She works 1.5 days a week as an academic advisor at Baruch College, where she obtained her degree, but for the better part of the last two years, she’s been a full-time metal smith of jewelry.
DeJoseph had started a scholarship fund in memory of a friend who died from leukemia, but she decided that instead of asking people to make donations, she would put the skills she had learned in her recreational metal smith classes to the test and make something to sell. The necklace she designed was inspired by the koru fern, a symbol of peace and rebirth in New Zealand.
The response was overwhelming; she was soon swamped with custom orders. Suddenly, what had started out as a hobby had the potential to become a viable business.
“You start off as an artist and you’re just excited that people are buying your stuff. You can’t even believe that they want to pay money to have something that you made,” said DeJoseph. Craving a break from the 9-to-5 world, she made the leap to full-time and started working out of a makeshift studio in her Astoria apartment.
The busiest time of year in this business, as one can imagine, is around the holidays. DeJoseph said she literally rolls out of bed, sits down at her workbench and hammers away until midnight.
“It starts to become very meditative for me. Once you’re in the zone, you lose track of time, you’ll lose track of everything going on around you and you’re just making whatever it is. I just like that my days can be filled up by something that I really enjoy,” she said.
Her mom will sometimes ask if she worked that day, referring to her part-time job at Baruch. DeJoseph said it took her parents a long time to be able to say that their daughter makes jewelry, but their skepticism is a common reaction from others who are unfamiliar with what she does.
“Sometimes what gets to me is when people think I’m just stringing beads onto a piece of thread,” she said.
In addition to hammering the pieces out of metal, her responsibilities are endless, including managing her blog and Website, finding models for her work, making travel arrangements for craft shows and working on marketing her business.
DeJoseph genuinely loves what she does, but she admitted that it’s never been her goal to do it long-term. She plans on working as a metal smith as long as it’s still fun for her.
“I went to school because I really wanted this public affairs degree because I really wanted to work in a field where I can help people, work for the non-profit sector because social justice is really important to me,” she said. “I feel like I’ve kind of gotten away from that because I’m not doing that, I’m making jewelry and jewelry doesn’t save the world.”
But ever the optimist, she’s doing what she can right now to support organizations that serve women, a cause that’s always meant a lot to her. She has sold pieces with the proceeds benefiting women’s organizations like Dress For Success, which provides professional attire to underprivileged women, and Girls Write Now, which encourages high school girls to express themselves through writing.
The tag line of DeJoseph’s company, Queens Metal, is ‘Bold Jewelry For Fearless Women.’ And on that note, over the next few months, she will start rolling out a new collection of pieces named after inspirational women she wants to recognize. She plans on setting up a regular rotating list of organizations that will receive proceeds from her sales of those pieces.
Some of the pieces, like the chunky shield-shaped rings and the two-horned Love/Hate ring, are aggressive to the point where they can almost be used in self-defense as a weapon. She likened them to a pair of boots she used to call her ‘ass-kicking boots,’ which made her feel like she could take on the world when she wore them.
“I wanted jewelry that sort of had that functionality, that subconscious when you put it on and you feel like you’re sort of wearing armor or a shield,” said DeJoseph. “What I’m working on with this new line is making women feel strong and proud and good about themselves.”
For more information about DeJoseph’s work, visit www.queensmetal.com.