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Woman of Style: Joyce Makitalo
Joyce Makitalo is an artist in every way. She designs jewelry that looks like no other, peppered with her distinct, unique style and a point of view so clear you just know it’s her work. Her personal style is always spot on and mood-based; she can pull off every trend imaginable: from sporty, to princess, to boho, to preppy…even Stepford Wife! Take a look at how she styles the Hanover Petit and Bayswater and see what we mean.
Music is an integral part of her soul, even though she prefers to play (guitar) in private; her encyclopedic knowledge of genres and obscure bands are impressive. Joyce even makes meal prep a work of art via her lovely tea sets and exotic silverware, serving only the most delicious vegetarian fare. Her home is an eclectic mix of furniture and accessories from a well-traveled family, full of interesting textures and color made even more alive with soft background music from her current favorite band. Creativity clearly runs in her blood and is magnified not just in her work but in every aspect of her life. We were lucky enough to get to know the quirky designer for a moment and we’re so glad the stars aligned for this! Read on and find interesting tidbits about her, the J. Makitalo brand and business advice from an unlikely source that can only come from Joyce’s signature matte red lips. Enjoy!
How did you get into jewelry design? What started accessories / jewelry designing for you?
I was mainly a painter before I started designing jewelry. I just fancied to join a fine jewelry design competition in 2008 and I won in the non-traditional category, to my surprise. This opened doors for me, I was able to work with the extremely talented plateros of Bulacan. At first, I did it as a hobby but my husband Petteri saw how it had potential as it continued to grow.
How long have you been a designer?
I have been a painter and graphic designer since the late 90s, so more or less twenty years? I made my first jewelry piece in 2002 after taking a short course on jewelry making.
Most memorable piece you’ve ever made and why?
Wow, so hard to answer. Every time I design a new collection, I try to make it the most memorable. But I guess it’s really the engagement ring I made for a friend. We even exchanged ideas about the proposal. I felt a lot of pressure – I was going to be part of their story and I wanted to give my best. And I feel I did.
Dream customer to design for?
I’d like to be part of Man Repeller’s (Leandra Medine) whimsical layers – the girl don’t care, and this attitude makes her so charming.
How do you come up with designs? Do you have a process?
It used to be a simple process but it morphed into a more complex albeit smarter and more foolproof one that considers both the creative and business aspects.
What is the most difficult part of business building and why is it worth it?
The hardest part was the beginning, because I had no clue how things would turn out. It’s worth it because it gives joy to people, and the business now sustains families. I am feeling a sort of fulfillment at this point.
Best business advice you’ve received and from whom? And why?
JUST DO IT. From Nike.
As a creative, how do you handle the business side?
I didn’t really care much about the business side during the early years, I was just used to making art and selling only when I wanted to, so I carried this behavior when I was starting out with the jewelry. Also, the kids took a lot of my time and I didn’t want to put any sort of pressure on myself that could compromise my role as mom. But after some years, the business started to have a life of its own. It fascinates me how it did.
How do you maintain work-life balance since you have your own time? Is it difficult to juggle designing and home management?
It took a few years to balance things. Family is my priority, so for many years I was just taking my time. But the kids have grown and they now demand lesser time, so I find more time to work, which is like play. I love my job.
Top three favorite accessories designer?
I almost have none. Maybe Alber Elbaz during his time at Lanvin.
Top three travel destinations and why?
Helsinki, because it is second home and is full of cool art, has crystal tap water, majestic lakes and magical Northern lights. Rome, because it’s an insane visual feast, it’s extremely rich culturally and the food is crazy amazing. Istanbul and Prague tied at third because they are both so beautiful and full of surprises.
What would you be doing if you didn’t become a designer?
I would definitely be a geologist who tours the world for new discoveries and gigs with my own band. This question just made me rethink my priorities in life.
What do you consider your greatest achievement so far? In your professional life? Personal life?
Some days, I feel I have already achieved a lot and then the next day I feel so far from my goals. I want to keep making pieces that bring joy. Whether it’s through painting or making jewelry or whatever - it HAS to bring delight. And I don’t mean a little delight, I mean high-voltage delight, haha – this, while expressing myself at the same time.
Advice to those who’d like to venture into the accessories business? What’s the one thing you wish you knew beforehand?
If the pieces you dream of wearing have not been created yet, make them. I wish I knew beforehand that this job would be so much fun – I would’ve started earlier. But destiny has its own schedule.
What does the future hold for J. Makitalo jewelry?
SURPRISES! I look forward to surprising me. But I’m the type to do things slowly but surely. I learn more that way.
INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS Anne Bella Arguelles