I really enjoy seeing young people who possess the drive and ambition to pursue a challenging goal.
The jewelry industry, like any industry, is competitive with longstanding brands, as well as up-and-comers to face-off.
Yet in 2009, these two sisters, with no formal training in jewelry design, utilized their collective gift for creativity, paired it with an independent spirit and made a go of it.
After graduating from Georgia State University, where they majored in textile design, both sisters felt a stirring disconnect. While Anna worked in "sales for a children's clothing line in Miami," Julie migrated to New York in the hopes of finding a fulfilling career.
"While I lived in New York, I had been bouncing around from job-to-job trying to figure out what makes me happy," says Julie.
"I've done everything from PR to photography. I finally decided that I loved designing my own line and that I could put all of my past work experience into building our brand."
Anna's defining moment came while preparing for a social event. "Although we are not formally trained in jewelry design, we had always made jewelry with our mom just for fun.
Last year, I made a bracelet for myself to wear to an event and all of my friends started asking about it," she says. "Julie and I never thought those times making jewelry with our mom would turn into a business."
The duo called upon their background in textile design to create their signature Pop Cuffs, composed of entwined, colorful jersey fabric and mesh. "Georgia State University had cut its jewelry design program so we studied textile design," says Julie.
"The course was very focused on traditional Japanese techniques. We took classes in batik, indigo dyes, natural dyes, weaving, screen-printing, and heat transfer. Every part of our design process was done by hand. No computers," she emphasizes.
"Julie and I eventually started using a variation of knitting techniques to create larger pieces like our Pop Cuffs faster but the technique is top secret!" Anna grins.
The duo also creates bold, and unusual cocktail rings fashioned from variations of acrylic, crystals, turquoise beads, epoxy, and metal. There is a playful sophistication to the collection, a funky, youthful vibe.
"We love pieces that are bold, big, different, and outrageous," says Julie. "I think bold pieces and bright colors show we aren't scared to be ourselves."
With their skills fully engaged, now came the time to name their new brand. Their company name, PopKiss Jewelry, is derived from one of Anna's first date experiences. "Julie and I had been trying to think of a name for our line for a few months.
Then one night I went on a first date with this guy. He asked for a kiss and I said `no'. So he asked could he have a `pop kiss', a quick kiss on the lips, and I knew that was the name. He still didn't get a kiss," Anna deadpans.
The sisters continue to evolve, expanding on their design ideas and learning from their experiences.
"We love giving our customers options," says Julie. "We have always loved neon colors and anything that stood out. We just do what we like."
For more on the sisters' limited edition jewelry, be sure to check out their FaceBook page.
Photo 1 (top right): Epoxy and Metal Ball Cluster Ring
Photo 2 (center): Two-Tone Lime Green and Yellow Pop Cuff
Photo 3 (bottom left): Gold and Pavé Turquoise Frog Ring