Jude Benhalim is a young, Cairo-based jewelry designer who founded her namesake brand when she was just 17 years old. All it took was one creative design project in high school and Jude jumped into the design world head first with her mother and partner, Rana Alazm. Having lived her entire life in Egypt, Jude – who later graduated from AUC with a Film degree – grew up in the ideal environment for pursuing design. She draws upon her family’s unique roots and her vibrant surroundings to create intricately handcrafted pieces with a modern female spirit in mind, empowering women to powerfully embrace and express their individuality with bold, yet flattering, pieces. We spent five minutes with Jude to learn more about her passion for jewelry design.
How did Jude Benhalim begin?
My brand really came out of a place of passion as I did it for my final thesis IB project. I started designing and researching materials, and soon it all came together as JAYS DESIGNS. After seeing such interest in the brand from my friends and family, I continued producing and developing the brand more and more, and it has been an endless ongoing journey since then. I’ve been very blessed and have had a lot of support all around, whether it’s from clients, press or even celebrities. People genuinely do love the designs and everywhere I go now in Cairo, I can spot at least one person wearing one of my products, which gives me so much joy. In one year, the brand has been featured and recognised by the biggest names like Vogue Italia, Harpers Bazaar, Elle, Vogue Arabia and has been styled into so many TV series, so I’m very thankful for the growth of the brand.
Have you always been interested in fashion?
I’ve always been interested in style rather than fashion. I barely know what’s in and what’s not but I can definitely look at someone and admire their style and their aesthetic. Everyone is so different and unique and when someone has a certain style that’s just his or hers, I definitely appreciate it and always admire it.
What have been the highest and lowest points on your journey so far?
I’ve had many high points this year, from being featured in such big publications to having regional celebrities call me personally and ask for pieces and show interest in the brand. With every high, there comes lows as well. There’s always mistakes along the way that usually cause me a lot of stress, however, there are no mistakes that have occurred that I haven’t learnt from so I’m thankful for the highs as well as the lows.
What was the inspiration behind your latest collection?
The imperfections of the city and just the space around me. You can find inspiration everywhere you look and I found that between the cracks of the concrete in the street, the different lines of the bridges, the roundabout areas that represent life and all it’s different directions. Also, in my collection there is always a heroine in the story and in the last collection she was embracing all the city structures and the shackles of urban life and just rebelling and breaking through, becoming her own true self.
Do you ever struggle to stay inspired?
No, because I feel like there’s always something in the world to be inspired by, whether it be a place, culture, design, person or even a different type of art that can channel that inner artist, and make you create something beautiful.
Where is your go-to meeting spot?
How would you describe your customer base?
My customer base is definitely dominantly female, however, recently we have women of all ages wearing the jewelry, which has been so rewarding for me as you see the jewelry being styled in completely different ways.
Is there anyone you would love to see wearing your designs?
I would love to see female Arab leaders wearing my jewelry as they inspire me and inspire a whole generation. Anyone female who stands her ground and shouts her presence and inspires a better world, I would be honoured to see wear my jewelry. There’s Emma Watson, Queen Rania, Nelly Karim, Emily Blunt, Alicia Keys & Beyonce.
What are the morals you run your brand by?
To work hard and to have a set vision in mind, and to never go off course or lose the brand identity.
Do you have a mentor?
My mum is my partner and she takes care of the business side of things, so sometimes when I get too overwhelmed or don’t see clearly, my mum always gives me the best advice and puts me in the right direction.
What apps keep you sane?
Absolutely no application keeps me sane, I’m always on social media researching or looking for inspiration, it’s a disease really. I’m always on every single social application whether it is Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.
If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why?
I would wear the cracked concrete earrings, because I can easily dress it down or dress it up, and I’m a very simple person and love to just throw a white top with a pair of jeans so statement earrings go an extremely long way.
Is there another designer whose work you particularly admire?
I absolutely love Karl Lagerfeld. I think it’s astounding how with every single project he works on it's pure magic and so beautiful.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To stay grounded, to always be true to myself, and to know that mistakes only make me stronger not weaker.
What drew you to Wolf & Badger?
The diversity of brands that are all under this one platform is really inspiring.
Where do you see the brand in 5 years?
Competing in the international fashion market and helping to put Egypt on the fashion map.