North Texas Daily

Jeweler uplifts women, community through handcrafted designs

Jeweler uplifts women, community through handcrafted designs

Jeweler uplifts women, community through handcrafted designs
April 01
10:30 2022

When it comes to sharing her handmade creations, local jeweler Leah Johnson, 51, said there is one word that comes to mind: joy.

“That word just keeps coming up because it brings me so much joy to see other people love and appreciate my work,” Johnson said. “Most of all, it’s because it can help people feel more beautiful.”

Johnson, founder and designer of LJ Artisan Designs, began her online shop seven years ago after taking up jewelry-making as a personal hobby. Soon after enrolling in classes for metalsmithing, Johnson said she became hooked on the art form and started an Etsy shop to share her items. Now with her own website, Johnson crafts her own handcrafted jewelry designs out of sheet metal, wire and gemstones.

Although mastering her craft was not initially easy, Johnson considers the lessons learned throughout her metalsmithing career to be rewarding learning experiences.

“It’s kind of like life where it’s in the mistakes that you learned the most lessons,” Johnson said. “There’s beauty in that too, I think.”

Leah Johnson pours hot metal into the ring mold to create a ring on March 23, 2022. Photo by Maria Crane

While Johnson originally reproduced multiple designs on a regular basis, she decided to change her entire business model in 2020. During quarantine, she began to create limited batches of one-of-a-kind items that she now releases monthly. Johnson believes these numbered pieces add a special, unique quality to the jewelry her customers receive.

“I think people love getting pieces that no one else has,” Johnson said.

All of Johnson’s pieces are created with the thought of her customers’ confidence in mind. She said the purpose of each collection is to share stand-out designs that help elevate women’s sense of beauty and individuality. Johnson believes by helping women curate their own style, she also helps them feel seen.

“I noticed this phenomenon where I had once had this confidence about my style or my beauty, I was kind of becoming invisible,” Johnson said. “And now as my children are older, and I have aging parents and in-laws. […] I find the same phenomenon that it’s easy to feel invisible. So if my jewelry can help someone feel that beauty again, it is a wonderful thing.”

One customer, Flower Mound resident Lisa Rook, 51, said she frequently receives compliments on Johnson’s pieces that help her feel unique. Rook believes that both Johnson’s creative designs, as well as her positive relationships with her customers, make her creations all the more special to those that support her work.

“I love having that connection and being able to see her in person,” Rook said. “She really listens to her customers, and it’s very evident in the items that she releases.”

In 2016, after extreme floods hit Baton Rouge, La. and caused her sister to lose her home, Johnson realized she could use her designs to benefit broader communities. As a south Louisiana native herself, Johnson created her “NOLA” necklace and later gave the proceeds to another woman who had lost everything in the flood. While Johnson said the funds were not a large amount, it helped the woman get back on her feet and soon kickstarted her idea to tithe all proceeds from future sales.

“I realized, as I delved into learning about the nonprofits in the Denton area, there was plenty to go around,” Johnson said.

Different jewelry surrounds the LJ Artisan Designs studio on March 23, 2022. Photo by Maria Crane

Now, Johnson alternates which local nonprofit she supports each month. The shop has benefitted multiple charities, such as Serve Denton and Camp Sweeney, by donating 10 percent of monthly profits to their causes. Johnson said being able to spread the wealth with each new jewelry collection has helped her realize what impact she and her business can leave within the local area.

“It has opened up this world where I have met some of the most generous and giving people and they’re all here in our community,” Johnson said. “It’s been a joy to meet them and to support them in my small way.”

Aside from connecting with others through charity organizations, Johnson has also formed bonds with her customers through custom commissions. Another customer, Argyle resident Alicia Norwood, 49, worked with Johnson to create custom pieces to raise funds for Argyle ISD’s Project Graduation Lock-In party. Norwood said collaborating with Johnson was a special experience that displays Johnson’s philanthropic heart.

“It was amazing having her donate her time and her design for that piece so that we could provide it to our community,” Norwood said. “I love having that relationship with her. She makes it amazingly easy.”

This April, LJ Artisan Designs will support Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home, a nonprofit that provides residential care and counseling to families and youth in foster care. Johnson said as she continues to create her handcrafted collections, she hopes to keep working closely with others throughout her community to better uplift those within it.

“I love that this business can help the people around me in my community through my donations,” Johnson said. “But most of all, I just love helping women feel beautiful and like they stand out.”

Featured Image: Leah Johnson poses in her studio on March 23, 2022. Photo by Maria Crane

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Samantha Thornfelt

Samantha Thornfelt

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