There are few things Angelenos appreciate more than one of their own creating beautiful works of art from sustainable, eco-friendly materials, in their backyard, while deriving artistic inspiration from the city itself. Luckily for all of us, Sophie Monet Okulick does that and more. A mother, wife, daughter, sister, and designer, Okulick founded Sophie Monet Jewelry.
The brand oozes L.A. vibes and beauty with handcrafted pieces made from wood right here in Venice Beach – some reworked from her dad's studio. Okulick's collection is a reflection of a life spent around wood and the man who sculpted it when she was a child. Her dad, John Okulick, is a sculptor whose art is as mesmerizing as it is unique and whose studio nurtured his daughter's artistic vision in its infancy.
An affinity for wood's infinite design options and a desire to be mindful of sustainability in fashion led Okulick to create her first collection. The line has grown along with Okulick's workmanship since then. Each season brings with it new colors, precious stones, metals, and more opportunities for Okulick to derive inspiration from the rich landscape of L.A. Garnering attention for both its unique interplay of mid-century references and earth inspirations, Sophie Monet's designs are bold yet balanced and feature unique shapes and color combinations while still remaining authentic to the material itself. Her pieces have been featured on models and in magazines like Elle, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, and Vogue, to name a few.
We caught up with Okulick to learn more about her inspiration, role models, and more as part of our weekly '10 Questions' series where we explore L.A. through the eyes of its coolest, most empowered, most innovative, or forward-thinking citizens.
What's your background and what was your inspiration for starting Sophie Monet Jewelry?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, right by the beach, and have always loved being close to the water, and just nature in general. Both of my parents are entrepreneurs, so at a young age, I knew I wanted to have my own business. I live and work in Venice Beach, which is where all of my pieces are handmade. I share my woodshop and studio with both my dad and sister, so it's a really special and unique space that I couldn't be more fortunate to create in and to work every day alongside family. Venice has become the heart of our family's creativity, the "office" acting as our second home, our favorite event venue, an extension of our respective living rooms, and an all-around gathering place for friends and family. It's as much a home as anywhere else.
Who were your role models growing up and who are they today?
I've had many role models that I've learned from over the years that still inspire me. Growing up, my parents were defiantly my role models – both being very creative, entrepreneurial, and opinionated. As I've grown my own business, I've met so many strong women who have grown their business while staying true to their design aesthetic – whether they were shop owners, designers, or photographers. I try to learn from the people who I trust the most, my friends, and people I've met along the way.
Do you listen to music or podcasts while working out on your own? If either, what are your jams or channels currently?
I'll listen to KCRW while I'm in the woodshop working. The wifi isn't that great in there and ever since I was a kid my dad would listen to oldies on our old school industrial radio that's withstood the test of time, so it's kind of become the soundtrack of the woodshop. I also love to have soothing music on while I'm working. Classic jazz and blues make me feel so good and cozy and allow me to really tune things out to just create.
Other than running the business, what does your ideal day look like from waking up to falling asleep?
I no longer have to set an alarm in the morning because I have a baby boy to wake me. So in the morning, we eat breakfast together and have a good long cuddle session in bed first. I like to work out in the morning because it really boosts my energy for work. After I put Theo down for a nap, I'll go for a run in the neighborhood. Then I'll eat a little something, either an egg or avocado toast, and make a big salad that I can have for lunch later. I love to make my own dressing to take with me, too.
I head to the studio around 10 a.m. and spend my time between the woodshop (downstairs) and office (upstairs), designing, researching, woodworking, and running the ins and outs of my business. I'm home around 4 p.m. and Theo and I will hang out on a big blanket underneath our avocado tree in the backyard. We'll play until dinner, and then bedtime.
We like to cook dinner every night and my husband JP loves to barbeque. I especially love the sunsets this time of year and I just love spending evenings with a glass of red wine, watching the sky turn orange from our kitchen window.
What does your jewelry or your brand mean to you?
My jewelry is a synthesis of my life. The wood represents Los Angeles and what I was surrounded by growing up, whether it be the palm trees that line the streets of Santa Monica, to the woodshop where I spent my childhood watching my dad at work. I sculpt the materials that surround me, bringing natural elements into different contexts.
What about Sophie Monet are you most excited about in the next year or so?
I'm excited to launch new designs, expand into new categories, travel again, and find my new rhythm.
You're sitting down with your 20-year-old and 80-year-old selves. What are those conversations like?
I'd tell my younger self to be patient and to be kind to myself. I'd tell my older self to celebrate the small wins and enjoy youth. Every moment and phase just moves so quickly and is so fleeting.
Walk us through how you derive your inspiration for your pieces?
There are so many places where I derive inspiration for my jewelry. Because I've always loved vintage clothing and accessories, going on a good treasure hunt in a thrift store or at a flea market has always been a center point of inspiration. I like discovering new color combinations and shapes in settings other than jewelry – architecture, interiors, sculpture – that I can then take and translate into a beautiful, wearable piece of art.
You're taking a first-time visitor on a one-day tour of L.A. Where are some of your top stops?
I'd spend the morning at a flea market treasure hunting – Rose Bowl would be the quintessential experience. Since I love the beach, I'm definitely taking them to Malibu for a beach day, and then a local Venice favorite Felix for an Italian dinner.
Which trends are you happy to see fade away and which are you happy to see more of?
Happy to see crop tops and designer logos fade, and coveting the return of vintage everything.