A creative escape from her 9-5, jewellery fabrication and silversmithing as a pure form of creativity led Louise Smit to begin her bespoke and fine jewellery label Louise Jean Jewellery.
With Sustainability as a core value of the business, Louise's commitment to social and environmental responsibility keeps her pieces hand crafted to the highest quality within Australia, all gems ethically sourced and a continued passion to work closely with suppliers and manufacturers.
Q1: Hi Louise, welcome to the Woman Of Series! Can you tell us what it is you create?
Thank you, it's a pleasure! We create precious heirlooms in the form of fine jewellery, specialising in bespoke engagement rings and wedding bands.
Q2: Can you share with us a bit about your jewellery making journey so far and where it all began?
Louise Jean has quite a humble beginning. I started Louise Jean in 2014 whilst working full-time as a freelance fashion photographer. In between client work, I taught myself jewellery fabrication, silversmithing, and basic stone setting techniques. For me, this was a creative escape and opportunity to learn something new without the pressure of monetising it. I didn’t have a long-term plan or vision at this point. I simply wanted to create.
Over time, my skills and style organically grew, and thankfully, so did my online presence. The first engagement ring I made was for my sister-in-law. Creating such a sentimental piece for someone special in my life gave me the confidence to push my brand in the direction of bridal jewellery, and this has been the most significant influence for our growth.
Q3: How do you want someone to feel when they wear your pieces?
Truthfully, this a feeling that is hard to put into words. I imagine this would be truly unique to the wearer, a symbol of their love and commitment to the one closest to them. Wearing precious jewellery is such a magical experience, something they can cherish now and pass on as a future heirloom.
Q4: How do you source and select the materials used in your pieces?
Traceability and responsibility are integral when sourcing the materials for our pieces. The strong relationship we have with our trusted network suppliers has taken many years to form. It's certainly been a journey, but our commitment to social and environmental practices has always been a priority behind the pieces we create.
Our precious metals supplier is an Australian family-owned and operated business, which alloy all of their metals in-house primarily from post-consumer and recycled gold. This process guarantees the quality of product and traceability of the supply chain.
All of the gems we purchase originate from trusted, ethical sources. Prior to travel restrictions, I would travel interstate and internationally to personally meet with suppliers at diamond and gemstone trade shows. Building these relationships has undoubtedly been a journey and something we take very seriously. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to develop lasting relations with passionate, leading trade suppliers that are aligned with our brand values.
Q5: What has been the single most crucial tool or strategy you've used to grow your creative business?
This is a tricky question to answer because, for me, there wasn't a single tool.
Trusting in my vision and valuing my time. It is important to know that there will always be difficult periods in business, and there have been times where I have wanted to quit myself. Endure these tough times and use these as opportunities to learn.
Q6: You believe that jewellery is inherently the opposite of fast fashion. Can you speak to sustainability in the fashion industry and how Louise Jean approach this?
Sustainability in business is a fast-growing movement, so it is important to have discernment when it comes to making choices on how you spend your money. There is more to sustainability than clever marketing to get a quick sale.
Fine jewellery is inherently the opposite of fast fashion, as it’s one of the few products that is created with the future in mind.
Sadly, this industry has devalued intentionally crafted jewellery to replace seasonal ‘trendy’ designs that are often thrown out after a few years. I am proud that the vast majority of our pieces are made to order, crafted from high quality, durable materials.
Transparency and progress are very important to me and how we operate, and we are on a never-ending journey to learn, progress, and be better. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.
Q7: You choose not to wholesale your product to stockists, what influenced this decision?
There were a few reasons behind this decision. Communicating directly with our customers ensured we could offer a personalised and memorable experience for every one of our clients. Eliminating stockists has also allowed us to maintain the high level of quality of our pieces and meant we didn't need to add additional profit margins.
Q8: How important is your connection with the Australian community and local creatives?
This connection is incredibly important to me. We are blessed with an incredible breadth of talent within the Australian community. I believe we all have something unique to offer, and the more we support and empower one another, the more room there is to grow.
Q9: We're all about women inspiring women. Who inspires you?
Women who with are their authentic selves; those with integrity in both personal and business life. Women who support others, honour themselves exude confidence.
Q10: What advice would you impart on the next generation of women, and women in business?
Focus on your strengths, be authentic and stop comparing yourself to others.
Have confidence in your abilities, I wish I had the confidence in the early days that I have now. A confidant woman shines from within, so recognise your progress and success. You don’t need others to highlight this for you.
Surround yourself with those who believe in you and lift you up.
And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help!