on your strengths and hire others who have the strengths you do not possess is a must.
If you could give one tip for wearing jewellery what would it be?
Be true to yourself and your personal style. Mix gold and silver. Mix costume with precious and enjoy it. Make sure to take care of the pieces you love. They could be heirlooms one day!
Do you have a favourite Juvi Designs piece?
I have lots of favourite Juvi pieces so it would be too hard to choose. My favourite element of Juvi is working with colour everyday. Our latest collection, which features our own style of initials, birthstones, charms and stacking rings is incredibly colourful and meaningful. Birthstones can be so significant in people’s lives, symbolising their personality or the feelings they want to channel.