Jules Sherman is a designer who specializes in luggage tags, pouches, belts, hair clips, and other accessories, all done in rubber relief. Visit Jules online at YosiGirls.com (for little girls), and YosifaPenina.com (for big girls). Pieces can be purchased at SmashingDarling.com, your source for indie fashion.
You have an interesting bio on your web page. Can you elaborate a little bit on your background?
Growing up, I had a great deal of encouragement from my parents to develop my artistic skills. My father is a very talented and prolific painter, and my mother is a savvy business woman. Both of these influences led me to where I am now. All of my life I knew I wanted to be some kind of artist.
When I went to RISD [Rhode Island School of Design] the first year, I had my heart set on a printmaking major. I enjoyed the technical aspect of printing, and of course, I love to draw. However, after a few of my 3D design classes, I changed my path, and thanks to the encouragement of an incredibly talented friend, Justin Brown, I decided to major in industrial design.
After I graduated, I realized I still didn't know what area of industrial design I wanted to focus on. This indecisiveness led me through a labyrinth of job experiences. I've designed everything from custom furniture to spice racks and water-bottles. In between, I dabbled in bathroom hardware, outdoor fireplaces, costume jewelry, and perfume bottles. I learned that large corporations feel like being on a design-slut treadmill, and that working for small, or family owned companies was more my style, as I received more respect and freedom to express my point of view.
How did you come to start your own company?
It was only in the last few years that I had the money to consider developing my own product line. I decided that instead of saving my bonuses for retirement, I would invest them in myself so I could one day work full-time for myself. It is still a dream in progress, as I continue to hold a design director position as my day job. Luckily for me, my mother's real estate business is slowing down these days and she has offered to help me with the sales and marketing of my products. I couldn't do it without her. I would say that most of my sales are because of her efforts. The tough thing about starting a business while working full time is that I am always working. I work most week nights and every weekend. It's a commitment that requires a lot of consistency and care. I am at a point now where I am filling more and more orders, but still not enough to pay the mortgage, and the costs of new product development and trade shows.
How involved are you in the design and physical creation of your pieces?
I design and develop all of my own products. This is my first love, and it's what I do best. In addition I deal with the manufacturing issues and visit the factories that produce my products. Besides these aspects, I also fill all of my own orders. This entails light book keeping, keeping a stocked inventory room and shipping issues. I have two fantastic web designers (Kesler Creative Communications and Sebastian Wintermute), which helps a lot!
What inspires you? Specifically, what inspired the black and white and red pouch?
The black and red pouch is inspired by historical Russian fabric prints I found online. In general? Color, texture, and fashion. Even more in general: simple beauty and a little cleverness.
How did you decide on rubber accessories?
Ever since I designed a cosmetic bag for Bath & Body Works with a little rubber brand tag, I wanted to use that material for other products. There is something beautifully tactile about the material. The material also has several limitations I have learned through trial and error, but these limitations help me to design my products now. I also like the fact that my products require molds for manufacturing. I think that is the industrial designer in me! I love molds!
All of your pieces have a fantastic 3D carved surface. Can you talk about the process? Is it harder to design something like that?
As I mentioned before, the material is molded, so while I design a pattern or drawing, I think about how much 3-dimensionality I want the piece to have. When I design the pieces, I have to draw a lot of cross-sections for the factory's mold-maker so they can understand the depth I want for each color. The technical drawing skills I learned as an industrial design student are very helpful this way. Knowing how to communicate visually is essential in getting the product I want. I don't really know if this way of making things is "harder" than other ways of making things. It's just a way.