Hometown Heroes: Designer And Jeweler Jen Moulton
Say hello to one of Austin’s finest, and our latest Hometown Hero, Jen Moulton. She’s a jewelry designer and founder of Moulton Studio, where she creates wear-everyday pieces that you’ll keep forever. We visited her and talked everything from business-building tips to the best brand of matcha, plus advice for staying inspired (warning: it may make you want to take a solo vacation ASAP).
Tell us about yourself! It seems like you have a lot of creative interests—how did you end up where you are now?
I loved art growing up and experimented in lots of mediums. I spent countless hours with my mom and grandmother learning
and taking classes whenever I could. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I saw people making a living
with their art. I was working for a nonprofit across the country from family and friends and feeling creatively drained,
so I started making jewelry in my spare time and opened an Etsy shop. I’ll never forget that first sale from a stranger—it
was the best feeling and I was hooked.
I’m a fourth-generation entrepreneur and I always deeply admired my grandmother. She had an incredible jewelry collection—filled with family heirlooms and pieces she picked up during her travels. I loved trying all of it on and hearing her stories about each one. I didn’t know it then, but those stories changed the way I see the world.
What’s a typical day like for you?
My day typically starts around 6:30-7am. I wake up, snuggle my dogs, exercise (I’m loving LEKfit right now), make a hearty breakfast and a matcha tea, then head to my backyard studio. I focus on creative projects first when I’m sharpest—like a brand-new design or a custom order, for example. I’ll work until lunch and either head inside to eat with my pups, Charlie and Reese, or catch up with a friend. After I head back to my studio and take on less demanding tasks like catching up on my emails. I try to stop working by 6:30pm, have dinner and hang out with my husband.
Any exciting projects coming up?
Right now, I’m working on launching an heirloom collection for Moulton. After lots of years experimenting and learning, I’m in a place where I can confidently offer custom services. So there’s been lots of fun stuff going on behind the scenes in addition to the day-to-day work: building a new site, designing and prototyping the new collection, designing packaging, photographing, etc.
Got any essentials you always keep on-hand in the studio?
Yes! I always have iced tea and Topo Chico around (I’m that person that orders four drinks at brunch). I usually listen to podcasts or audiobooks but I turn on Haim and Maggie Rogers when in a GSD mood. My favorite podcast app is Stitcher. I took a photography class last year so I could photograph my work and I love my Fuji XT-2 and 35mm lens (53mm equiv.). My favorite photo editing apps on my phone are Lightroom, VSCO, and Color Story. I recently read We Were the Lucky Ones, which broke my heart (in a good way). My favorite matcha is by Aiya.
What do you do when you need a dose of inspiration?
Travel, try new things and make myself uncomfortable. When I can combine all three then I’m really inspired! For instance,
I just got back from a two-week, 200-person workshop where I knew no one and I’m attending a silent meditation retreat
in August. Occasionally removing myself from the day-to-day is vital to maintain perspective and stay creatively
energized. I call them my “solo sojourns.”
For daily maintenance I change up my routine: eat well, take walks, pet my dogs, take classes, invest a lot of energy into taking care of myself (right now: hypnosis, therapy, exercise, myofascial release), and really try to find that ever elusive work/life balance.
Do you have any advice for people out there looking to turn their passion into a business?
My two best pieces of advice are to put yourself into your work and do events. Customers are really buying a piece of
you and your story. Think about framing what you’re selling as what it says about your customer. My customers buy
from me because I create heirlooms and heirlooms are a big part of my personal story. When a client orders a mantra
cuff or we work together on a wedding band they’re making a statement that they care about commissioning a thoughtful
piece that is so well made it will last.
Events were gamechangers for me—pop-ups, local markets and brand collaborations are great ways to get your work out there. Plus, being face-to-face with customers is the best form of market research. You can watch behavior, listen for common feedback and customers will even give you ideas of what they can’t find in the market! Events also gave me the confidence to talk about my work (which is so hard to do in the beginning). The best takeaway for me has been that selling is really about connection.
You mentioned one of your bestsellers is a mantra cuff—do you have a personal motto or word that you try to live
I’ve been working with the word surrender this year. For me, surrender is a willingness to embrace myself and my life as I am. To cease fighting, improving, striving, fixing one more thing, looking outwards, proving, etc. I’m learning that so many of my efforts are an attempt to outrun my perceived weaknesses/failures and “fix” myself. It’s a really gradual process that I come in and out of but I keep going deeper and that’s what matters. (If this piques your interest check out Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach.)
Thanks for the chat, Jen. Shop Moulton jewelry and more from Hometown Heroes right here.
P.S. Come hang and shop with Jen at the Hometown Heroes Market in our new (!) Austin store. It’s going down on 8/4 from 1-4pm— see you there.