Today we’d like to introduce you to Joni Seto.
Joni, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always been drawn to art — whether it was film, photography, painting, or anything that provided a creative outlet. However, growing up as the youngest child in a first-generation Chinese family, art was not viewed as a priority. My parents came to the US with nothing, starting from the ground up, wanting nothing but success for their four children through a typical professional route.
My passion for the arts led me to oil painting where I met a professor who encouraged me to follow my dreams. At the age of 20, when feather earrings were widely popular, I went to a fashion store with high hopes for a successful purchase. Unfortunately, due to high sensitivity and allergic reactions to base metals I couldn’t wear anything fun or cute because the only type of jewelry I could wear was solid gold or silver, which was a luxury in my family. I decided to make the feather earrings myself.
Creating jewelry came naturally to me, and it was so fun to do! Next thing I knew, I started making Sterling Silver jewelry and wire wrapping crystals for my family, friends, and myself. Seven years later, I started our jewelry company, The Alchemist & The Artist®, with my partner Thomas LaBue.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
In the business world, there is no such thing as a smooth road, and if there is one, we would like to know! The company started at a time when there was a recession in the jewelry industry. Jewelry stores were closing down at a high rate, and when I told people I was starting a jewelry company, they laughed and thought I was out of my mind. My parents were against it too, hoping it was just a phase/hobby, and that I would eventually give up and get a “normal” 9-5 job. After a few years and trying different approaches, we found our niche in designing custom fine jewelry. We’ve been able to adapt and innovate while not losing ourselves in the process.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about The Alchemist & The Artist – what should we know?
The Alchemist & The Artist® is a fine jewelry company. We specialize in custom designs and small batches because to me, mass-producing the same pieces means not being able to provide the same quality and uniqueness to each piece. We love bringing our clients’ ideas to life and creative problem-solving is our favorite thing to do, especially with diamonds and gemstones! We design and handcraft unique fine jewelry with the idea that it will last for generations. We’re proud to have a reputation of being honest and transparent, something that is sadly lacking in this industry. We strive to give clients a one-of-a-kind experience without breaking the bank.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My family deserves a lot of credit, especially my parents. Even though it sounds like they were against me starting the company, they did it out of love because they didn’t want to see me struggle as a “starving artist.” They ultimately want what is best for me, and after sitting down and explaining to them that is indeed my passion and I can’t change who I am — starving or not, my parents accepted me, and that was the biggest form of support any person could ask for.
My oil painting professor, Laurel Paley, is one of the biggest supporters I have. I took her class, not knowing what to expect, just wanting to have fun, and she changed my life by encouraging me to follow my dreams and passion. I am happy to say that to this day, we still keep in contact and update each other on our lives.
My friend and mentor, Careen Friedland, is one of the first advocates to encourage and inspire me to take control of my dreams and turn it into a reality. She motivated me with her own journey, and it made me want to be a successful businesswoman. Her positive attitude is infectious and helped me get to where I am today.
My business partner, and the love of my life, Thomas LaBue, has been my #1 cheerleader and advocate. He is also our gemologist. He sources all of our gemstones and ensures quality for our clients. When I met Tom, he wasn’t a gemologist, but he believed in me so much that he became a certified gemologist and jewelry appraiser. Without Tom, I probably never would have made the steps to become a businesswoman and would have probably just stayed a hobbyist.
I also have an amazing circle of friends who not only believe in me but also trust me with important milestones in their lives by giving me the honor to design their engagement rings and wedding bands.
- Website: www.alchemistandartist.com
- Phone: (619) 894-6721
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/thealchemistandtheartist
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/thealchemistandtheartist