Seulye Jo ― CLED

by Grace Chung

How has the city of Los Angeles inspired you and your business? What makes it ideal to root your business here?

I was drawn to Los Angeles since I moved here! From the sunny and warm weather to the lifestyle and the diverse cultural influences, there are so many immigrants here with a dream like me.

I studied jewelry design at FIDM in LA and never looked back. Our studio is located in the heart of downtown’s Jewelry District, which is convenient and necessary because we work with small, family-owned casting factories and jewelry manufacturers. We pride ourselves on handcrafting all of our jewelry in-house, from Eco Gems to metals.

How did you come upon choosing your product?

Having my own brand has been a dream since I was a child. My grandmother gave me my first jewelry - a pair of earrings, when I was young and I've always been drawn to small objects like jewelry. It's amazing how small changes in form and color can make an entire design look different. As I got older, and with work experience in the fast fashion industry, I became more environmentally conscious and I knew that if I was going to create a jewelry line, it had to be earth friendly. It was while at a beach clean up I found sea glass and thought that glass could be a good material for jewelry. That's how it all started, and here we are six years later.

How do you hope to connect with your customers through your pieces? What do you hope to convey?

I hope that our upcycling mission resonates with our customers. When people see our jewelry, I wish that they see the value of our designs that shows trash can be treasure. My goal is when someone thinks about upcycled and eco conscious jewelry, their first thought will be CLED.

How did you come up with and decide on the name for your business?

I've always thought of using my name as a brand name, but my name is difficult to pronounce even for Koreans haha. I wanted to make a name that is reminiscent of the earth while being simple and easy for everyone.

While testing recycled glass bottles, it was from a long list of words in a spreadsheet the words recycled and upcycled caught my eye. I looked at each letter and the last part of the word "CLED" sounded nice and simple. I pronounced it several times and thought CLED might be good. I told my partner YJ and she came up with the name Conscious Lifestyle Earth-Friendly Design from the letters. CLED is what we keep in mind when we make decisions related to our design process and the materials used in our pieces.

What’s something surprising about you that no one would expect?

Picking up trash on the street. I call it treasure hunting. I'm always on the lookout for glass so if I see discarded glass on the street, I'll stop and pick it up. I keep gloves and tools in the car because you never know what you’ll find! I think my family and friends would be surprised that I do this haha.

What significant experience in your life led you to start your own business?

My dad’s dream was to be an artist as he loved to draw and paint. But he let that go and sacrificed himself to build a business to support his family. He always encouraged me to do what I like. His strong work ethic and resilience and artistic view gave me the courage to start a business.

And with my background in visual communication design, I was able to create everything, including our logo and packaging design. I am fortunate to be able to use my skills as a tool in this business. My goal is to grow CLED into something bigger, expanding into fashion and lifestyle goods.

What’s a recent discovery about yourself that you learned from your business?

Patience. This is so hard for me as I'm always wanting to see the final result or goal reached right away but it's definitely not like that in a business. It took a lot for me to be patient when I'm testing glass to make new designs as it can take multiple trials and errors to get the final result. And in so many aspects of business, patience is required.

What (scent, taste, jewelry brand/item) resonated with you the most in childhood? How does that influence your work? - What’s your happiest memory from childhood and how does that memory show up in your work?

I grew up with my grandma and so a lot of my memories come from her. She gave me earrings, my first jewelry piece when I was young. My grandma also used to make clothing, and hanbok for herself and I would always see her on the sewing machine. Also, my parents loved to match clothing nicely and care about the details in garments. All these facts may be how I got interested in making things and led to designing a jewelry line. And I've always liked collecting pretty packaging such as gift boxes so my grandma would always give them to me. All these memories influenced me in many ways in my love of creating.

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