Being a communications major, I’ve learned to understand that the “medium is the message.” In other words, the particular form of the medium of communication you use influences how a particular message is perceived. Recently, campus-renowned Fashionista, Julia Hirsch, has taught me that this quip little saying is applicable to fashion; more specifically, she’s uncovered the idea that one’s jewelry can be used to tell a story. Her line of bracelets and necklaces, called Shanti & Deva, began shortly after studying abroad in Nepal during her junior year. For over four months, she resided with a Hindu-Nepali family; soon, she found herself inspired by the livelihoods of both the people she was living with and the things she came across during her daily routine, including shopkeepers and their goods, and even children playing in the streets. Julia has always been a hands-on individual who loves to express herself through wearable pieces of art, and sought to seize the opportunity to use her creative skills to create a window into Tibetan culture through means of ethnic jewelry.
Name: Julia Hirsch
Role: Young entrepreneur, creator of Shanti & Deva Handmade Ethnic Jewelry
CollegeFashionista: What makes Shanti & Deva so unique?
Julia Hirsch: Definitely the social impact that Shanti & Deva delivers. We lend 10 percent of our profits to social projects that we choose with care and conscience. Currently, Shanti & Deva is focusing on empowering low-income women throughout Southeast Asia who aspire to launch and expand their own businesses, but do not have access to traditional banking services.
CF: What has the experience been like as a young, college-based entrepreneur in the fashion industry?
JH: It’s been extremely challenging but also extremely invigorating. It’s the source of my energy and drive; my procrastination is all Shanti & Deva related! Balancing school work with this side business and searching for potential jobs for next year can get overwhelming, but I’ve reached out to BC’s social entrepreneurship club and have received a great deal of help with workload.
CF: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring fashion designers in a college setting?
JH: I’d say to strive to see the interconnectedness in what a piece of clothing or jewelry can represent. It doesn’t just have to be a material accessory; it can be a window into something greater than what it appears to be. I think that’s how people can bring added value into their products and consequently their lives.
CF: What’s a favorite jewelry piece that you’ve designed?
JH: Oh, that’s so difficult, I get so attached to everything I make! If I had to pick, I’d say the reversible elephant-om necklace with red agate stone and Nepali rudraksha seed—I love it.
Learn More: Check out what awesome pieces Julia is whipping up over at shantianddeva.com!