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Life and Work with Jen Lesea-Ames

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jen Lesea-Ames.

Jen, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Being a jewelry designer and metalsmith is a second career for me. As a kid, I excelled in science and sports, and I never thought of myself as a creative person (my sister was considered the artist in the family). With a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology, I had a successful personal fitness training and triathlon coaching career for 18 years. During this time, I nurtured my childhood fascination of rocks and minerals by collecting stones; I am and always have been a “rock hound.” In 2009, I pulled some dusty gemstone beads out of a drawer and taught myself basic beading. Beading became a form of meditation for me.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia and faced two hip preservation surgeries called a “periactabular osteotomy (PAO),” where the hip socket is repositioned to be more properly aligned. Thus, I found myself at a crossroads with my fitness career and my part-time jewelry business. I officially retired from training and coaching in June 2014 and decided to go full-time with my jewelry business.

Currently, I have a working studio in Boulder and two-part time employees. I sell my wares at art shows, online, and select retailers across the country.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Being an entrepreneur, or what I would like to call an “art-repreneur” is not a smooth road: the highs are really high and the lows can be really low. First, art-repreneurs have to move past the stereotype that being a working artist isn’t a “real job” and the mindset of a “starving artist.” My biggest struggles are financing the growth of business by myself, scaling the business efficiently, and avoiding burnout. In the early stages of my full-time jewelry business, recovering from two major orthopedic surgeries – I had to relearn how to walk again – was a huge struggle while trying to work at the same time.

My advice for women starting their journey is:
– be coachable: learn from industry experts and successful entrepreneurs
– be tenacious: its a marathon, not a sprint
– be true to yourself: you know what is best for you
– be part of a tribe: know who supports you and uplifts you

Please tell us about Jen Lesea Designs.
I create modern jewelry that is inspired by the Rocky Mountains. The materials I use are refined metals and ethically-sourced gemstones. I specialize in creating one-of-a-kind metal textures by fusing sterling silver, in which heat from my torch and flux is used; no solder is involved. The result is jewelry that is textured and durable, yet incredibly lightweight.

I am not only proud of my exceptional customer service and quality of my jewelry, but also I am dedicated to giving back. A portion of all online sales goes to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute to support research and treatment for hip dysplasia. Additionally, a portion of my online sales from my mountain jewelry goes to the National Park Foundation. Both non-profits are near and dear to my heart.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
Learn as much as you can and don’t give up!

Pricing:

  • Birthstone jewelry starting $15
  • Mountain Jewelry: $75-$600
  • One-of-a-kind Jewelry: $50-$1000

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Shawn Ames, Chris Weston

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