Army Veteran and Alumna Latoya Boyd Launches Eponymous Jewelry Line
Influenced by her creative grandmother, Latoya Boyd has been creating fashion and jewelry since early childhood. After her service in the Army, she chose FIDM to study Jewelry Design. She graduated in 2017, then attended the Gemological Institute of America. She launched Latoya Boyd Jewelry and credits FIDM with preparing her to step into the industry as a creative and skilled business owner.
Any advice for someone coming from the military considering going to FIDM? The discipline you learned while in service will help you to complete the rigorous schedule you will have at FIDM. In many ways, FIDM was easy for me because of the deadlines, and the amount of time I needed to dedicate to my homework and projects was very similar to some of the pressures I had while I served. Also, call Patricia Martinez, the Assistant Director of Compliance/VA Education Benefits Coordinator—she is the best. And use your GI Bill!
Tell us a little about yourself: The first time I realized I had a passion for creating was in the fifth grade. I used my grandmother’s antique sewing machine to create my first piece of clothing, a bikini top. What I hadn’t anticipated was just how long it would take; I sewed it by hand except for the straps, I stapled those. I can't help but laugh at that now. Even then, I was determined to accomplish the goal, no matter what. I admire that about my younger self. My grandmother’s jewelry box is where my jewelry obsession started. I still have the very piece of jewelry that started it all. Her jewelry box was a mix of fine jewelry, costume jewelry, and fashion jewelry.
Tell us about Latoya Boyd Jewelry and your passion for the industry: At 14 years old, I started buying jewelry supplies with the money I made at my spring/summer job at the local Renaissance Faire. In middle school, I started selling my hand beaded jewelry—bracelets, belly chains, rings, earrings, and necklaces. I deployed to Afghanistan for a year in 2011-2012, and rediscovered my passion for gemology and jewelry. March 2014, I was honorably discharged out of the Army and medically separated due to an injury I incurred while deployed. Shortly after, I drove to Los Angeles, California from Fairbanks, Alaska and started attending FIDM for Jewelry and Metalsmithing Arts in July 2014. By December 2014, I obtained my resale license and started my business. LBJ or Latoya Boyd Jewelry has been a successful thriving business for the past three years through ready-made pieces and custom jewelry design work.
What is one of your best-selling or favorite pieces? Every piece has been my favorite at some point because they are all from me; they all came from my imagination, my heart, and soul. The custom pieces I have created are the most special; they are the pieces that lifted someone else up. Those are my jam.
Why FIDM? I fell in love with FIDM when I was just 12 years old, in the 8th grade. A rep visited my middle school for College Night, and I just felt the vibe from the brochures. I loved the energy of the people I talked to. FIDM just seemed like this elite place where I felt I had the best chance of learning to become a fashion designer. Yes you read that right. I came to FIDM back in 2002-2003! Essentially there was no program for jewelry at the time, and nowhere near as many majors as they offer now. I never even knew I could go to school to become a jeweler. Although I am now a jewelry designer, I haven’t given up on fashion completely. Stay tuned!
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? One of the most important lessons I learned at FIDM was self confidence. I had no idea what a 30-second elevator speech was before FIDM. I also learned the power of networking, not only with your peers but with staff and faculty. FIDM taught me that knowing the rules and honing those skills are more important than just being a "good" designer. I learned how to take constructive criticism, how to be original, creative, how to push myself, how to get really uncomfortable as a designer and really step outside of my comfort zone to become a better designer, and most importantly, FIDM prepared me to step into my industry as a creative and skilled business owner.
What is your biggest goal right now? My biggest personal goal is to complete my 1975 vintage RV renovation to travel across the country. My daughter and I have dreamed of traveling across the country selling our art (she’s also a multi-faceted artist like her mom), learning more about America by visiting national monuments, national parks, museums, live theatre, and most importantly, building our relationship together as mother and daughter. We are looking into getting sponsorship through some of our favorite brands as I am also a brand ambassador for several beauty, travel, and apparel brands on Instagram.
Anything else you’d like to share? Never give up. The journey is everything. I have had times where I really wanted to give up. In fact, one time I put all of my studio equipment on eBay, ready to throw in the towel. The journey is what makes your art what it is. When you fail, it’s a learning moment and it’s ok when people tell you no. In fact, the more I hear no, the more I grow. Giving up is easy; staying the course is the hard part. Celebrate your failures as you would your celebrations and find a mentor—someone who can relate to you and your journey.
Follow Latoya Boyd on Instagram @LatoyaBoydJewelry.