GEM TALK WITH JULIA FLIT, JEWELLERY PHOTOGRAPHER & GEM KREATIVES CO-FOUNDER
The series of interviews with women and men who have personalities, story to tell and their own GEM style. They make it happen for themselves all over the world and follow GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla.
Julia Flit is one capable individual: a photographer, an artist, and an entrepreneur all combined in one. Lucky for me, she is also GEMOLOGUE’s work husband!
Introduced to the realm of photography at the tender age of 21, Julia has since become a successful jewellery photographer who has worked with dozens of jewellery brands including CHANEL and Faberge as well as shooting for Harper’s Bazaar and other notable jewellery publication. With an artistic approach to photography, she has an unusual eye for all things different and unexpected. Julia is the one to blame for my show-stopping pearl-adorned face at London Fashion Week (how to do pearl face)! Last year, Julia was one of 200 fashion photographers in the world selected for a photography course under the helm of Nick Knight.
She is also a co-founder of a creative agency specializing solely in jewellery designers GEM Kreatives.
Whatever is the challenge, Julia is always up for it.
Name: Julia Flit
Alma Mater: Regent’s University London (BA – Business and Economics), Oxford Brookes University (MA – Travel and Tourism Management)
Occupation: Photographer, Co-Founder at Gem Kreatives
Hometown: Ust-Kamenogorsk (yeah, I know! Only a few of my friends can actually remember the name and even fewer get the pronunciation right.) It’s a small, northeast town in Kazakhstan.
LOCATION AT TIME OF INTERVIEW: London, my hometown for the past 14 years. After so many years, I’m still wondering what I’m doing here! I always imagined myself living in a warmer, sunnier climate, but, for some reason, here I am in London Town. It is, of course, a wonderful city, a cultural mashup where you can meet incredibly interesting people every day. There are so many beautiful places to visit here, and so many tantalizing restaurants to try that sometimes I just don’t know where to begin. I love the Soho House restaurants for their quality and atmosphere, especially that Venetian delight known as Cecconi’s. Japanese cuisine is another of my favourites, and I have a secret place where I go that I can’t reveal. But I will share with you my second favourite, and that’s Yashin in High Street Kensington. London is also an amazing place for art and artists. New art galleries pop up like mushrooms after the rain! My all-time favourites are the Tate Modern, V&A, and the Saatchi Gallery – all quite contemporary, and always inspiring. If it is peace I’m after, I love going for a walk with my dog in Kensington Gardens. It’s so restorative and all my worries simply melt away.
IN THE BEGINNING: As a child, I lived in a dream world. I could spend hours drawing something, or reading my favourite fantasy stories. Then around the age of 12, my dad introduced me to the realm of photography, and my world shifted on its axis a little bit. My love for photography still springs from that very moment. After I graduated high school, my parents sent me to London to study economics (much to my dismay). It’s here that my venture into the big and scary world begins.
After completing my MA, I opened a Russian deli in the heart of Knightsbridge, called The Merchant’s Yard on Beauchamp Place – my first and the most difficult baby! Back in 2010, it was the hottest Russian spot in London, and attracted an elite Russian crowd – many of whom are still my friends to this day. It was an adventurous move, and my expectations were enormous. I was young and full of confidence, but lacked experience. I made a few mistakes along the way, but in no time, I had a firm grasp of the catering business. Two years into it, my beautiful daughter arrived, and I was faced with the daunting task of looking after two babies. Guess which one I ditched?
SHOP THE LOOK:
LONDON DEBUT: After closing my business, my creative mind was restless and full of ingenious ideas. So I turned my attention to my first love – photography. I took out my dusted Canon Mark II and started shooting pretty much everything, sometimes underpaid, most of the times unpaid, but it wasn’t important. I was very enthusiastic about every shoot, every opportunity to work with different talents. I was growing personally and professionally.
In my first two years, I collaborated with Chanel, Fabergé, Harper’s Bazaar, as well as many others. I travelled the world experiencing the most precious and valuable diamonds money could buy. It was during this time that my very good friend and I were approached by several jewellery brands in need of a facelift. After working on a few successful projects, it was clear what we had to do next. We incorporated our business and opened up a creative agency for jewellery designers, called GEM Kreatives.
