Can you tell us where you’re from and what you do in Shanghai?
I come from Mauritius, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean. I’m the founder of OKRA, a handmade jewelry label inspired by nature.
Where does the name Okra come from?
Okra is a well-known vegetable grown in tropical climates. Commonly known as “Lady Finger”, Okra is nutritious and healthy. Sliced, it reminds me of a star fruit, it's such a beautiful vegetable.
In Mauritius, Okra was on our dinner table at least once a week. It’s my mother’s favorite vegetable. She ate her okras with so much passion and gratitude, telling us how beneficial it is for our precious bodies and how beautiful of a vegetable it is. So I chose Okra as the name of my brand to honor my mother and the many treasures she taught me throughout my childhood... And mostly to remind myself of where I come from and to never let go of my inner child, because that’s where my creativity lies.
You’ve mentioned in the past that jewelry is connected to emotions. What kind of emotion do you try to evoke with Okra?
The process of each collection is a personal and spiritual journey because everything I create is linked to an experience I had in the past. Places I visited, people I met and the way they made me feel. So I associate my collections to phases of my life and to my state of mind. In my studio I have collected meaningful objects/moments that marked a milestone in my life.
Is jewelry design something you’ve always wanted to do? Or did you fall into it?
I kind of fell into it. I always loved creating from scratch and expressing myself. I always felt the need to make something with my hands. My jewelry is small pieces of my art installation.
I found wire very handy to use since its flexible and can create any shapes I dream of. With wire everything is possible.
How do you maintain a sense of balance while living in a fast paced city like Shanghai?
It is more imperative than ever that I take pit stops. To get away from the race from time to time, to catch a breath, to refuel. So I like to get away, sometimes alone to rethink. *self-love*
Sometimes putting my phone on airplane mode is a must, I often do digital detoxes. When I do so, I feel like time has stopped and I can focus on my new jewelry piece.
Creating a sanctuary for myself in the city is also very important, especially in a city like Shanghai. In this case it would be my studio on Julu lu, in the Former French Concession. It’s a precious place for me to refuel and bring treasures to. It’s a place to welcome people and to sit on the rooftop on sunny days.
My good friends in Shanghai also keep me sane. We love to drink tea! It gives me a break to immerse myself in their lives, they inspire me a lot.
Yoga and meditation help too!
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs of small businesses who sometimes feel like giving up?
Start for the passion and not for the money. Whenever you feel like giving up, remember why you started and that it’s supposed to be fun! And always listen to your heart.
Like the quote “go in search of life and not in search of love, and the love you seek will find you”
If you would like to reach Julie to learn more about OKRA please contact her.
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