Creativity – In the Studio with Gunner and Lux
In this series on The Southern C, readers get to “meet” many of the interesting and creative Southern entrepreneurs we meet online through our social network and also in “real life” at The Southern C Summits. These individuals are the CEO’s, founders, creative directors, artists, designers, makers and doers that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity. Take a peek into their day to day life, find out what they are working on, discover their “a-ha” moment and gain insight into what motivates and inspires their work and lives.
The subjects and their niche may vary but many share the paradoxical traits of creative individuals – they daydream, observe, ask big questions, people watch, seek new experiences, view life as an opportunity for self-expression, take risks and bounce back all while following their true passions. We hope you will be inspired as we spotlight the creativity that abounds in our region. According to Einstein, “Creativity is contagious”, and this is one thing we are happy to spread.
For a people-person like me, I truly enjoy getting to know so many creative and inspiring folks. Each post leaves me inspired and challenged, as I hope it does our readers, too. I am especially excited about this spotlight as it’s the first designer duo I have interviewed and what a duo it is! Believe me, this is no typical partnership – it’s an Atlanta based father/daughter design team rocking the jewelry world with their colorful, whimsical and original pieces called Gunner and Lux and Little Lux. Their line can currently be found in 75+ stores across the globe, including Barneys NY. Here comes the kicker… the co-founder is only five years old… and yes, you read that correctly! In this Q&A with John, see how their brand came to be and and let this adorable pint-size fashionista, Riley, and her biz partner Dad inspire you to go for it…
Describe your brand and how it got started:
I started collecting vintage jewelry for our five-year old daughter Riley when she was born, knowing there would be a time when she would want to play “dress up” while she danced her way to an imaginary costume ball. Since neither of her dads wear jewelry, we searched thrift stores, antique stores, and asked friends and family for jewelry that they didn’t use. Within just a few short months we had collected a treasure chest of amazing jewels.
As our daughter grew, she picked out the jewels she wanted to keep, and I decided to try my hand at crafting a one-of-a-kind adult necklace in early 2013. Riley wanted to watch, and before I knew it, she was helping me create the first Gunner & Lux necklace.
My first necklace was a success, and quickly after my necklaces began selling in local boutiques, along with our Gunner & Lux website. Riley continued to show a knack for making jewelry, so after dinner she and I worked on the necklaces together. Using her fine motor skills, she learned how to tie knots, use pliers, and tweezers as she developed her own line of necklaces for the little fashionistas and that is how Gunner & Lux and LITTLE LUX was born!
Describe your product and process:
With the Gunner & Lux line, I use lots of vintage antique pieces making one-of-a-kind statement necklaces. Collecting. Riley and I go to lots and lots of antiques shops, thrift stores and estate sales to find jewelry that really jumps out at us. I then sketch out different necklace designs using some of the selected vintage pieces, and then let the necklaces take shape organically from there.
LITTLE LUX necklaces was made for kids, using bright bold colors with a nod to old school toys and play things for the little fashionista. Riley really loves the creative process, writing down ideas she has. Most of her ideas come from her days at Zoo Camp this summer, playing outdoors, going to the Aquarium and the many books she reads. She also sketches out her ideas, and we talk about how we could create it and what materials we could use. We then try all kinds of different combinations of materials and colors, until she thinks she has it right. We usually send to a few kids to get their opinions, make any changes and go from there!
Describe a typical day in the studio of a father/daughter design team?
Riley and I pack all the new orders of Gunner & Lux and LITTLE at the end of the day. Riley writes a hand written “Thank you” note for each LITTLE LUX necklace she sells. We gift wrap every purchase and ship 2 day FREE SHIPPING with every necklace as we want our customers to have their necklaces in their hands as soon as possible! After the orders are all filled, we work on our wholesale orders and restocking our website and then if we have any time before bed… we work on new ideas!
Riley and I sit side-by-side talking and laughing. She works so hard, wanting to understand how everything works. Always asking questions and wanting to try new things. She and I work as a great team, me holding the string and her cutting the string, like a well-run factory. We joke that we become like robots. I feel very lucky to be able to work with my daughter, watching her business grow, watching her meet so many amazing creative people who have given her such great advice along the way.
What did you want to be when you grew up and how has your background influenced your work?
I have always been creative, drawing, painting, making things. Having a child has been so special in that I can be a kid again with her. Riley and I are always making things. We always have lots of projects going on at our house. I graduated College with a BFA in art, but wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I decided to curb my art for work, and again having our daughter has let me bring art back into my world.
Any “a-ha” moment that made you take the leap?
The day our daughter was born. I knew I wanted to show her everything artistic and creative the world had to offer.
Favorite biz tool, apps, artists or business books?
INSTAGRAM. It has been nothing but amazing for our business. There really is nothing else like it out there in terms of getting your art out into the world to so many people everywhere.
Where do you find inspiration? Any blogs, magazines or person?
My daughter and how she views the world. Donald Robertson (instagram) and ANY artist who is doing what they love!
The rare day off – what do you do to unwind?
Read a book / see a movie / go to the park
Best business advice you ever received?
Say YES to everything!
Whitney Wise Long, co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit, loves to connect with Southern entrepreneurs and learn more about their creative endeavors.
This series – “In the Studio With” – offers her the perfect opportunity to do so! For more of Whitney’s Southern Creatives Q&A’s click the names below:
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