GEM KREATIVES: I run a creative boutique and we focus solely on clients from the jewellery industry. We work closely with jewellery designers to help them achieve their goals and develop their brands. Every GEM Kreatives client is part of the family. One of our recent clients, Dalia Daou, has just won Best New Jewellery Designer at UK Jewellery Awards 2016 and has been selected for the Rock Vault 2016. Another one, Zevar, is selling in British Museum, with Gem Kreatives work for them being featured on the British Museum.
Making a difference for my clients is very important to me. Before doing anything, I sit down with the designer to learn their business philosophy and creative impetus. I help them to create a brand identity – something most designers never give much thought. Recently, my team introduced a retainer program that contains a few very affordable options. I know how hard it is to launch a brand. GEM Kreatives main goal is to help small and medium jewellery designers to access the pool of creative professionals and advisors that can help them to establish their businesses.
NICK KNIGHT MASTERED: Last year was a very exciting time for me, full of creativity and a little bit of madness. I was one of 200 fashion photographers in the world selected for a photography course with Nick Knight. Not only their hand-picked experts are some of the biggest names in the industry, but I was able to connect with the new breed of fashion professionals from all over the world. It was a tremendous rollercoaster and it helped me to go beyond my limits, and I am not scared of digging deep. I’ve experimented with new techniques and it’s had an innovative affect on my work. I was sad to see the course come to an end, but I’m hoping to repeat the experience in the future. I feel more inspired than I ever thought possible!
FLITEMOTIONS.COM My other passion is kids! As both a mother and a photographer, I have been lucky enough to capture unique and treasured moments in my daughter’s childhood and know well how precious and fleeting these moments can be. I wanted to create a lasting impression, a precious memento of our family photos, because these moments should be treasured, always. What started out to be fun photo projects with my favourite subject, my princess, soon grew into something I wanted to share with other moms and dads. My unique twist is that I mix photography with illustration. I can make your child a superhero of his own story book or turn your daughter into a flower fairy for a massive wall print. Who doesn’t want to become a part of the fairytale?
FUTURE PLANS: As far as personal goals go…everybody keeps asking me about my photography exhibition. I think only now I’m mentally ready for it. There’s always that fear of not being accepted or not being liked that haunts most creatives like me. But of course, these jitters never stopped me before
TOPSHOP OR CHANEL: Neither. I love quality fabrics and can appreciate detailing and a fine cut of clothing, but I see no reason for paying triple the price just for a designer brand name. That’s not to say that I don’t splurge sometimes. I have some pieces from TOPSHOP and H&M and a few from big brands like CHANEL, but my daily clothes come from COS, Philip Lim, MAJE and Sandro. I love Max Mara trousers. They are very comfortable and fit me perfectly. Dresses from The Reformation take me from day to night, and look equally chic and informal. I like that they use recycled fabrics, and their designs are always very girly and sexy. For coats, my favourites are from Barbara Bui. And of course, like all Russians, I love fur. (Stella, forgive me!) I have many designs in all different colours, and can wear them anytime, anywhere.
My latest addition and one of my favourite necklaces – a string of plexiglass pineapples – from TOPSHOP.
ONLINE SHOPPING: Yes, slowly getting into it. It’s a bit tricky getting the exact sizing right, but I like how easy it is to choose one piece from a few different options. It saves a lot of time and energy, because I hate shopping! I use MATCHESFASHION and Outnet.
GEM STYLE: As terrible as it sounds, I have no distinct style when it comes to jewellery, as all my pieces are so very different from each other. I love huge golden hoops and vintage bijou, classic diamond earrings and minimalistic rings. Most of my jewellery was a gift from someone dear, so they’ll always remind me of that person or an event marking significant changes in my life. These memories are valuable, and I keep each piece tucked away in a safe, just like in a museum, and take them out very rarely.
Recently, I start mixing fashion jewellery and fine jewellery together, but surely I didn’t start the trend. I discovered an amazing costume jewellery designer Michelle Lowe-Holder via GEMOLOGUE. She creates stunning pieces using fabric, leather and wood. Every piece of jewellery I saw there has it’s own personality, most of them are really ‘happy’ and ‘smiley’ ones.
