Monday, April 25, 2011

Jay Sharpe - Custom Made Jewelry in It's Finest Splendor

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down to interview an amazing jewelry designer and jeweler here in Richmond, Virginia. Jay Sharpe has been making premiere custom jewelry since 1990 and his work is absolutely stunning.

During the month of February, I was looking to spotlight an African American who has had an influence in the Arts and remembered Jay Sharpe, here in Richmond. While this feature is past its intended postdate, Jay Sharpe has left a lasting impression on me and my business that goes well beyond one month of celebrating.

Beginning his love affair with jewelry during his High School years, and receiving inspiration from his mother, he remembers bending and cutting up old bangles, making them into rings, and selling them for $4 dollars. The combination of making money and meeting young ladies seemed more than cool to this young teen.

His next confirmation came from watching and questioning his mother about women’s love for jewelry. Having explored art classes in school and his love for drawing and making things, creating jewelry was an easy transition for Jay Sharpe – “ Art and being creative is the same, it’s just different mediums…it’s which one you adapt to more easily”.

By his Junior year at Virginia Commonwealth Universities (VCU) Art School, Jay Sharpe had snagged an account with Nordstrom’s and used it as a business seminar project for his senior year, enabling him to learn all the ins and outs of production and business management. This seven (7) year business relationship, along with 24 other retail accounts along the way (scanning from Oklahoma to New York) was just the beginning of what was to come for this aspiring young designer.

Since then, Jay Sharpe's premier designs have been featured in national magazines and television shows, worn by celebrities and showcased in museums from here (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) to New York.

Today, nestled in Carytown, one of the South’s Best Neighborhoods to shop, Jay Sharpe has his very own jewelry boutique and has been referred to as the best custom ring designer in Richmond. Mr. Sharpe described his first piece of jewelry as “pretty crude looking”, but I still keep it around to remind me of just how far I've come."

Today, his designs are far from crude and he refers to his designs as classic in nature – “my designs have evolved and changed over time. Today they are more classic, but I typically make pieces that I like to describe as attractive and eye catching and I always make sure to use the best materials.”

I asked Mr. Sharpe what it took to get where he is today, and he replied, “support from my family, working every day, long hours, tendinitis, repetitive stress syndrome, lower back pain, and a love for what I do. It’s exciting to see a piece building as you process and create it, and the excitement from my customers make it all worthwhile. I feel accomplished to just still be here today."

When asked what one new celebrity he’d like to see wearing one of his pieces, his response was – First Lady Michelle Obama". She’s so very classy and respected, it would definitely be an honor.” Okay,If you’re out there listening Mr. President, Mother’s Day is in two weeks!

Jay Sharpe draws inspiration from his everyday life, people and things around him – “… I draw from fabric, clothing, conversations with people, just about any and everything. I’m very visual and my creative mind is always thinking, even when I’m having conversations.”

His design process time sounded very familiar to me, which lead our conversation to his newest venture – “sometimes, designs take a very, very, very, very long time - seriously! I’m now pulling from ideas that are like 4 to 5 years old. I wasn’t able to create them as fine jewelry, but with this new line of costume pieces..I’m able to do it all!”

Henleava is Jay Sharpe's newest line of jewelry and is named after his new born daughter and niece (Henle – Ava). He describes it as trendy and affordable. The pieces are made from non-traditional materials (new and recycled) and all pieces are created in the United States out of his own studio.

Launched in 2011, Mr. Sharpe is taking this new line out of the boutique and into the homes of women in Virginia. Henleava is exciting, fresh and getting a lot of buzz. Stylists (as his consultants are referred to) are having home parties all over town, and people love the designs and the affordability of the pieces.

African Americans throughout history have been met with roadblocks, and setbacks, but Jay Sharpe is just another example of how hard work, determination, and a dream can make it all possible if you have heart and a passion.

He’s a positive role model and volunteer for several non-profit organizations in the Richmond area that are geared toward African American youth. He teaches metal and jewelry classes at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond and gives back to the community regularly through his business.

Please visit Jay Sharpe’s website to learn more about this extraordinary designer and to view more of his beautiful pieces. If you’re visiting or live in the Richmond, Virginia area, drop by his studio to see all the splendor, and how you can have something custom made just for you!

Recent Events:
African Inspired Trunk Show
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
April 23, 2011

Jay Sharpe Studio
3405 W. Cary Street
Richmond, Virginia
804-353-4733
Websites:   http://www.jaysharpe.com/
                         http://www.henleava.com/

FacebookJay Sharpe
                          Henleava

5 comments:

Linda Landig said...

What a fascinating profile. Thank you for sharing!

Dee said...

Thanks for checking out his profile Linda!

Kayla @ TheEclecticElement said...

What an incredibly talented and interesting artist! I especially love how he created and sold his jewelry in high school-That gave me a little chuckle :)

I'm drooling over some of his great designs! I simply HAVE to visit his website.

Thanks for sharing this great artist and his jewelry with us xD

Jean said...

really fine interview, and his jewelry is perfectly spectacular--a great idea you shared in such a fun way with us, interviewing the wonderful Jay Sharpe!
jean xox

Dee said...

Thanks for reading about this great designer..I'm certainly his newest fan!

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