Annie + Jen | Jewelry Designers at Tribe of Dreamers
We’re on our third installment of Watch Her Hustle today and so excited to introduce you to our entrepreneurs for the month. Annie and Jen, both based in L.A. decided to start Tribe of Dreamers after knowing each other for only a few days. A few days?! Can we all be honest and confess that we’ve taken longer to decide on what kind of filter to use on our IG posts? Yeah, I thought so. In any case, these ladies have an incredible story, so let’s get to it.
Poppyseed: Ok, so what is Tribe of Dreamers? And how did you guys meet again? Something about a bar?
Annie: Tribe of Dreamers is a jewelry brand. We partner with nonprofits to create a piece of jewelry that helps tell their story, and helps them raise funds for the mission that they want to accomplish. Jen & I had a little ‘happenstance meeting’ - I was brand new to L.A., and I was meeting a friend at the same bar that Jen was meeting a blind date. The two of us sat down at the same little bar table. My friend got up to grab a drink, her date got up to go to the bathroom and we both started chatting, and realized we both did jewelry, and knew we needed to hang out and chat more. So, we had a coffee date a couple days later, and we both just had the same heart for what we wanted to do. For me, it was the first time that someone that put words to what I’ve been feeling. That moment of, “Oh my gosh, you want to do this too?! This is your dream and you’re passion and mission in life?” And we decided right then and there to start Tribe of Dreamers. We had only known each other a couple of days - which is crazy. So the base of what we wanted to do is “do what you love, to end what you hate.” We want to do what we love to make a difference in the world and impact people globally, and encourage other people to do that, as well.
PS: That slogan! Love the idea of taking your passion to end the injustices in the world. So, how did you guys end up at that bar? Give us some background info.
Annie: Well, I used to be a pastry chef. I had my own wedding cake business back in Atlanta, Georgia. I got to a point where I was doing everything by myself, I was super burned out, and I just wasn’t loving what I was doing. I believe in having a love and a passion for what you do and I just lost that, and kind of plateaued out a bit. I decided to give up my business, and move to L.A., and get into jewelry. I took a little jewelry making class for a couple months in Italy to see if I would like it. When I moved to L.A. I trying to figure out what it was going to look like; I wanted a deeper meaning to it, and I didn’t want to do it alone, and I’m in a city where I only know a handful of people. I didn’t want to move forward with it, unless I had somebody to do it with me. Then I met Jen. Enter Jen…
Jen: TA-DA! (laughs) I actually had a very winding path. I worked in politics for a bit, I was a teacher, I was doing acting, and I was kind of all over the board, but the one thing that was the running thread between everything, was that I wanted to make a difference in the world and I didn’t really know how to do that. And just by chance, I had this feeling that I really wanted to take a jewelry class - just for fun! I was feeling burnt out in acting and wanted an art form that I could control a little bit more. So, I took a class and I ended up loving it! I ended up being the first one in and taking it so seriously, not talking to anyone - totally dominating (laughing), I just wanted to learn everything I could. So then I started doing jewelry instead of acting and i got to the point, like Annie, where I got tired of doing it by myself, and burned out. I was thinking about quitting doing jewelry, and then I met Annie right at that time.
PS: So moral of the story: you never know who you are going to meet on a blind date? Ha! Ok, so now that you guys found each other, what advice would you give to others wanting to get into this career?
Annie: I think whether it’s this career, or any other creative thing, being creative is a little bit of a hard place to be. There are so many unknowns, and so much that is uncomfortable about the process of starting it. Honestly, the biggest piece of advice I can give - is just keep going. Keep putting one little step in front of the other. Especially in the beginning. If you try too much to focus on the huge picture, you're missing all of these little steps along the way, and that makes the big picture seem so much more scary and unattainable. If you just concentrate on all the little steps leading up to it - it’s amazing how attainable it is, and how much easier it is to grasp all of it. Also, I would say - get a partner, if you can. Or someone who can speak into your life, or what you're doing, a sounding board… Both of us know - doing it by yourself, is the worst! (laughs) Okay, it’s not the worst, but it’s a lot harder. To have someone you can do it with… On days when I’m down, Jen’s up, and she’s encouraging, and vice-versa. It’s so great to have someone you can fall on and lean on.
Jen: I would say, especially in the beginning stages, get a small group together of two or three people that you really trust, that you feel really understand your vision of what you are trying to achieve. When you want to share things - share it with them, don’t share it with everyone. Sometimes when you are first starting out - so many friends, and loved ones have good intentions, but all the opposing inputs and advice can be really confusing - especially when you are first starting out. Bounce the ideas off of a couple people that you feel really get you, and stay true to the small voice that’s inside of your heart, of what you feel is right, and what you feel you want to do.
PS: That’s great advice. What is Tribe of Dreamers’ biggest dream for the future?
Jen: One of the things that most excites me for Tribe of Dreamers is that we are part of projectRAIZ, which is a group of artists and artisans that went to Swaziland and Mozambique this summer to help create jobs. One of my biggest dreams is to have Tribe be a part of building a really beautiful artisan center in Mozambique and for that to be the flagship. I would love to have a bunch of artisan centers around the world that are helping to create jobs for rural artists, that wouldn’t otherwise be able to be connected to a global marketplace, but to also have this space be really beautiful and inspiring. To create a place where these artists feel inspired, loved, and taken care of, at the same time that they are making pieces that bring inspiration to other people. It’s kind of a full circle thing.
Annie: I think I would like Tribe to have a lot of branches that spread out. The more you create, the more impact you can have - the more people you can reach. I would love for us to keep branching out, and keep expanding ourselves, and challenging ourselves creatively, as well - and making a bigger impact on the people around us.
PS: Totally. It’s amazing to see both of your hearts shine through. Ok, off the wall questions:
Jen, what is your favorite band these days?
Jen: Lumineers. I listened to them nonstop for two months while I was making 400 necklaces! Now, it’s changing to Jack Johnson, beachy vibes because... I live on a sailboat.
PS: Wow! That feels like another story altogether! Annie, What is your go to ice cream?
Annie: Pistachio. The non-artificial, like the real kind, with chunks of pistachio in it.
Ok, one last one: What’s the ultimate experience you’ve had so far while collaborating with nonprofits, charities, organizations, etc.?
Annie: Mine would be a new project that we started, that Jen mentioned, projectRAIZ. We get to help teach people there, that don’t really have a shot — just teaching them skills, helping them learn something, giving them tools to help them build a business, and to create. We, in Swaziland, have employed six women to help start making some of our pieces. That has been really incredible for us. It’s something that is so simple and easy for us, but it is literally so life-changing for these women. Little things, like now they have money to go buy seeds to plant for food, so they can eat. And also, in the midst of that, trying to raise money for a well for them, too.
Jen: I ditto what Annie says. And then, anything I would add, would be anytime we get a little note from clients who wear our jewelry and they share that it has encouraged them on their journey, or inspired them, or helps remind them to not give up on their own dreams. That really is why we started. That always is one of my favorite things.
PS: So epic. Thank you both so much for taking the time to talk with us! You are both such amazing humans and we are grateful to have gotten to know you. (fist bump)
Inspired by these two? Join the Tribe on Instagram and be apart of something greater.