Designer interview

Meet the accountant turned designer: OLEIA

Meet the accountant turned designer: OLEIA

A background in accounting isn’t exactly a straight pathway to jewellery design, but this is the career trajectory Olena Stasula took. Starting OLEIA Jewelry in 2019, the second generation Ukrainian-American designer was born and raised in Chicago, where she worked “at a consulting firm, doing tax consulting, for five or six years”.

So what drove her to leave her corporate job and embark on the jewellery adventure?

“I was looking for a hobby to supplement my time outside of work and a few people recommended a metalsmithing studio. And that’s where I started, by taking classes. I had no idea what the process was around making jewellery. But I quickly fell in love with it.

“I’ve always loved fine jewellery and wanted to know how to make it. I started making pieces for myself and family members. And that was successful, so I thought, why not pivot and do what I really love, which is making jewellery.”

While Olena started making jewellery as a hobby, she went all in when the pandemic hit, “and I love it, it’s a challenge but it’s a lot of fun and I’m lucky I get to do it every day”.

Taking her training seriously, Olena “sought out workshops and specialist classes and I try to spend a week every year to expand my education in metalsmithing…

“I try to be a well-rounded designer, and still practice those skills and bring them into my work.”

OLEIA Jewelry hasn’t been around very long, but some of Olena’s designs have already been very successful. “The first successful piece, that was executed well and was sort of a hit once I put it on my website, was the diamond Eye necklace. It’s still really popular, it’s very special to me, because it was the first real piece that I made.”

With her latest collection, Olena sees a clear evolution. Describing OLEIA Jewelry as minimalistic, trendless and modular, Olena was inspired by Bauhaus for the Kvadrat Collection.

“My new collection is centred around the idea of minimalism. For me that means being intentional with the design, being intentional and exceptional with the execution.

“What really inspired me with this collection are the principles of the Bauhaus movement. Clean lines, geometry, balanced proportions…

“The square [Kvadrat] is a unifying form for me as a designer and I fell in love with it. I designed this collection to be non-gendered.”

With a minimalistic approach to her brand, Olena has a very curated approach to design.

I don’t want to create hundreds of different variations of a piece. I try to create a curated selection of pieces and slowly build on that.

Seeing jewellery as timeless, durability is also an important topic for the jewellery designer, who mainly works in 14 carat gold, as it’s both durable and affordable. “My brand and my designs are for anyone who appreciates beautiful objects and the handmade aspect of jewellery. It’s for somebody who’s minimalistic in their approach to buying jewellery, clothing, furniture… it’s an investment. I design things that are made to last a lifetime and more.”

Because of her minimalistic and curated approach to design, Olena sees her jewellery brand evolving into a “buildable brand. You can go with one piece, or you can go with three pieces. And the three pieces can then create your own ring combination.”

A one-woman brand, OLEIA Jewelry is an extension of Olena’s passions and values.

She says she is “a perfectionist. I love having control over every aspect. I’m able to do everything from the photography to 3D CAD designing” and one day she hopes to have a shop in Chicago where she can show her customers her process. “If I was ever to have a store front, I would want to bring transparency to the process of jewellery making, so having my bench out there and working on pieces… I think people want to see that.”

The jewellery maker can’t do everything and works “with a team of casters, lapidary artists… to get to the level of execution that I want my pieces to be at, I definitely have to work with other people”. But she’s determined to “touch every aspect of the jewellery production process”, and it shows in the quality of her pieces, made to last a “lifetime and beyond”.


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