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Designer Joy Smith in the Communion by Joy showroom and special events space
Culver City, Calif.--About a decade since it started, fine jewelry brand Communion by Joy has opened its first physical retail destination where clients can interact with the jewels and designer Joy Smith in person, but the experience goes far beyond shopping.

Located in Culver City, California, an area of Los Angeles adjacent to Venice Beach, Communion by Joy opened last September as a by-appointment showroom and a special events space.

Smith had been visualizing this type of hybrid retail/event location for a couple of years, but as soon as she found the Culver City space, things quickly fell into place.

Like the jewelry Smith creates, the location’s focus is spiritual. Smith is using it to host yoga classes, energy and healing ceremonies, and visits from special guests like her shaman. 

For a brand whose name signifies bringing people together, it’s a full-circle moment.

“I don’t reach out to anyone, or if I do, it’s very organic,” Smith explained. “I just let things happen. It’s (focused) a lot on empowerment. I feel like it’s what the space wants. I feel like I’m the caretaker of this space.”

Smith has taken a similarly intuitive approach to much of her design career.

After leaving a career in corporate entertainment, Smith, who had long been a painter and sculptor, began carving wax jewelry models by hand, as she still does today.

Initially, she tried to create pieces that felt mainstream, like what other people were selling at the time, but customers weren’t connecting with them.

“I was like, why don’t I do what I really want creatively,” said Smith. “Not a lot of my pieces are very conventional, especially in the beginning, eight or 10 years ago. I started really being myself and creating the way I wanted to; even though I thought it was really weird, it was more myself. When I started doing that, I started getting more people interested in what I was doing, people who saw things that resonated with them.

“Then I started delving in spiritually with what I want to express. I want people to get the idea of what bliss feels like or what heaven feels like, if that felt like something (tangible). I wanted to see what the presence of the divine looked like within my pieces. Now I totally take myself out of my work. I don’t judge it. I’m going to become completely open. If this is what spirit wants to create through me, then I let it happen. When I look at my pieces, I don’t feel like I made them even though my hands physically created them. It’s kind of strange.”

The result is Smith’s range of 14-karat recycled gold pieces abundant with motifs like doves, the Virgin Mary, and rays of light, accented with diamonds and colored gemstones.

As Culver City continues to develop and foot traffic increases, Smith is open to the idea of making her store open as a full-time retail location. As always, she is going with the flow.

“I’ve really trained myself to trust, because I believe I’m supposed to have this space for a reason, not only for my jewelry but spiritually to have the events that I have,” she said. “And if the highest spirit wants this for me then of course it’s going to work out.”

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