Jane White likes sparkly things. And so do we! You’ve probably seen some of Jane’s stunning rhinestone creations shared on our @laducashoes Instagram channel. Her company, Crystalled by Jane, handcrafts truly magical bejeweled designs on everything from purses, tumblers, and makeup brushes to (you guessed it) LaDuca shoes. We got the chance to interview this UK-based artistic entrepreneur about her one-of-a-kind business.
How did you get into crystalling?
I got into this business by accident in that it grew out of a hobby. Many years ago, a friend (with a very generous husband) had been gifted a pair of strassed (rhinestoned) Louboutins. They were the first shoes of the kind to hit the market and I had never seen anything so mesmerizing. There was no way I could afford a similar pair for myself so I looked them over and over and thought, I could do that. So, I had a go! My attempt was pretty rubbish, but I received enough positive comments to have another go, and another, and so forth. Eventually, friends were asking me to make things for them and their families, and one day I got a call out of the blue from a stranger inquiring about bridal shoes. She had heard of me through word-of-mouth, and that was the “push’ I needed to turn professional and see if I could make a small business out of strassing.
What you do is definitely an art! Tell us about the process.
It’s partly an art and partly a science. Over the years I have gained so much experience in how to treat different materials, which glue to use, how best to apply it and so forth. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t make mistakes along the way (including one memorable instance when the paint/glue combo I used didn’t work and over a couple of months the glue melted the paint underneath the crystals and the whole lot sludged off. Luckily, I had a VERY understanding client!).
As for design, sometimes my clients know exactly what they want and then it’s my job to translate it into crystals and bring their vision to life. Just as often, though, they’ll ask what I suggest, in which case I’ll ask questions about the shoes/garment/item – where it’s to be worn, with what, their favorite colors, etc. and pull ideas together. I love collaborative design. It’s very satisfying sourcing just the right colored crystal or designing the perfect motif. If the client isn’t happy, I’m not happy.
And yes, it takes time. A lot of time. I watch a LOT of box sets! Anything made by hand takes time and I am a perfectionist. It has to be right or it doesn’t leave my workshop. My work can’t compete with mass-produced crystal items, but what I do offer is infinite flexibility over the design process. My customers know that and come to me for unique, one-off items.
Do you use a particular type of crystal or adhesive glue?
No, I don’t. I am open-minded and will select the best tools for the job. There are a number of very good crystal manufacturers available across a range of price points, so I am able to offer my clients a choice. My preference is to work with Swarovski – they are, in my opinion, the best in the world. I never, ever tire of opening a new packet of Swarovski crystals, marveling at their fire and sparkle, and I consider myself fortunate to have a job where I can do this daily. As for my choice of adhesive, the material of the item dictates the adhesive I use. No one wants those crystals falling off!
What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?
Favorite projects? Gosh, that’s hard. It’s rare that I complete a project that I don’t love. Working on the Spice Girls tour last year was a career highlight – I had custom LaDucas and Swarovski and the Spice Girls – what’s not to like?! I was under huge time pressure to deliver but seeing the girls perform on stage in “my” shoes was amazing. I felt so proud. Other favorites include a replica Dolly Parton guitar and a rather fabulous fully crystal-embellished ball gown bodice I completed recently. I’m also proud of the boots I’ve embellished for the UK casts of SIX The Musical. They’re also LaDuca boots which I love because they’re such high quality and a joy to work with.
If a dancer wants to get their LaDucas crystalled, how can they get in contact with you?
I would love to hear from dancers! The best place to see up-to-the-minute projects is via my Instagram page @CrystalledbyJane, or my website crystalledbyjane.co.uk . Direct inquiries can be made via social media or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.