Local Vendor Highlight: Penelope’s Den | Custom Bridal Jewelry
From experimental jewelry making to crafting precious bridal accessories, Joli Bogdan, has redefined custom jewelry! Joli, is the owner of Penelope’s Den, which proudly serves local brides! Penelope’s Den offers unique custom jewelry creations for any occasion, and this local vendor is absolutely eloquent and inspiring. We spoke with Joli to get the inside scoop on her business and what she has to offer for lovely brides-to-be!
What lead you to beginning your work with jewelry? How has your background in this particular field evolved over time?
I opened a craft gallery several years ago, and decided to use an antique piece of furniture that belonged to my husband’s grandfather. It was an old wooden work bench, and it was the perfect height and size for a check-out register. He, coincidentally, was a jeweler, and that was his old bench. I had never made jewelry before, and the focus of the gallery was textiles, and local artists. But over the course of the first year, I somehow found myself standing at that bench, experimenting with jewelry making. I have a running joke with my husband about how his grandfather’s ghost made me start making jewelry!
When did you first realize that you wanted to create your own business?
I had always thought about this, and in art school [Moore College of Art & Design] there was a big emphasis on building a design business, but I didn’t really have the motivation to do it until after my son was born, and I found myself looking for a way to earn an income without having to be away from him for long periods of time. For me, owning my own business is the best way to achieve this balance.
Take us through the process of creating custom jewelry? Where do you grab your inspiration? What is your design process—choosing materials, and design development?
I really love throwing myself into a project, and getting a real sense of the person that I’m working with, so the piece becomes a manifestation of their desires. I do my best to pull the design elements, colors, and forms out of their imagination, and translate it into a wearable work of art. Doing the research and getting to know someone through a project is the best part of what I do!
What influences you the most when constructing new pieces?
My favorite process for new designs is attempting to capture the intersection between nature and tradition. So I’ll see a plant or some tree bark, or the side of a rock, and I’ll want to capture some element of it. What about it made me feel a certain way? The color? The pattern? The scale? Then, I’ll go home and research art or perhaps historical artifacts in a museum collection somewhere, to see what others have done with a similar concept. It starts out very broad, but I focus in more and more as the process evolves. I never know where a concept will take me, and I love that!
I am profoundly influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement and the Pre-Raphaelites, both in terms of aesthetics and design philosophy. I love the visual style of that period, and I also like the workshop oriented practice model that really aims to integrate design into everyday life. I’m currently working on a line of William Morris inspired fabrics for apparel and soft furnishings.
What has been the best feedback that you’ve received from a customer?
I designed a set of sheer silk curtains with a pattern of branches, for a painter, who is also a neighbor, and who became a friend through the process of us working together. At some point after the installation, she sends me a text message with an image of the curtains, moving in the wind, with a caption about the evening breeze blowing through her living room. [I knew the exact] light and airy quality she wanted when we started the project, and when I received that text, I knew she was sitting there, experiencing that feeling which only comes from actualizing a creative vision. There is really no greater compliment for an artist than achieving the creative actualization on behalf of someone Else’s vision.
How does your jewelry business tie into the wedding industry?
I offer a unique service for brides and bridal parties. Most wedding industry jewelry focuses on the ring, and rightfully so. My own engagement ring was made by the grandfather mentioned above, and it is my most treasured piece of jewelry. But there is so much more to bridal jewelry than the ring! The necklaces and bracelets you wear are really a part of the dress, and a testament to the significance of the entire event, so they are customized and created with the amount of care that such an occasion demands.
I’m an October baby, so I’m lucky enough to have opal as my birthstone. One year I found an amazing collection of boulder opals, and decided to weave an opal collar for myself, using a technique of woven gold wire, and four of these amazing opal cabochons. It’s really the piece that is closest to my heart, in terms of all the pieces that I made.
Are you working on any new special projects? Give us the pretty details!
I’m working on two exciting projects right now.
One is an exclusive line for a large national retail shop. I’m developing a Philadelphia inspired line of tree of life jewelry for them.
The other is bridal jewelry for a wedding this fall. I’m working on a choker with a back lace, because it’s an open back dress. This is the first time I’ve done a back lace, so it’s very exciting for me. It’s such a seductive and feminine piece of jewelry.
Are you a Philadelphia native? What do you love most about Philly?
I am originally from Eastern Europe, but my family moved here when I was ten. I went to grade school, high school, and college here, so, yeah – I am definitely a native! For grad school, I moved to London, and then to California afterwards. I decided to return to Philly with my family because – having traveled as much as I did throughout my 20s and 30s – I see Philly as one of the most vibrant, welcoming, and diverse cities on this planet. I literally cannot think of anywhere else that I’d rather be.
What are your plans for the coming future?
I’m working on a super secret book project, in conjunction with a design app. It is a big project that will likely take a few years to launch, but it is using completely new technology, and it is going to be awesome! I’ll be happy to tell you more about it in the future 😉