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Three Artisans Collaborate to Form Navona Handmade

By , August 13, 2019

Name: Julia, Beth, & Christine
Occupation: Owners & Artisans
Company: Navona Handmade

Navona Handmade is a collective of three art school friends who decided to use their artistic abilities to create a company that sells handmade items. Every year Christine, Bethany, and Julia take trips to new and inspiring places, and each collection’s design is based on the experience of that vacation. This inspiration leads to a gorgeous collection of fiber work, pottery, and jewelry.

LAUREN: How did Navona Handmade get it’s start?
CHRISTINE: There are three of us. I’m a jeweler, my friend Julia is a fiber artist, and Beth is a potter. We met as college freshman at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. In 2015, Julia asked us if we wanted to run a business together. The idea was that if we all shared the work of social media, of running the website, of photographing, that it would be easier to run a business together. Since we all work in different mediums, we set out to find a way to make a common thread between our work, and what we settled on in the end is going on vacation together. The vacation is the source of inspiration for our work. We go on two trips a year [and afterwards] we sit down together, look at pictures we took, and we start designing work based on our vacation.

L: What is the biggest challenge you encountered while starting your business and how did you overcome it?
C: In the beginning we weren’t sure how to meet on a regular basis. Everyone that’s in Navona Handmade has a full-time day job. We’re running this business as a passion project at night and on the weekends. Over time, we settled on having a weekly phone call where we look at Google documents, upload our sketches, and talk about the same things without having to be in the same place. So much of what we’re working on over the year must be scheduled. We write blog posts, we do photo shoots – many of those things must be planned ahead of time.

L: What sets you apart from other retailers?
C: I think the fact that we’re an artist collective that’s actively working together is so unusual. We create work that’s both collaborative and cohesive, and it’s based on travel – I’ve never seen anyone do anything similar to that.

L: Tell me about the process of making your products.
C: Everything that I make starts in my sketchbook. I have to lay out full plans for the scale of things, for the wearability, and for textures. I make my actual work using CAD, which stands for computer-aided design. It’s a process where you’re drawing and sketching in three dimensions on the computer screen. The jewelry that I make is 3-D printed, and it comes off the printer in a wax material. Then you can go into this wax and carve it, add textures, and make it a little bit more unique. Then I take that wax and I cast it in metal. Most of the pieces I’ve made for Navona are cast in sterling silver, and sometimes they have gemstones that are set into them. For the collection that we are working on currently, we are planning on making mostly one-of-a kind pieces.

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