Stella Lucchi Jewelry
Luz Barbosa, Chief Visionary Officer at Stella Lucchi
1. Where are you from and how long have you been designing jewelry? I’m a native New Yorker, I was born in Manhattan and raised in Queens. I come from a first generation immigrant home, both of my parents are from Colombia. My first language at home was Spanish and I’m the youngest child from a blended family of eight siblings. I am a single mother to a 21 year old young man.
As a young girl, I was a bit of a tomboy. My dad was a superintendent and I used to love following him around. I used to love being his helper when he had side jobs, and I had a fascination with my dad’s workshop and his tools. My sister and I would take wire, nuts, pliers and his soldering gun to make jewelry. In Junior High School I took shop class and recall that I loved working with my hands. I had an inclination towards making jewelry since I was young, but somehow I had forgotten about it until recently.
At the end of 2011, after many years of working as a production manager in the non-for-profit sector, I was laid off. At the time unemployment was still very high, jobs were very competitive and because of a lack of a bachelor's degree I was unable to find work in my field. Unfortunately, experience was not enough, therefore, I was confronted with figuring out what to do next. Making jewelry started out as a hobby, as a method of meditation during this difficult time. I would play worship music, pray, ask God for inspiration and then I would just sit there for hours and create. My first piece was a vintage button cuff, which is now one of my staple pieces.
One day, I was at a red light on Queens Blvd and the car next to me was beeping to get my attention. The lady in the car asked me where I got my cuff and I told her I made it. She said the cuff had caught her attention, that she loved it and that I would make a great jewelry designer. I was in awe. I realized that I had a God given talent for designing jewelry and my passion for jewelry design grew. I began making more jewelry and eventually becoming a full-time jewelry designer became my goal, my dream. I opted to focus on growing my skills in jewelry design in order to launch a business and take a day job that wouldn't be too demanding and could afford me the ability to follow my dreams.
My biggest influence is my son Joseph, he has taught me unconditional love. He is my motivation to do and be the best that I can be.
2. Who taught you how to be a jewelry designer and what type of jewelry do you sell? A friend of mine who works at a jewelry design company and also designs jewelry gave me my first set of tools, supplies, and leftover jewelry that she was not using. I began taking free jewelry design classes at the public library while I was unemployed. During this time, I came across a bead supply store in Queens that offered one-on-one jewelry making lessons and took several lessons. I also registered for several continuing education courses at FIT during that time. Recently, I took a wax carving and a soldering course and I am looking to take more courses.
I currently make Fashion Jewelry but I am looking to expand into Fine Jewelry.
3. Is your culture important and does it define your collection? My Colombian culture is very important to me because it keeps me rooted on where my family is from. My culture doesn’t define my jewelry but if definitely influences it. A necklace I made last year for a raffle at an annual Colombian Music festival was inspired by la India Catalina of Cartagena. As I was meditating on what to create for this event - the image of that statue kept popping up in my head. I recall seeing it as a little girl and then again as a teen and thinking how beautiful she looked, la India Catalina looked like a Warrior Princess. I wasn’t familiar with the history of it when I was young, but I drew from my imagination and created that piece. From that one piece I’ve expanded and have added several warrior princess inspired pieces, currently I am building a Warrior Princess collection.
4. How has your dedication to building your very own jewelry line changed your life? My dedication to building my own jewelry line has changed my life because it has given me purpose. I make something out of nothing - I identify myself as a jewelry designer. For me, creating a piece of jewelry is a spiritual experience. It is done with prayer and thoughtfully. I have a vision of what I want my business to look like and where I want it to be, and now I am working towards that goal.
5. What other collections do you have available for weddings, special events, parties? Currently, my bridal work is on demand and made-to-order. I work one-on-one with brides to develop pieces that fit their unique vision and style, to develop a piece that will complete the look for their special day. I also work with brides to create bridal party gifts that are unique to their wedding and will be a keepsake for the bridal party.
6. What is your favorite part about what you do? My favorite part about what I do is definitely using my hands to create something. Often times I have no clue what I’m about to make and then an idea just surfaces and I’m pleasantly surprised with the outcome once the piece is complete. Also, seeing my customers happy fills me with joy.
7. Where can we find you? Where can we buy your jewelry collection?
8. What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be like you? My advice is to follow your dreams! Do what makes you happy! Don’t let age stop you. I was 40 when I decided that I was going to work towards becoming a full-time jewelry designer and that I was not going to stop until I accomplished my dream. It's important to take classes and to learn various techniques. If money is an issue; youtube has tons of free videos and the public library is a wonderful resource.
If you’re lacking inspiration my recommendation is to visit museums, galleries, stores, and much more and in one of those places you will find your inspiration for your next piece, or line, of jewelry. Also, look for a mentor early on.
9. Did you have a mentor to inspire your dream? I actually did not have a mentor to inspire my dreams but I realized that I was lacking that. I realized that without a mentor, I was lacking direction to the right steps towards reaching my goals. Last year I built a simple website, but realized that I needed help with branding and business planning, so I took some online courses. After those courses, I still felt lost, so I went ahead and found a business mentor this year and I am working with her to co-create in the areas which I lack knowledge in. Together my business mentor and I are working on branding my business and a marketing plan, amongst other things.
10. Is there something else you'd like to share with us, that we did not cover? Eventually, I will be providing workshops called "Craft for Healing". I want to offer a safe space for crafting and also offer lessons for various jewelry making techniques. I hope to accomplish this as a means of sharing my experience, by paying it forward and by teaching someone else to do what I do. I hope to offer a place where various people can come and feel safe and relieve stress while crafting and creating something out of nothing.