One of the biggest pleasures of owning a bead shop (besides ordering enormous amounts of beads, crystals and components) is the possibility to meet creative, inspiring people. One of my customers with whom we quickly became friends (and stayed in touch even afterwards I left Slovakia) is Lenka Gondová. She is a successful, sophisticated businesswoman with a soul of an artist. She has a serious affection for beadwork (and in the meanwhile she comes up with original, unique colour combinations), knows how to sew, knit, crochet and weave. She also managed to build a name as a professional wildlife photographer, and took pictures about lions, buffalos, seals, penguins and many more species of animals all over the world.
It’s a great pleasure to introduce her to you.
Please tell us about yourself and your brand a bit!
I have been fascinated by arts, crafts, creating and all the material of different kinds the whole of my life. I have tried almost anything you can think of in the fields of crafts and fine art . My first brand was (and still is) named Dragon and is about sewing. I have been sewing since I was 12. First it was the only way to get original clothing during socialism. Later it developed into a serious business. This way I could make money during my studies at the university. Afterwards I stopped as I saw the wave of cheap Asian clothing coming. I returned to sewing because of Fine Art Quilting, machine embroidery and the fascinating world of modern fabrics and textile materials I see in the past years.
I love other hand crafts as knitting and crochet as well. Also weaving, which seems to be rediscovered these times. I have painted on any surface you can imagine. Just to name a few: glass, silk, textile, wood, ceramics. I am thrilled by learning the process and love to see how different materials and techniques bring different results. Most of my craft experiments were mostly for fun. I have a very limited free time in between exhausting projects in my consultancy business, with short breaks for wildlife photography. (You can check out my pictures at www.LGfoto.sk.)
A couple of years back I discovered the Bead and Button magazine while visiting Florida. Beadwork was love at the first sight! Since that time I have been beading continuously – on the contrary to other creative activities. I love to experiment with the tutorials of other great beaders to explore their techniques and after some years I am now preparing my own beadwork patterns!
How did your story as a designer begin? Do you remember the first piece you sold?
For a long time I did not see myself as a designer. At first I was seeking for the “holy grail”: how could I earn some money by beading, and have money for more beads of course! I went through the highs and lows of the business: I was selling finished jewellery, and after a while I realised that it is very hard work for very little money. I remember the first piece: only two simple Peyote bezelled rivolis as earrings. Oh dear, how proud I was of myself (LOL)!
In the meanwhile I was continuously looking for the possibility to play with my beads and do not to forget about the fun while I am not designing, but doing some of the exhausting associated activities. Then I have met Lada (Ladislava Repkova) – the other “L” in L2Studio. I had the feeling that my whole life headed to that particular moment. She has a great talent in design, and it was wasted in other job until now.
Please tell us how does your average day look like! It’s so exciting to get to know more about the lifestyle of a designer!
L2Studio was established just recently. It is not long enough time yet to experience two identical days. We are working on the products themselves, then experiment with marketing tools and pricing strategies. We also try to find new materials and new possibilities in between. Establishing the company and laying down the basics made the last months pretty hectic. As our ceramic cabochons attract more and more attention, we are working on new designs and new moulds for existing designs, too. We also like to experiment with the colours of glazing and the way we bake the cabs.
What makes your designs stand out of the crowd of other designers? Which are your favourite colours, shapes, materials etc?
Favourite colour and material? LOL – always the most recent one we are playing with! Well, frankly speaking now clay is THE favourite material. It has unique results, which can’t be reproduced from other materials. Everybody is fond of Swarovski crystals or all kinds of wonderful beads (I love them, too, and must have all the new ones!), however, I found that lately I tend to wear simpler, less sparkling jewellery and the ceramics fit better with this style. And as we found our designs were well welcomed, so here we are – launching our limited edition line of Fine Art ceramic cabochons!
For what kind of occasions can we wear your pieces? What’s the woman who wears your design like?
I love to combine vibrant colours with simple designs. So my pieces can brighten some serious business clothes, or delicately supplement evening dresses, too. We women like to dress nice, and if somebody likes my design and feels good about it, she would certainly feel attractive while wearing it. I think any women can wear it, it depends on the mood that goes with that colour or combination of colours. I personally have days that I am looking for bright colours, other days I find myself playing with grey, beige and metal finishes. Also the season of the year plays an important role.
Jewellery combined with Fine Art ceramic cabochons we recently launched is very versatile. The more designers we see using them, the more different results we see and we are amazed. Clay lets you finish the design in so many different ways! We aim for our cabochons to be attractive with an interesting touch. But still, they leave enough space for the designer’s creativity to see the potential result with different eyes.
Where does your inspiration come from? Do you have some rituals to boost your creative energy?
Without wildlife photography I would be already overworked. Nature and wildlife also work best for me regarding inspiration It heals the fatigue caused by the hectic life in a city. Lada is bringing a lot of creative energy as well. The combination of the two different views of the world is mutually working as a source of inspiration.
Do you have a piece you made, that is somehow special to you?
Oh yes! I have your design Passiflora that I made in my colours. I still wear it even if it is a bit too colourful for most of the events I attend. But you know my attitude – when I am supposes to use one colour I use at least four instead!.
If you could design something for a well-known person or maybe a fictional character from a film or book, who would it be, and why?
Oh, this is very specific to whom it would be and to what use. I am a bit of a crazy perfectionist and I would probably do some research about the person and/or the movie to reply.
What kind of clothes and accessories do you wear? Who are your favourite designers and why?
Since most of the time I still work in my consultancy business, I usually wear business style. And actually I can play with it a lot: I can make it colourful, original but still a bit sober. But well, my style depends what environment I am in. I have a very strange combination of clothes: business dresses for consulting and outdoor clothing for wildlife photography. I like a lot of different clothes and accessories, but I rarely have opportunities to wear them. I love the work of many talented artists in different areas of arts or crafts. I love the sophisticated and elaborated work of Sherry Serafini, Sabine Lippert, Erika Sándor (really, not just because we talk), Zsuzsa Veres and many more, also in other fields. but I am always evaluating the whole package a designer offers – for me an amazing product is just a good start, I am also looking at the way how the artist processes his / her skills. I like to see if the brand is working as a meaningful, original and professional business.
What is your goal in the future? Where would you like to see your brand?
Well, of course I wish to see the success of L2Studio. And in the future I would really like to continue with L2Studio in search for the essence of happiness, that is potentially possible to bring in this business -we would like to bring it to our customers, or colleagues, or anybody who would come across our atelier.
Where can we see and buy your designs?
As a freak into business excellence, we are very honoured and happy to work with All Beads Cz. I love them for their constantly excellent service provided to their customers. You can see our recent selection here.
We are also launching our ETSY page for other products (for example beading tutorials, sewing tutorials, woodworking tutorials and some of our finished products as well).
You can also visit our home web page or like us on Facebook. And here you can check out our services offered for artists. Looking forward to meet you!
Thank you for answering my questions, Lenka!
I wish you all the best, and I am looking forward to try my hands with an L2Studio cabochon!