Jeweler Is Inspired by Her Eichler Home

Joelle a home
Joelle Benvenuto's Eichler has become as colorful as her jewelry thanks to modern decor and art. She says the home inspires her jewelry. Photo by Dave Weinstein.

It wasn’t boredom two-and-a-half years ago that drove Joelle Benvenuto to enter the jewelry business. Nor was it to put food on the table.

Joelle works as director of user experience for Shutterfly, which she describes as “creating experiences for people, mostly working on shopping experiences, home décor.” Her husband Philippe does well too, as director of professional services at AbacusNext.  

Besides working full time. Joelle exercises, and has hobbies, including touring with Philippe, she on a Honda Rebel 2008, he on a Suzuki V-Storm. Philippe also sails. “You know, life is full,” she says.

Joelle has friends who share her interest in fashion and design. Plus, she and Philippe are raising a teenage daughter, one getting just old enough to no longer find it enticing to model her mom’s jewelry for Etsy and Instagram.

  Joelle models
Joelle shows off one of her creations. She and friends enjoy modeling. Courtesy of Joelle Benvenuto

“If I had to give a percentage of the time I'm spending on this right now, it's about 30 percent of my daily life in the jewelry business, because it's picking up,” Joelle says. She calls the business Futurisnow.

Her website states: “The LINEA collection by Joelle Benvenuto is a set of colorful rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets with a modern geometric shape. They are designed to accent your outfits and complement your creative spirits. Earrings are a great way to complete the look.”

So why become a jeweler, Joelle, when it’s something you’ve never done before, and you are selling your wares for prices that seem shockingly affordable?

We’ll get to her answer soon.

Simple geometric shapes and an endless variety of color characterize Joelle's work, which can be customized per the wishes of her clients. Courtesy of Joelle Benvenuto.

Joelle, an Italian who grew up in a modern home in Belgium, is the daughter of an architect. She studied art and communication at the Ecole de Recherche Graphiques, then worked designing educational CD-Roms on such artistic subjects as Victor Horta and Rene Magritte.

The firm had offices in San Francisco and she would visit, sometimes touring Eichler neighborhoods. When a job opened here in 2001 she took it, and Philippe, who’d been working in Belgium for IBM, had no trouble finding work.

They lived in the City's Haight, and in Brisbane, and attended an open house in a small tract of Eichlers, Grandoak, in Redwood City.

The house was poorly staged, Joelle remembers. “They had horrible gardens, and the house was grayish. So not very attractive.” It was raining, and the house was packed.

“We could not really have a feel for it because it was so different than the typical houses that we knew in Europe,” she says. “We actually saw that the doors were easily opened from outside. We kind of opened the door before leaving, and we came back at night. So we trespassed [on] the property.

Joelle and the tools of her trade, which include colored paracord, a lightweight nylon rope originally used for parachutes. Photo by Dave Weinstein

“And in the dark, we sat in the furniture, and we stayed [for a time]. And that day we decided to make an offer to buy it.”

That was 15 years ago, and today the compact mid-1950s Eichler is a modernist delight, filled with bright colors, modern furnishings, and art by Joelle and her friends.

She says the Eichler inspires her work.

“I love straight lines, and Eichlers are all about that, right? I also think, architecturally, the boldness of an Eichler, it's refined, but it's pretty bold.”

“And also what I really like is that Eichlers are always with accent color. All the doors are like, you know, purple or yellow.”

The jewelry didn’t start as an accident, but the jewelry business almost did. She created some jewelry for herself, using paracord, a strong nylon used by parachuters and astronauts, which she reinforces with metal tubing so it holds its shape.

A model shows off one of Joelle's hip creations. Courtesy of Joelle Benvenuto

Joelle had always been an artist, mostly painting. Jewelry? Never. But she’d always loved fashion.

“I always was a fashionista,” she says, “in the sense not for me to dress up, but mostly because I'm in love with beautiful things.”

“I started making necklaces for myself first, and when I was wearing them, I was asked all the time, what is this? Who did that? Where did you buy it?”

“I don't like the metal, silver, or gold, or pearls. So I always was looking for other types of materials, along the line of textiles with metal.”

She loves paracord for the wide variety of colors available, and can even order custom colors. As far as she knows, no other jewelers are using the material.

Joelle sells online, and likes Etsy because most of the business end is covered. But she is quite business-like, creating in her garage studio, taking most of her own product and model photos, and packaging the goods in “sustainable packaging, fully compostable, no plastic inside, no plastic bubble inside.”

Joelle takes the business seriously, enjoys that her work is affordable, and hopes the business grows. But what’s the real reason she got into jewelry?

“The goal is to have fun,” she says. She and her friends get together for photo shoots. “We play dress-up, of course. We bring clothes we style ourselves.”

Joelle would love to do fashion shows in Eichler homes, post photos afterwards on Instagram. Anyone want to take her up on that plan? Bet it would be fun.

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