I must say I like jewellery pieces that make me happy and they are usually colourful and interesting in shapes. For example in Van Cleef and Arpels latest collection I was mesmerised by kites, which are the epitomes of light movement in the sky. They are accompanied by clouds, thus giving the impression of flying amongst raindrops… Very romantic and playful at the same time.
What I wear depends on my mood. I don’t feel naked without my jewellery, on the contrary. Most of the time, I can’t wait to take it off! I spend every day looking at jewellery through the lens of my camera. That’s enough to satisfy me. Though there is one piece that has made a lasting impression on me and that’s a butterfly ring from Glenn Spiro that moves its wings when you bend your finger. It is crafted from feather-light titanium set with diamonds and coloured gemstones. I love their jewellery as most of the pieces are innovative and have eclectic design.
FIRST JEWELLERY: My first significant piece of jewellery was given to me when I was 14. It was a tiny diamond, white gold rhombus. Very minimalistic. My parents bought it for me during our first trip to Thailand. I couldn’t believe that I finally owned a real diamond. I remember being told that diamonds can scratch glass, so I tested it out on a glass table in the hotel room! I love diamonds!
My mother is very lucky to have the diamond as her birthstone. I’m not as lucky. So I don’t bother with the stone meanings. The value of a certain piece, for me, comes from the memory and the occasion when I received it.
MY EVERYDAY JEWELLERY: Pink gold bracelet with a diamond cross from Meira T, and a 0.5 carat bespoke ring that wraps around my finger with fishing line. Both are very delicate and understated, so I can add anything on top.
PERFECT ENGAGEMENT RING: I pity my future husband because I am slightly obsessed with blue diamonds that happen to be very rare and expensive! So, being realistic I would love a cushion or heart-shaped diamond of 2-3 carats in a unique setting – just like the one from the Bogh-Art collection. It’s an amazing ring – a heart-shaped diamond set into a heart-shaped ruby. Perfection!
ROLEX OR CARTIER: I’ve never owned an expensive watch and had no desire for one until I tried on a Ballon Bleu de Cartier in Switzerland.
MEN JEWELLERY: It all depends on the man! But definitely no earrings or gold chains!
FINE JEWELLERY: Craftsmanship, quality of stones and uniqueness define fine jewellery for me. As a jewellery photographer, I’ve seen the best of the best, and can really appreciate the amount of time and love invested into each one of them. Each creation has a soul.
JEWELLERY AS AN INVESTMENT: With the exception of fine jewellery from the finest jewellery houses, I doubt whether you’d ever get the same price for your jewellery as you paid for it. As an investment, I see jewellery more as an artefact that gets passed down through the generations.
VINTAGE JEWELLERY: In general, I don’t like secondhand things, whether it’s clothes, cars, or jewellery. But sometimes I come across some very exceptional pieces that can’t be reproduced nowadays.
FASHION JEWELLERY: Sometimes I wear fashion jewellery to complement my outfit. I love Tatty Devine’s big red lobster necklace. It’s funky and very contemporary. Sometimes I’ll bring back jewellery from my travels, but usually they end up in the cupboard!
PERFECT GETAWAY: Loved my recent trip to Tulum, Mexico (read GEMOLOGUE Tulum Guide). It was the perfect medley of amazing food, great beaches, a very relaxing atmosphere, and Mexican mettle. For summer vacations, Ibiza, Mykonos and Saint-Tropez are a lot of fun. For skiing trips, one of my favourites is Verbier. But most importantly, what makes a perfect getaway is not the destination but your travel companion!
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT: My phone to stay connected online, and credit cards to buy plane tickets in case of an emergency.
POWER COMES FROM: The Universe. I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can come together. If you really, really want something, it will be given to you.
COACHELLA OR BURNING MAN: Neither. I hate crowds!
MY WEAPON OF CHOICE: I’m a woman! What other weapon do you need?
WILD WISH: To buy or rent a house somewhere in Bali or Tulum (where it’s always warm and sunny), along with my beautiful daughter and adorable dog, and a suitcase full of clothes. We’d live there till we got bored of it. (As if!)
GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla features exquisite global discoveries, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews – a celebration of fine jewellery, fashion jewellery and vintage jewellery.
*Photographed by Flit Photography. Styling and Art Direction by Liza Urla
All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of GEMOLOGUE Ltd.