In late 1997, I walked into a tiny staffing agency to start my first day as the office girl. The first person I met was June. She was a pixie stix in human form, that is, adorable, high energy, and your energy spiked just being around her. Five minutes with June and you find yourself thinking, “Marathon? I could do that in two hours!” With that kind of spark, it shouldn’t be surprising that after leaving recruiting, she did very well for herself in sales. Of course you wanted to buy the time shares she was selling–it meant getting to sit with her for an extra ten minutes! (Ask her how she met her husband some time.)
I lost track of June when she left the agency, then this past January, I was walking out of a Barnes & Noble and I heard my name. Lo and behold. It was June. It was June! Lunch followed–lunches followed–and I could not have been more delighted to reconnect.
What had she been up to, other than getting married and having two adorable boys? Nothing other than having become a lauded jewelry designer, who sold her line to the likes of Fred Segal, Barney’s New York, and did a private line for BCBG. That’s all. That’s all?! And people, this is some of the most beautiful jewelry I’ve ever seen. I am not exaggerating.
I asked her how she went from being June the Recruiter to June of June Bijou designs? Her story was so fantastic, I knew she had to be a speaker at a WWK event. And having said that, I’m not going to tell you the story. You’ll have to come to the event on April 16, or watch the video after. How’s that for a teaser?
June is awesome.
Name: June Graham
Job Title: Entrepreneur / Designer
Industry: Jewelry / Fashion
Who I am – A mom, wife, daughter, friend.
My inspiration comes from the raw materials. I find a stone or bead & I figure out how to make the most of it & let it’s uniqueness come through.
What are my favorite pieces? I have so many – they’re like my kids. I find I don’t wear much jewelry myself because it’s hard to pick one over the other. I kind of feel like if I take one I have to take them all & I can’t so I usually end up with no or very minimal jewelry.
Saying that, I am particularly proud of the pieces that have gotten commercial success for my retail customers like catalogs or larger chain stores. It makes me proud that things I designed are good enough to be put into famous stores & sold.
Being raised in South Africa gave me an appreciation for the freedoms we have here. My mom was raised in a much more segregated time, her experiences did shape my thoughts. She had experienced serious discrimination & that in part changed the person she could have been. I feel like her self esteem suffered because of it. It was something I had to get over for me to gain self esteem for myself.
Where does the positive energy come from? – That’s funny because I always think I need to be more positive.
First hour of my day? Having a one month old & a 2 year old – these days it could be anything. I don’t even know when the first hour begins & when the last hour ends – it’s a never ending loop.
What makes me feel Successful? These days getting a shower, getting to do a little workout, and doing something that might look like work for about an hour makes me feel accomplished – Oh & making sure both kids don’t go hungry especially the little one.
What brings me joy – My kids. Them being happy & healthy is pretty cool.
Women I admire – Those who seem to be able to juggle family & career.
What do I like best about my closet friend – Self deprecating because I do that too.
What do I like best about myself – Hmm., sense of humor. And my kids =)
How do I handle adversity – Cry until I can’t cry anymore, just kidding. I’m a problem solver, so I’ll just think & think on what I need to do to overcome the problem.
What advice would I give to boys about girls – remember that they are someone’s daughter, sister, & if not now, one day probably someone’s mom. Be kind respectful & treat them they way you want someone to treat your sister, daughter or mom.
How would I like to be Remembered – Kind, generous, funny & leaving the place a little better then I found it.