Jean Raynell Bello is known for her competency in the Chemical Engineering industry in the Philippines. But after she reconnected with her childhood hobby, it leads her to a new beginning with her jewelry business.
Jean Raynell Bello, the owner & creator of Lifeward Jewelry Design, shared her business journey with Faces of ASEAN SMEs team. Here is her story.
Jean Raynell Bello, the owner & creator of Lifeward Jewelry Design, is known for her competency in the Chemical Engineering industry in the Philippines. But after she reconnected with her childhood hobby, it leads her to a new beginning with her jewelry business.
Posted by Faces Behind ASEAN SMEs on Thursday, July 16, 2020
F: What was your life before having Lifeward Jewelry Design?
J: I was teaching Chemical Engineering at a local technical institute before I started Lifeward Jewelry Design. I’d wake up very early every day to avoid rush hour traffic in notoriously gridlocked Manila and come home with little time and energy for myself due to the tiring work and commute. I also had to bring my work home and it consumed my nights and weekends which made my outlook on life bleak.
F: What made you leave your job and start your own business?
J: I left my job because despite having a master’s degree and being an internationally published author, the pay was just not enough and the work was just too much. No appropriate opportunities were available for me at the time, so I decided to take a sabbatical and spend some of my savings on childhood hobbies I wished to reconnect with.
F: What motivates you to start opening your own business?
J: After making several pieces of jewelry, a few people had asked me if I was open to selling them as they were genuinely interested. After showing some of my finished work to close friends and family, I received inspiring feedback which made me want to turn it into something bigger. I realized I want to make myself known. I then began conceptualizing how to keep doing what I loved ever since I was a child and hopefully earn money from it. It’s passion turned business!
F: What got you interested in the handcrafted jewelry business?
J: I had always been interested in beads and jewelry and I can trace this back to the beading adventures with my grandmother when I was still a child. She took me to the largest beading store in the Philippines at that time. As a child, the place had become a Disneyland for me. I marveled at the infinite possibilities of beading and jewelry. I became crazily curious at the designs and at how pieces of jewelry were crafted. Eventually, it became a routine for me to scrutinize and mentally deconstruct jewelry pieces. As an adult, I have learned to appreciate the artistry, the complexity, and also, I find it very therapeutic to create.
F: Where do you get your inspiration when designing jewelry?
J: I mostly get my inspiration from people who sport and wear accessories. Their jewelry tells a lot about themselves. I study how they match it with their outfits, how they wear it, and sometimes I try to feel how they feel about it. Most importantly, I get my inspiration from nature – it is a world of living jewelry. I always find a way to integrate science and nature into my designs as it keeps one grounded and more connected to the Earth. Every element in the art pieces comes from nature – the design, the stones, and the materials that make it up.
As taste is always tied to one’s history, my nature inspiration goes all the way back to my childhood. I grew up with a lot of pets and they were my best friends at home. Pets have always been with me and I know I cannot live the same without one, or preferably a few. Another great force of inspiration is my mother who herself is an artist. She has traveled the world to do art and continues to live her life through art. We have the same instincts, loves, and tastes when it comes to art and she continues to inspire and motivate me with her wisdom and her journey.
F: How does your business impact your community?
J: I consider my customers and the immediate people around me as my community. When my customers say they are very happy with the artwork, I feel great and further motivated. It is my hope to bring them a small thing of power they can look at and always feel connected to nature and life. That is why my business is named “Lifeward”; my pieces are a source of beauty, that nudges one gently towards the goodness of life.
F: What are your long-term business goals?
J: It is my great hope to expand my business into the different tiers of jewelry-making and turn it into a brand that speaks authenticity. I want to infuse key elements close to my heart in all my works, be well-known and very much in-demand within Asia, and hopefully the rest of the world. I also wish to diversify into other fields that I am passionate about such as biomedical engineering research and animal care.
F: Do you have any advocacies that you want to support for/currently supporting?
J: Aside from patronizing originality, creativity, and craftsmanship, I hope to support and contribute to the emerging local jewelry market. I feel that it would be a great feeling to be part of the community and have the support of like-minded peers. Helping this industry grow would be a noble cause in my opinion because it promotes our culture of creativity and creates dignified jobs at the same time.
F: What legacy do you want to leave behind?
J: The best thing I could hope to achieve is the increased and positive recognition of Philippine artistry. I want this to happen internationally, but also locally. I want Filipinos to also love their own creations. The integration of small artisan crafts into local fashion and lifestyle would be wonderful and I hope to see more of everyone happy to wear and show their storied heritage. In that regard, I want to become a dignified and respected representative in and of the Philippine’s jewelry sector.
F: What is your advice to those who also want to start their own business?
J: Start small and do not rush things, as you will learn what you will need along the way. For starters, always keep it simple, take time to narrow your options down, and concentrate on them one at a time. We are all dreaming of something big; we all have a vision – use them as motivation and take one step at a time.
F: What is the greatest learning that you gained from your business?
J: The lesson for me is that it takes great patience and resilience. One has to be ready to plant the seeds, weather the storms, harvest the results, and allow fallow time to rest. Stay ambitious despite any challenges and always keep your passions burning. It’s your business and you have complete freedom. Do what you want to do, and do it well.