Though this post is loooong overdue, I’m still super excited to be featuring artist, Leslie Day, of EssieDay jewelry. I first met Leslie down the street from my house at the Village Ballroom. We would run into each other at various kids’ events (she also works as a nanny) there. Then one Sunday when I was browsing the Portland Flea, I saw her selling her jewelry. I didn’t realize she was also a crazy-talented jewelry artist! I immediately fell in love with her work and ended up taking one of her rings home with me. I wore her ring nearly everyday and knew I had to ask if I could do a feature of her on my blog. I love how streamlined and simple her pieces are, yet really unique at the same time. I wear her stuff nearly everyday. Everything she makes is so easy to wear, which is really important to me—especially as a mom. I can wear her pieces with a t-shirt and jeans and feel a little more put together, as well as with a little black dress on a date night.
In these pictures, I’m wearing her beautiful, simple stick studs I custom ordered from her, brass x ring stacker, a singular brass band I also custom ordered, the x cuff two way bracelet, and a gorgeous Chrysoprase natural stone necklace. Keep reading for more pictures of these pieces and my interview with Leslie and her growing business…
How did you get into making jewelry?
I love working with my hands. My dad had a shop and he let me use all his tools and supplies. So it started with wood work. I would always be making all sorts of things in his shop.
My mom is a really good gardener and always paid close attention to detail and design, inside and outside her home. She definitely has influenced the intention and thoughtfulness I put into my designs now.
I’ve been making jewelry since I was 7. I liked the idea that I could create something myself and not have to pay for it.
I liked the problem solving piece of it all, I’ve always either started with a design idea and then I have to work out making the seams hidden. Or I would start with a unique approach to using a material or a tool. A good example is texturing, maybe I figure out hammering a nail on it’s side makes a great texture. I then am inspired to start from that point and have to figure out a design that is best fitting for that surface appearance. It’s fun; I love discovering new methods and using unconventional methods.
What inspires you and your designs?
The natural world. I grew up in Portland and love the outdoors. Architecture inspires me as well. The shapes and space of all the different kinds of architecture paired with natural formations. I like the look of straight lines contrasting organic forms, which I think you can pick up on in my work.
I am inspired by blending the function part of the jewelry in with the beauty. I like it to be seamless—no interruption to the aesthetics.
How do you describe your jewelry when people ask about it?
Really simple, with a mix of architectural and organic shapes.
What’s the story behind the name of your business?
It’s my name. My name is Leslie Day; Essie is a nickname.
What other businesses do you like to support?
Places where I feel like the money is staying in Portland. I tend to go to local old Portland established businesses. I’m really influenced by customer service too, honestly. Winks, the hardware store is awesome. I really like Ritual Adornments for stones. They have the best selection of natural stones. Also Eds house of Gems is a really fun place, not refined at all but it can be a really fun treasure hunt.
Do you have any future plans for your business that you can share?
Getting more inventory is a priority right now. I recently went to the gem and mineral show in Tuscan and was able to pick up so many amazing pieces to work with. I am working on the “business” part of everything, which is hard for me. I like creating not so much marketing and re-creating.
Thank you so much, Leslie! It was such a pleasure to interview you and show off your stunning jewelry!
To purchase any of Leslie’s jewelry visit her Etsy shop or, if you’re a local, find her at the Portland Flea every third Sunday of the month. To see recent updates and new pieces she’s working on check out her lovely Instagram feed too!
All photos by my friend, Alyssa, of Alyssa Elliott Photography.